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VETTEL: Four Days to the Final Four

Written by larry vettel, March 22, 2007, 0 Comments,
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The field of 65 has been reduced to the Sweet 16 and by Sunday evening we’ll know which four teams will remain in the running for this year’s National Title. The Gators headline 16 teams entering play this weekend, some of which expected to be here all along and others that have to keep checking the papers to make sure it’s really them still playing.

As we evaluate each of the four Regional fields and pick the winners it’s important to focus on the total body of work each team brings into the weekend and not evaluate each of 16 teams based on last weekend.

South Regional, San Antonio

Texas A&M Vs Memphis —– The Aggies have the nation’s best point guard in Acie Law and enough of a supporting cast to be difficult for anyone to beat. Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts will try to play on a gimpy ankle. Aggieland will pack the Alamodome as well. Texas A&M by eight

Tennessee Vs Ohio State —– The Vols almost got the Buckeyes during the regular season and both teams have improved significantly over the course of the season. Both are dominated by freshmen but it’s a sophomore, Chris Lofton who is the key to this one. Look for the Vols sharpshooter to light up the young Buckeyes back court. Tennessee by five

Texas A&M Vs Tennessee —– The spot in the Final Four goes to winner of the star guard showdown between Law and Lofton. I consider Law to be one of the three or four best players in the land, and he gets it done. A&M by three

West Regional, San Jose

Kansas Vs Southern Illinois —– The Salukis are one of those teams you hate to play because they will flat out guard your butt all over the floor. The Jay hawks are one of those teams you hate to play because they have tons of talent, plenty of size, excellent speed and depth. Kansas by 15

UCLA Vs Pittsburgh —– UCLA lacks the inside power to be great, but the Bruins are very good nonetheless. For whatever reason whenever I watch Pittsburgh they look like the most overrated clowns in the country. However when I don’t watch, they are pretty darn good. This is particularly true of Pitt big man Aaron Gray. Bad news for the Panthers, I plan on watching them this weekend. UCLA by six

Kansas Vs UCLA —– Too much inside power and depth for the Jayhawks who I am convinced are one of the two best teams in the nation. UCLA will have the home crowd geographically, but Kansas fans are like Kentucky fans and they WILL get tickets. Kansas by eight

East Regional, The Meadowlands

Georgetown Vs Vanderbilt —– The Hoyas are an old school type team and I’m impressed with Coach John Thompson III. Hibbert and Green are as good a tandem as these is in the country. Vandy couldn’t cop with the Hoyas’ power in Nashville in November; they won’t be able to do it in Jersey in March either. Georgetown by 12

Southern Cal Vs North Carolina —– It’s very tempting to pick the upset here. Tim Floyd is underappreciated as a coach because of his dismal stint with the post-Jordan Bulls. He has the great freshman you don’t hear much about in Taj Gibson who went for 17/14 against Kevin Durant in the second round. Add in wingmen Daniel Hackett and Nick Young and you have enough to offset Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. This one should come down to point guards Gabe Pruitt and Ty Lawson. Carolina by one

North Carolina Vs Georgetown —– The Hoyas will be getting very physical with Lawson in this one. Hansbrough meets his match in Hibbert and Jeff Green earns a spot in the NBA Draft Lottery. Georgetown by five

Midwest Regional, St. Louis

UNLV Vs Oregon —– Lon Kruger has his third team in the Sweet 16 and this UNLV team is capable. They aren’t great at anything, but they do everything fairly well. Oregon is a feast-or-famine unit that relies on long range shooting from Aaron Brooks, Bryce Taylor and company. They should make enough of them in this one. Oregon by ten

Florida Vs Butler —– The Bulldogs took the Gators to overtime seven years ago, but while that Gator team probably had more talent, this is a far better team. They’ll sit in a zone and try to shorten the game, but the Gators won’t struggle out of the blocks this time. Florida gives Gator Nation a more relaxed evening then they got last weekend. Florida by 17

Florida Vs Oregon —– The Ducks have nothing on the inside to cope with the Gators with just two of their top eight players over 6’6”. Their only hope is to knock down about 15 three-point baskets. Florida fans have already seen the Gators win two championships in Atlanta this year; why not go for three? Florida by ten

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The field of 65 has been reduced to the Sweet 16 and by Sunday evening we’ll know which four teams will remain in the running for this year’s National Title. The Gators headline 16 teams entering play this weekend, some of which expected to be here all along and others that have to keep checking the papers to make sure it’s really them still playing.

