It was no surprise when the 32-2 Kansas Jayhawks were announced as the number one overall seed. While other seedings and matchups were debated there wasn't much to squabble over since KU more than earned its highly touted number one ranking.
"I think it is a great," said center Cole Aldrich. "We have worked so
hard for such a long time to put ourselves into a great position, which
I think we have. No. 1 seed overall or not, it all starts
over again. It is a whole new season for us.
Everybody is fighting for their lives from here on out."
Over the years it feels like traditionally the Midwest region is always
the toughest and that feel hasn't changed in 2010.
"Just looking at it from the seeding standpoint, I would agree
whole-heartedly," said KU head coach Bill Self.
"You aren't supposed to be rewarded in the NCAA Tournament," said
Sherron Collins adding perspective. "That is why teams make the
tournament because they are good. Everybody has a tough
bracket and has tough matchups. We got prepared for it by winning the
Big 12 Tournament. This is the tournament. It is going to be hard to
Kansas will have to contend with a bunch of programs that reached Final
Fours and/or won national titles in the last decade. Michigan State
reached the Final Four a year ago and won the 2000 National
Championship. The Spartans also just happened to knock KU out in the
Sweet Sixteen a year ago.
"We kind of wanted Michigan State. We feel like we still owe them,"
Marcus Morris answered when asked to dissect the bracket.
"I think we have to keep each other focused on that and not look ahead
because it's easy to get distracted, especially when you see teams like
Michigan State in your same bracket and it's the same team that beat us
before," said sophomore Tyshawn Taylor. "Of course you want to look
ahead and I wish we could play them but you've got to take it one game
at a time because it is the tournament and everybody's coming to play
so we can't look past any team because they could upset us."
Maryland has spent most of the season tussling with Duke for the ACC
regular season title which they eventually shared. The Terrapins were
also the NCAA titleholders in 2002. Georgetown reached the Final Four
back in 2007 eventually bowing out to the regions #2 seed Ohio State.
Add just to add some more intrigue to the bracket the committee decided
it would be a nice touch to add the two teams in that just happened to
beat KU this season - #6 Tennessee and #7 Oklahoma State.
If you're looking for a good omen among the traps and pitfalls in this
loaded bracket – KU played UNLV in the second round in 2008 on its way
to the title.
This bracket has some of the best players in the country – KU fans know
about Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. But there's also Evan Turner of
Ohio State, arguably, but not by many, the best player in the country
(19.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg). James Anderson of Oklahoma State (22.6 ppg) who
led the Big 12 in scoring. Aubrey Coleman of Houston leads the COUNTRY
in scoring at 25.6 ppg.
"There's a lot of great talent in this region; there's a lot of great
players. You forgot a couple of names; Austin Freeman
(Georgetown), Kalin Lucas (Michigan State). There are a lot of tough
guys. But players are going to play and the teams that come out and
play their best are going to win. And hopefully that's us," said
sophomore Marcus Morris.
If you're taking a look at the double-digit seeds in the bracket that
could do some damage there are a few of them.
San Diego State got left out last season and left nothing up for debate
this season. 6-7 freshman Kawhi Leonard is coming off a remarkable 16
point, 21-rebound performance in the Mountain West Conference final
where they defeated fellow Midwest bracket resident UNLV, 55-45.
Georgia Tech just came off a run to the ACC final where it fell to
Duke. The Yellow Jackets are stacked up front with Gani Lawal and
Derrick Favors and they appear to be hitting their stride if the ACC
tournament is any indication.
There is no doubt though the strength in this bracket is at the top.
The top five seeds in this bracket can beat anyone on any given night.
The second-seeded Buckeyes have just seven losses on the season and
three of them came without Turner. OSU has won 12 of its last 13 games
and is riding a wave of momentum after a Big Ten Tournament title.
Three other Buckeyes average double-digits (David Lighty 12.5 ppg, Jon Diebler 12.6 ppg, and William Buford 14.5 ppg) and they are a tough
matchup and formidable two-seed challenge for number one Kansas.
The third seeded Georgetown Hoyas are like a Katy Perry song – they're
hot then they're cold. Sometimes it doesn't even fluctuate from game to
game it fluctuates within the same game. They've been up by a lot and
blown a lead, and they've been down by a bunch and come back. John Thompson's team runs a Princeton-type offense, something KU has seen a
few times this year, but no one the Jayhawks have faced run it as
efficiently as the Hoyas. Greg Monroe is such a huge weapon in this
offense. The lefty is tough around the rim and with his height he can
see over the defense and he passes as good as most point guards. A
matchup between Chris Wright and Sherron Collins would feature two real
tough kids that know how to do what it takes to win. Austin Freeman can
simply light it up and in light of his recent diabetes diagnosis the
kid plays inspired basketball and is a terrific shooter/scorer. The
Hoyas have been puzzling at times but they remain dangerous.
"Then you have, in my opinion, a team that played unbelievable down the
stretch. Anybody that can score 91 points on Syracuse, you
know they can beat anybody any night – in Georgetown," Self said.
Gary Williams Maryland Terrapins feature one of the best players you'll
see in Greivis Vasquez, another terrific scorer who will be one to
watch in this bracket averaging over 19 point a game. Vasquez is
underrated and so are the Terps to a degree. Maryland was disappointed
after bowing out early in the ACC Tournament to Georgia Tech but this
team is gritty and gutty and should they get out of the first round,
could be a tough out as the tourney goes on.
It is about this time of year where you can throw out what Michigan
State has done for most of the season. Dismiss the fact they've lost
five of their last ten. Tom Izzo is Mr. March and seems to always find
a way to get his team clicking at the right time. As far as toughness
goes there usually aren't too many that can match the intangibles
Michigan State possesses. Kansas lost to the Spartans last year and if
there's a rematch MSU will see a much-improved top-to-bottom roster for
The bracket is loaded but the good news is Kansas will have to win four
games to get to a Final Four and two of them will be against a team
seeded 8th or worse. So don't be overwhelmed by the entirety of the
brackets most of these teams will knock each other out.
"I think you can get carried away with the NCAA Tournament if you look
ahead," Self continued. "You can't look ahead because if you look too
far ahead, you will be preparing for something that there is a chance
that may never exist. You have to stay in the present and the present
is this weekend."
Welcome to Midwest Mayhem
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