Tuesday, March 13, 2007
  TLBR's "2007 Progression to the Last Four Teams Out of 65 Who Are Competing in the NCAA Tournament And Stuff"
Yes, since "The Road to the Final Four" is copyrighted and I don't have the kwan to pay to use it (even though I have elevated to the level of "Ambassador of Kwan" on some levels...), I have decided to unveil my picks in the 2007 TLBR's Progression to the Last Four Teams Out of 65 Who Are Competing in the NCAA Tournament And Stuff.

So for those who are looking to win their respective bracket pool, this is the one place to go to break ties and make your final decisions on which team to pick. (so if you're stuck, look at what I did and do the opposite.)

Without further ado...we'll start with the Midwest Region.

#1 Florida vs. #16 Jackson State
A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed in the men's tourney. It has happened in the women's tournament. And that, ladies and germs, will be the last mention of the J.V. bracket in this here breakdown. Florida wins.

#8 Arizona vs. #9 Purdue
Matchup between an athletic but schizo team and a talented but boring Big 10 squad. Sure to be a cure for insomnia. I go Arizona, but really, it's anyone's game.

#5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion
Wasn't last year's tournament great, with CAA-inderella George Mason making it all the way to the Final Four??? Wasn't it? What did we get out of it: Boeheim leading the charge to expand the tourney field to 96; the NCAA Selection Committee lowering the number of "mid-major" schools in the tourney; and then making them play each other, as to not upset a BCS-cartel conference school. Butler and ODU is a great game...for the bracketbuster... This just takes one potential giant-killer out of the mix. Go ODU with this one.

#4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson
I love this matchup. Both teams well-coached. Gary Williams has won a national title and Bob McKillop, well, in my world, Sports Illustrated should write a big long story on how he's never left for "greener pastures" and has stayed committed to an excellent academic and athletic institution. Write that article instead of the shampooing Ohio State informercial...especially in light of the fact that they don't graduate kids, they have a little problem with kinda-sorta paying them, and their star frosh is taking three classes this semester: basketball, rock music, and sociology. Enough about Ohio State. Maryland wins this, but it's a close one.

#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop
Winthrop got upset last year in the tourney. Yeah, I know, the definition of "upset" comes when the higher seed/better team loses. So, returning to my original point. Gregg Marshall's (the Gonzo of the South) squad got upset. Notre Dame's not that good. They don't defend. And when you live by the three and die by the three and don't defend, well, let's just say I'm an expert in that field. Winthrop.

#3 Oregon vs. #14 Miami (Ohio)
Oregon wins. Miami (Ohio) is playing with Akron's bid. And I believe in karma.

#7 UNLV vs. #10 Georgia Tech
This is one of those games that my Northeast bias just won't allow me to get into. UNLV is peaking. GTech is as athletic as any team in the tournament. Who wins? I don't know. Pick one. I did. And I went UNLV.

#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Texas A&M C.C.
I have high hopes for Texas A&M. The one in College Station. Bucky wins this one.

West Region
#1 Kansas vs. #16 Niagara
Bill Self's squad makes quick work of the oh-so-disrespected Purple Eagles. Hopefully so quick that the "Perps" won't have time to get into a gang-style fight and get their kids suspended for eight games again. Hopefully quick enough so that Joe Mihalich can get up to Olean to apply for the opening at St. Bona. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk here.

#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Villanova
I will be tuning into this one. Who wins out here: Tubby fighting for his job, or Scottie Reynolds fighting for his? For Tubby, it's keeping the Kentucky job. For Scottie, it's sliding into one of the top 5 picks in the NBA lottery. I go 'Nova here. Curtis Sumpter has something to prove, too.

#5 Va. Tech vs. #12 Illinois
Illinois still has kids on their roster that remember what it's like to win NCAA Tournament games. Va. Tech has kids who don't. But they're due. So go Va. Tech.

#4 Southern Illinois vs. #13 Holy Cross
Again, my conspiracy theory comes into play with this matchup. The Salukis have a great RPI and whatnot, they deserve a high seed, but give them Stanford or some BCS school so SIU can kick the crap out of them. Don't waste Holy Cross' annual matchup zone headache on them. Dammit. S. Illinois wins. But not by much and not without a fight.

#5 Duke vs. #11 VCU
Man, I wanted to pick Anthony Grant's team. I really, really wanted to. But something tells me that, when push comes to shove, and shove becomes sucker punch, Duke wins. Not sure if the Rams have enough for Josh McRoberts. Duke here.

#3 Pitt vs. #14 Wright State
Pitt isn't playing well. They know it. And they've had a few days to mull it over. And I think at the end of the day, they'd like to stop sucking. The sacrificial lamb in that equation? Wright State. Pitt wins.

#7 Indiana vs. #10 Gonzaga
If Indiana decides to defend, score, and rebound to the level they're capable of, they can beat ANY team in this tournament. But as my old coach once told me, you can only two things well and at the same time. I like Gonzaga here. I think they have something to prove and Kelvin Sampson just isn't a good NCAA Tournament coach.

