The Elite Eight team from a year ago has returned to the tournament this year with a nine seed that draws an undermanned Texas in the first round. The winner will move on to face the No. 1 Illinois Fighting Illini. Illinois has been a season long favorite by most of the country, but Nevada is a team that has consistently kept games close and goes eight deep in its lineup which offers a very balanced scoring attack.
A Nevada win over the favorite would greatly improve Arizona's chances in the tournament. Although the UA's pod is not easy, Arizona is good enough to advance to the Sweet 16. Anything less will be looked upon as a disappointment. While the Wolfpack may not defeat the Illini, it could give the top team a fit. Fellow Wildcat Insider employee John "Schu" Schuster calls a Nevada victory of Illinois, "The biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history."
The Bruins are young but talented. They gave Arizona a fit in Tucson and defeated the number one seed Washington Huskies. In addition, they have the Pac-10 freshman of the year in Jordan Farmar. They are a young team starting three freshmen, and have little depth. However, the Bruins have learned how to win some important game, including an impressive performance at Notre Dame.
I have been a big believer in the Wildcats from Philly all season, and I don't expect them to disappoint. With convincing victories over Kansas, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Boston College, look for them to continue over New Mexico and potentially over Florida. Villanova could make a deep run.
Lawrence Roberts. Remember that name. He is one of the best big men in the country and he will lead his team to victory over Stanford and Duke. There is something about this team that was ranked during much of the season that screams, "Watch Out!"
The bracket Arizona would have been the top seed in with a victory Saturday is the easiest in the Tournament. The Albuquerque region has Washington as the top seed followed by Wake Forest in the two position, a beatable Gonzaga team in the three spot, followed by Louisville and Georgia Tech in the four and five slots. This bracket is weak, and Arizona is kicking itself for failing to pull off the victory over Washington. It is now a three seed in the toughest bracket.
Look for Georgia Tech to go far in the tournament these next few weeks.
Chicago is brutal. The addition of Illinois playing basically at home the entire way through the region makes it the clear favorite to go to the Final Four. Oklahoma State is a team that made a strong run to become a number one seed, and Arizona was fighting for a number one seed just one day ago. Boston College remained undefeated for most of the season, and it enters the tournament as a four seed. Any one of the top four seeds is a Final Four caliber team, yet could still lose early in this field.
BEST FIRST ROUND GAME
Texas Tech vs. UCLA
This 6 vs. 11 match-up is marquee because of the contrasting styles.. UCLA loves to use its athleticism to get up and down the floor while Texas Tech runs one of the more efficient offenses in the nation.