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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bracket Busters: Weekend Wildness

So, the first weekend of the NCAA tournament has been over for a few days now.  There weren't any really big surprises, save for Butler advancing over Pitt, Florida State making the sweet sixteen, and Richmond winning two games despite playing in what is considered to be one of the weakest conferences in NCAA Division I college basketball. Yet, despite the fact that for the most part the higher seeds are still alive, there is still plenty of drama left as the next four rounds unfold.

In the Argobright Family pool, I am currently tied for third place, with 410 of a possible 640 points, courtesy of me picking more upsets in the earlier rounds than most people.  I still have all of my final four teams alive; the downside to that is that they are also the lone four teams I can hope make it to the elite eight.  The leader, at 460 points, suffered a huge hit when her pick for national champion, Notre Dame, lost to Florida State on Sunday night. I think her best bet is for all the power teams to lose before the final four.  Yet, like I said before, this pool, like the tournament itself, is still up for grabs.

And even though George Mason looked totally unprepared to handle Ohio State on Sunday afternoon, the way the Buckeyes played only reaffirms my belief that they will cut down the nets in Houston.  Many people would point to the fact that they have yet to play a close game in the tourney as a potential weakness; I don't think it hurts them at all.  They have already played enough close game during Big Ten play to be prepared for such situations; maybe that is why they have won their first two games with such ease.

Kentucky should prove to be the best litmus test for the Buckeyes yet this season.  Buckeye fans certainly haven't forgotten last year's sweet sixteen loss to Tennessee.  But this year's matchup between the Big Ten Champ and SEC Champ should be different, if only for the fact that the Buckeyes have a bit more balance this season.  Nonetheless, the Wildcats will be out to prove they are this year's West Virginia(having already beat the Mountaineers certainly doesn't hurt).

And for all this talk that Duke could be unstoppable with the return of guard Kyrie Irving, from what I heard they certainly didn't seem invincible Sunday.  I say what I heard, because, I have to rely on second hand accounts due to the fact I did not get to watch that game.  Maybe Duke had an off night.  I will definitely make sure to watch some of the game vs. Arizona though.

Finally we get to Kansas.  They beat Illinois in convincing fashion, but does that mean they should be the favorite to win it all? The Buckeyes beat the Illini twice this season and barely broke a sweat.  Nonetheless, rock chalk still has the easiest road to Houston (not sure how that happened).  Should they get there they might have to face a tough Wisconsin team or last year's runner up, Butler, both of whom would provide for interesting storylines.

 Which brings me to my next point: can Butler repeat last year's magic? 

Okay, so that is a lot of information to digest.  Hopefully this weekend will bring more surprises and excitement to the 2011 NCAA tournament.

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