A Quick Glance at the 2006 NCAA Tournament

After the pairings are announced, Selection Sunday always focuses on which teams were screwed over in the bracket, by where they are seeded or how they were left off, and which teams will be the four left standing. IlliniBoard.com is no different than the rest of the sports world, and after the initial shock of the Illini's four seed, we sat down with a bracket, and made some quick look predictions that are sure to change before Thursday's games start.

Selection Sunday is like Christmas for many college basketball fans. When the brackets are announced on CBS by the Selection Committee, some fans are overjoyed when their team receives what they deem an "easy bracket", while other fans are dismayed when they feel their team was "screwed" over by the committee. Once the initial shock wears off, it is time for the whole country to fill out their tournament brackets in an effort to both win some money (that is obviously reported to the IRS) and prove to the rest of their friends their superior basketball knowledge.

As the brackets were announced, there was immediate backlash by the Illini faithful at the seeding the Illini received. Many of the resident "bracketologists" across the Internet had the Illini at either a two or a three seed, so that was where the fans expected the Illini to fit in. It seemed like that was possible, especially when Iowa was named a three seed in the Atlanta Regional and Pittsburgh was given a five seed in the Oakland Regional. That was until CBS announced the brackets for the Washington, D.C. Regional.

Illinois was given a four seed, and shipped out to San Diego for their pod in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. While some fans expected the four seed, I don't think any fans expected to have the Illini playing in San Diego instead of either Dayton, OH, or Auburn Hills, MI. The shocks did not end for the Illini faithful as the rest of the Washington, D.C. Regional was announced. The two and three seed in this regional were Tennessee (who has faltered as the season wore down losing four of their last six games) and North Carolina (who the Illini had beaten earlier this season in Chapel Hill). While based on their recent play, having North Carolina as a three seed is not all that shocking, but having Tennessee sitting as a two seed is, well, pretty questionable.

Just how could the S-Curve have worked out to get these seeding where they were? Let's look at it, as we know how the Selection Committee seeded the number one teams, and from that we can generate the S-Curve. The final S-Curve that the brackets fall upon is modified slightly to ensure the brackets do not have conference teams playing each other until the Sweet 16.

1. Duke
2. Connecticut
3. Villanova
4. Memphis

5. UCLA
6. Ohio State
7. Tennessee
8. Texas

9. Iowa
10. North Carolina
11. Florida
12. Gonzaga

13. Kansas
14. Boston College
15. Illinois
16. Louisiana State

Looking at the S-Curve, there is really one team that is sitting in a far different position that expected, Tennessee. Illinois as a four seed was a slight shock, but based on the way the brackets are made after the S-Curve is created; it is not all that shocking. Yes, it was disappointing, but now all that is left on the table is to look forward to the brackets, and the pageantry that is March Madness and the NCAA Tournament.

ATLANTA REGIONAL
Duke was the overall number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and has the luxury of playing in Greensboro, NC, the site of their ACC Tournament victory just this week, and mere miles from their campus. Other teams of note in this Regional are Big East Tournament Champions Syracuse (5), Big Ten Tournament Champions Iowa (3), Missouri Valley Tournament Champions Southern Illinois (11), and Big XII Regular Season Champions (tied with Kansas) Texas (2).

First Round Game to Watch: California vs. North Carolina State.
The match up between the Golden Bears and the Wolfpack is one of two match ups between teams in the power conferences in the Atlanta Regional. California is coming off an appearance in the Pac 10 Tournament Championship game, while NC State is coming into the NCAA's trying to bounce back after losing their last four games, including twice in a row to Wake Forest.

Upset Special: Texas A&M over Syracuse
The Orangemen are coming off being the first team to win the Big East Conference Tournament by winning four games in four days. Syracuse and Gerry McNamara were the story of this week's conference tournaments with McNamara's great last second shots and the famous outburst from Orangemen Head Coach Jim Boeheim directed toward some of the media for calling Gerry overrated.

Why Texas A&M over Syracuse? While in their non-conference schedule Texas A&M scheduled from sisters of the blind than any other major program outside of Florida State, they made the draw with one of the last at-large bids. The Aggies are highlighted here as a team that can upset another because of two reasons (1) Syracuse cannot possibly play any better than they did in the Big East Tournament, so a let down is possible and (2) according to Ken Pomeroy, Texas A&M's defensive efficiency is the fifth best in the country, and they play at a very slow pace.

