Big Name Coaches: Ben Howland, Mike Davis, Quin Snyder, Rick Majerus, Tubby Smith
The Sleepers: Oregon, Weber State, Holy Cross
Worst 1st round Match-up: Kentucky (1) vs. IUPUI (16) TIES Pittsburgh (2) vs. Wagner (15)
This bracket could play out to provide some very interesting match-ups. The path to the Final Four that leads through this bracket is full of big named teams and sleepers as well. Kentucky, Pitt and Marquette are all good enough to make a run at a Final Four bid.
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) IUPUI
This game should not be too much of a battle. The Wildcats are rolling and are more than able to outmatch and outmuscle IUPUI.
(8) Oregon vs. (9) Utah
This is a very good 8-9 match-up, and should be an interesting clash of contrasting styles. Utah plays very unselfishly and is one of the best defensive teams nationally. Oregon, with Luke Ridnour at the point, is one of the most exciting offensive teams in the nation.
(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Weber State
This could be one of the more intriguing 5-12 match-ups in The Dance this year. The Badgers are somewhat of an anomaly. They have beaten Illinois and lost to Penn State. Aside from their win against the Illinis, the Badgers have lost to almost all the top 25 teams they have played. Weber State has been very consistent and has won 17 games in a row entering the tournament. They claimed the Big Sky regular season title as well as the tournament championship.
(4) Dayton vs. (13) Tulsa
Even though they are hidden in the Atlantic-10 conference, Dayton is a very good team. Their regular season play warranted the 4 seed, and they come in on a roll after winning the A-10 championship. Tulsa is a streaky team and can show up or disappear for no apparent reason.
(6) Missouri vs. (11) Southern Illinois
This 6-11 match-up is fairly interesting because of many factors. Missouri is a very talented team, although not very deep. It has beaten Kansas and Oklahoma, but has to overcome a confident Southern Illinois team. After shaking up the tournament last year, the Salukis are back to make another run. (3) Marquette vs. (14) Holy Cross
Dwyane Wade is the heart. Marquette has been ranked as high as No. 8 in the country and has played well through the regular season into the Conference USA tournament where it lost in the second round. Holy Cross is trying to continue a season-high 12-game winning streak that has already extended through the conference tournament. Holy Cross is making its third straight appearance in the tournament.
(7) Indiana vs. (10) Alabama
This could be the worst first round match-up in the tournament. The game will be evenly played, however one of the teams will have to win the game. There is a problem with one of these teams entering the second round, because I saw them both as being quick-exit teams. One of the teams will have to most likely play Pitt in the second round, which could end up being somewhat of a walk for the Big East champ.
(2) Pittsburgh vs. (15) Wagner
This game shouldn't be too much of a battle. Pittsburgh is a very resilient team and should roll through the out-matched Wagner. Wagner is a good team, having gone 21-9 this season, but Pitt is just too talented.
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