#2 UCLA vs. #15 Weber St.
Ben Howland went to Weber St. Ben Howland's team is going beat Weber St. I'm having trouble thinking of anything else compelling about this game.

South Region
#1 Ohio State vs. #16 Central Connecticut
Hey Nutmeg State! Did you know that there is another Division I program in the state? In fact, there are six (UConn, CCSU, Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac, Fairfield, and Hartford). But only one gets covered. And that team will have plenty of time to take in the tournament. Online. (insert witty laptop joke here). Ohio State wins.

#8 BYU vs. #9 Xavier
Jesuit vs. Mormon. I go with the Jesuit. Plus, I think Xavier's loss in the A-10 Tourney to one of the top up and coming programs in the East has really set them straight. Plus, Drew Lavender is the best point guard in the country that you never heard of... Musketeers win.

#5 Tennessee vs. #12 Long Beach St.
Prime for the upset here...it's a 5-12...there's always an upset in the 5-12 game...but not this time. I think Bruce Pearl's squad will remember having to use a circus shot to beat Winthrop last year and will handle everything LBSU gives them. Plus, Long Beach just hasn't been the same since Rasul Salahuddin graduated. Rocky Top win.

#4 Virginia vs. #13 Albany
This is going to be a knock-down drag-out. Dave Leitao will never be confused with a John Wooden-Bob Knight-Dean Smith pantheon of great coaching. And Albany has been there and knows what it takes. Jamar Wilson is Dyree's cousin and while that's good enough for me, Sean Singletary might be the most talented all-around guard in the field of 65. Cavs win.

#6 Louisville vs. #11 Stanford
This game, to me, should be Louisville/Drexel. That being said, I think Rick Pitino has a decent record in NCAA Tournaments. So I'm going with the 'Ville.

#3 Texas A&M vs. #14 Penn
I have Texas A&M going far. I mean really far. I mean like last man standing kinda far. So they beat Penn.

#7 Nevada vs. #10 Creighton
See my mid-major conspiracy theory earlier. This just takes away another giant-killer. Nevada's Nick Fazekas and Creighton's Nate Funk are two strong individual players. But Nick gets the nod. And Drexel beat Creighton, apropos of nothing...the Wolfpack here.

#2 Memphis vs. #15 North Texas
When a team makes it to its first tournament in almost forever, they take pictures, the water bottles and the towels from the locker room, and make sure they get the namecards from the press conference. Why? Because they're happy to be there. A happy North Texas Mean Green. A victorious Memphis Tigers.

East Region
#1 North Carolina vs. #16 Eastern Kentucky
Remember how I said a 16-seed never beat a 1-seed? Well, I remember seeing a "close call" in a 16 vs. 1 game. It was in Winston-Salem. And it involved North Carolina. And the Tar Heels were down at the half. And the game was tied with 3:00 to go. Greg Francis went off. But the Stags came up short. Nice story, huh? Well, UNC wins here.

#8 Marquette vs. #9 Michigan State
Tom Crean and Tom Izzo know each other. They're friends. In fact, it's a little-known fact that Crean worked for Izzo at Michigan State. I just wanted to get that out there, in case no one writes about it or does a soft-light CBS pre-game special on their relationship. A wise college basketball insider tells me that MU's guards are going to eat up Drew Neitzel. Especially if Jerel McSteal plays. I tend to agree. Ring out Ahoya. MU rah rah. Warriors forever.

#5 Southern Cal vs. #12 Arkansas
Another game Drexel should be in. I have nothing funny to say about this game. USC wins.

#4 Texas vs. #13 New Mexico State
You know how most people have to go on a job interview for gigs they want. They see the ad, then apply, and then interview? Or in the case of an actor, he/she sees a casting call, auditions, and then gets a call back. Kevin Durant is a pro. He wants to be the first pick. This is the first step in his process in getting that job. Longhorns and big over Coach Theus' Wolfpack.

#6 Vanderbilt vs. #11 George Washington
I call this "the god-damn shampooing game I should be doing the book or sitting next to Lesley Visser for." That being said, I'm rooting for the Colonials. It's a job interview for Carl Elliott, too. And not only am I rooting for G-Dub, but I'm picking the upset.

#3 Washington St. vs. #14 Oral Roberts
Two teams with the nickname Golden Eagles in the same bracket. Two predictions of victories for teams with the nickname Golden Eagles. ORU, coached by Sean Sutton, with the big upset of the first round.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Texas Tech
Not for nothing, but there's not one 7-10 game that I remotely give a shampoo about this year. So I'm picking B.C. because I find Al Skinner to be a better overall person than Robert Montgomery Knight. Go Eagles.

#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Belmont
I have the Hoyas going far. Really far. But not THAT far. Cruise by Belmont.

And that's it for picks. I'll return with reviews on my picks and my round of 32 selections on Friday and Saturday.

Enjoy the ballin'!

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