Monday, March 15, 2004

March Madness: West-Coast Bias Edition

Dear Kari:

As a culture blog, we have to post about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament!

With no teams of local interest, I didn't watch the selection show and it is only now with my Monday morning newspaper that I know the match-ups.

So a quick look at what I see with my obvious West-Coast bias.

First, a short rant: Utah State got robbed. Yes, people will say their RPI is too poor and they come from the Big West, a wimpy conference. As a UCI Anteater, it is hard for me to say anything nice about the Aggies but they rampaged through the Big West just losing to UOP (got the Big West slot this year) in the regular season and to CSUN in a heartbreaker in the tournament semi-finals. Utah State beat Ohio State in 2001 and last year pushed Kansas to the brink. You’ll recall Kansas went on to the National Championship game.

Utah State plays solid defense and run a disciplined offense and would have put up a good fight no matter who they played. They was robbed.

Now onto a quick look at just a few teams from the Western part of the USA.

In an off year for the Pac-10 with talk of only sending two teams, Washington *played* their way into the tournament after an 0-5 start in conference to finish 12-6 and be the only team to beat Stanford so far. Even with that finish, I don't know if the Selection Committee would have let them in. But the Huskies beat UCLA and Arizona before falling to Stanford in the Pac-10 tournament. Not much size on the front line but they are tenacious. Overall, their asset is speed. Would love to see the Huskies upset the Kentucky Wildcats in a round two showdown.

Gonzaga will have a tough road. Should get past Valpo but possible showdowns with Michigan State, G-Tech and then Kentucky means the Zags will be a Cinderella story if they get to San Antonio. Will a non-power conference club finally break into that Final Four club? Will the Zags do it? Or will the St. Joe's Hawks do it? Or will power conference teams knock them both off somewhere along the way?

You know who I'll be rooting for.

An Arizona vs. Duke round two game is what CBS would love. Arizona has had a tough year being short handed and erratic on defense. They try to outscore people and certainly would be good for an upset or two but probably don't have enough to go all the way.

Finally, there is Stanford out West. They would love to avenge an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Maryland from a few years back. If all goes accordingly, they could face Maryland in a regional semi-final this year. Stanford should go far but UConn is clearly the strongest team in the bracket and maybe too much for the Cardinal.

More sports punditry to come…

What is the buzz about the Big12?

Rene

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