The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

3/13/2005

Yellow Jackets get favorable draw

Despite 11 losses (and mediocre play in general in the 2005 part of their schedule), my favorite alma mater not only is going to the NCAA Tournament, not only was given a fairly high #5 seeding, but has been assigned to the far and away easiest regional, the Albuquerque Regional (f/k/a "the Western Regional"). The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are the five-seed in the west, opening against The George Washington University Colonials fairly close to home in Nashville on Friday.

The five-seed traditionally is the most upset-prone seed, as #12 seeds typically go to the strong at-large teams with something prove, while all seeds below that (starting with the #13 who plays the #4) are autmatic bid teams from the lesser conferences. Louisville (seeded #4) is the only team seeded above Ga-Tech that has a shot at winning this regional. Seeds one through three are flawed teams with flashy records that seem bound for upset-ville: #1 Washington (ranked 14th going into tournament play, obviously they were just pencilled into this slot when Arizona came up unexpectedly short), #2 Wake Forest (one player teams tend to lose a round or so earlier than their seeding would justify) and #3 Gonzaga (who already has beaten Tech) don't seem like Final Four timber. Likewise, none of the other teams in the top half of this bracket -- #6 Texas Tech, #7 West Virginia and #8 Pacific -- seem capable of putting together a sustained run of upsets. The winner of the second round game between the Cardinals and the Jackets should produce the winner of this regional (assuming neither GW nor Louisiana-Lafayette pull off an opening round upset).

Who will win it all? The Fightin' Illini of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. I would not be picking them if they had been undefeated going into the tournament: they don't seem good enough to be an undefeated. Now that they have tasted the stale, bitter taste of defeat, they'll be hungry again, without all the pressure of a too-long winning streak. Second choice: the survivor of the very tough Austin bracket, with Duke as the #1, Kentucky as the #2, and Syracuse as the #4 (Oklahoma somehow slipped past them into the #3 seed slot).

Surest bet in the tournament? (After, of course, all the #16 seeds losing, even Montana who plays the unfathomably top-seeded U-Dub.) North Carolina losing in the regional finals. The Elite Eight is Roy WIlliams's graveyard. Why should this year be any different?
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