As we evaluate each of the four Regional fields and pick the winners it’s important to focus on the total body of work each team brings into the weekend and not evaluate each of 16 teams based on last weekend.

South Regional, San Antonio

Texas A&M Vs Memphis —– The Aggies have the nation’s best point guard in Acie Law and enough of a supporting cast to be difficult for anyone to beat. Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts will try to play on a gimpy ankle. Aggieland will pack the Alamodome as well. Texas A&M by eight

Tennessee Vs Ohio State —– The Vols almost got the Buckeyes during the regular season and both teams have improved significantly over the course of the season. Both are dominated by freshmen but it’s a sophomore, Chris Lofton who is the key to this one. Look for the Vols sharpshooter to light up the young Buckeyes back court. Tennessee by five

Texas A&M Vs Tennessee —– The spot in the Final Four goes to winner of the star guard showdown between Law and Lofton. I consider Law to be one of the three or four best players in the land, and he gets it done. A&M by three

West Regional, San Jose

Kansas Vs Southern Illinois —– The Salukis are one of those teams you hate to play because they will flat out guard your butt all over the floor. The Jay hawks are one of those teams you hate to play because they have tons of talent, plenty of size, excellent speed and depth. Kansas by 15

UCLA Vs Pittsburgh —– UCLA lacks the inside power to be great, but the Bruins are very good nonetheless. For whatever reason whenever I watch Pittsburgh they look like the most overrated clowns in the country. However when I don’t watch, they are pretty darn good. This is particularly true of Pitt big man Aaron Gray. Bad news for the Panthers, I plan on watching them this weekend. UCLA by six

Kansas Vs UCLA —– Too much inside power and depth for the Jayhawks who I am convinced are one of the two best teams in the nation. UCLA will have the home crowd geographically, but Kansas fans are like Kentucky fans and they WILL get tickets. Kansas by eight

East Regional, The Meadowlands

Georgetown Vs Vanderbilt —– The Hoyas are an old school type team and I’m impressed with Coach John Thompson III. Hibbert and Green are as good a tandem as these is in the country. Vandy couldn’t cop with the Hoyas’ power in Nashville in November; they won’t be able to do it in Jersey in March either. Georgetown by 12

Southern Cal Vs North Carolina —– It’s very tempting to pick the upset here. Tim Floyd is underappreciated as a coach because of his dismal stint with the post-Jordan Bulls. He has the great freshman you don’t hear much about in Taj Gibson who went for 17/14 against Kevin Durant in the second round. Add in wingmen Daniel Hackett and Nick Young and you have enough to offset Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. This one should come down to point guards Gabe Pruitt and Ty Lawson. Carolina by one

North Carolina Vs Georgetown —– The Hoyas will be getting very physical with Lawson in this one. Hansbrough meets his match in Hibbert and Jeff Green earns a spot in the NBA Draft Lottery. Georgetown by five

Midwest Regional, St. Louis

UNLV Vs Oregon —– Lon Kruger has his third team in the Sweet 16 and this UNLV team is capable. They aren’t great at anything, but they do everything fairly well. Oregon is a feast-or-famine unit that relies on long range shooting from Aaron Brooks, Bryce Taylor and company. They should make enough of them in this one. Oregon by ten

Florida Vs Butler —– The Bulldogs took the Gators to overtime seven years ago, but while that Gator team probably had more talent, this is a far better team. They’ll sit in a zone and try to shorten the game, but the Gators won’t struggle out of the blocks this time. Florida gives Gator Nation a more relaxed evening then they got last weekend. Florida by 17

Florida Vs Oregon —– The Ducks have nothing on the inside to cope with the Gators with just two of their top eight players over 6’6”. Their only hope is to knock down about 15 three-point baskets. Florida fans have already seen the Gators win two championships in Atlanta this year; why not go for three? Florida by ten

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