Quick Glance Regional Semifinalists: Duke, Louisiana State, Iowa, and Texas
Quick Glance Regional Finalists: Duke and Texas
Quick Glance Regional Champion: Duke

OAKLAND REGIONAL
The Oakland Regional is probably the weakest group of teams in the bracket. Memphis did obtain the final one seed, and for that they were shipped out west, assuming they make the second weekend. Filling out the top four seeds in Oakland are Pac Ten Regular Season and Tournament Champions UCLA (2), West Coast Conference Regular Season and Tournament Champions Gonzaga (3), and Big XII Regular Season (tie with Texas) and Tournament Champions Kansas (4). Other teams of note in this region are Indiana (6) and Marquette (7).

First Round Game to Watch: (3) Gonzaga vs. (14) Xavier
Gonzaga is the media darling, and they have not lost since December 27, 2005, but they have not played well in their last few games. They have scraped through many of their final games including needing every second to defeat San Diego and Loyola Marymount (who is not lining up Hank Gathers or Bo Kimble any more) in the WCC Conference Tournament. Xavier won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, and has gotten hot at the right time. I don't think the Musketeers have enough to upset Gonzaga, but this should be a very good game.

Upset Special: (6) Indiana over (3) Gonzaga
This is the last dance for Hoosier Head Coach Mike Davis, and after announcing his resignation the Hoosiers have won five of seven with their only losses coming at Illinois and to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana has the guards that can stick with Gonzaga, and they have Marco Killingsworth on the inside who can give JP Batista all the problems in the world. The Hoosiers could not have asked for a better three seed to be matched up with.

Quick Glance Regional Semifinalists: Memphis, Pittsburgh, Indiana, UCLA
Quick Glance Regional Finalists: Pittsburgh and UCLA
Quick Glance Regional Champions: UCLA

WASHINGTON, D.C. REGIONAL
The Washington, D.C. Regional has both of last year's National Finalists with North Carolina and Illinois seeded three and four in this region, respectively. Heading up this regional is the Connecticut Huskies. Other teams of note are Tennessee (2) and Michigan State (6).

First Round Game to Watch: (8) Kentucky vs. (9) Alabama-Birmingham
The last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament, UAB defeated the then Number One seeded Kentucky 76-75. Kentucky has struggled this season, and UAB is playing well to end the season, despite their big time loss to Memphis in the Conference USA Tournament Championship.

Upset Special: (12) Utah State over (5) Washington
Yes, the Huskies have been playing some of the best basketball in the country winning eight straight games to close out the season before tripping up against Oregon in the Pac 10 Conference Tournament. But, I have them highlighted as an upset special because Utah State may play the exact opposite game of Washington. Utah State wants to slow down the game, while Washington wants to run the basketball, and run it some more. If Utah State can control the tempo of the game, which is questionable since Washington has been able to control the tempo against the likes of Washington State, Utah State can sneak out of the game with a victory.

Quick Glance Regional Semifinalists: UConn, Illinois, North Carolina, Wichita State
Quick Glance Regional Finalists: UConn and North Carolina
Quick Glance Regional Champions: UConn

MINNEAPOLIS REGIONAL
The Minneapolis Regional has some of the more intriguing match ups in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament. With no one knowing how healthy Allan Ray will be heading into the NCAA Tournament, it makes Villanova a number one seed that is vulnerable to an early upset, especially with Arizona or Wisconsin looming in the second round. Other teams of interest in this bracket are Boston College (4), Georgetown (7), and Ohio State (2).

First Round Game to Watch: (8) Arizona vs. (9) Wisconsin
The last time these two teams faced each other in the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin upset the Wildcats in the second round en route to a Final Four appearance. This game is a game between two teams with a sharp contrast in styles, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Upset Special: (14) South Alabama over (3) Florida
Do you think John Pelphrey is pretty familiar with Billy Donovan and his Florida Gators? If you do, you are right. Pelphrey is in year four at South Alabama, and before that he was an assistant coach with Billy Donovan at both Florida and Marshall. Before winning the SEC Tournament, Florida stumbled at the end of the season losing three of five, and outside of their loss to Michigan State in the National Championship game, Florida has underachieved in the NCAA Tournament under Bill Donovan.

Quick Glance Regional Semifinalists: Villanova, Boston College, Oklahoma, Ohio State
Quick Glance Regional Finalists: Boston College and Ohio State
Quick Glance Regional Champions: Boston College

THE FINAL FOUR
In our quick glance predictions, IlliniBoard.com has Duke, UConn, UCLA, and Boston College in the Final Four.

Quick Glance National Finalists: UCLA and UConn
Quick Glance National Champions: UConn


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