Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff March 15, 2009 08:22 PM
Some initial thoughts on the bracket (I reserve the right to change my mind):
- Shipping up to Boston: How does a doubleheader of Pitt vs. Xavier or Florida State, and Duke vs. UCLA or Villanova sound? That's what we could get at the Garden, Thursday night, March 26. A lot of royalty there.
- The top seeds: I was surprised Louisville was the overall No.1 but it's difficult to argue with that since it won the Big East tournament and regular-season titles. I do think Memphis, with a 25-game winning streak, deserved a No. 1 seed. Sure, Conference USA isn't strong this season but there are still difficult road games to play and Memphis won them all. So I think UConn should have been seeded second.
- Toughest region: I think it's the South with North Carolina, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and Gonzaga as the top four seeds plus Butler, Arizona State, and Clemson as possible upsetters.
- Weakest region: Reluctantly, I'd say the East. I'm not a believer in Duke. Pitt is in a good position.
- Possible first-round upsets (meaning a lower seed beating a higher seed ... that even includes a 9 beating an 8): Tennessee over Oklahoma State; Virginia Commonwealth over UCLA; Minnesota over Texas; Butler over LSU; Western Kentucky over Illinois; Temple over Arizona State; Stephen F. Austin over Syracuse; Michigan over Clemson; Siena over Ohio State; Arizona over Utah; Cleveland State over Wake Forest; Dayton over West Virginia; North Dakota State over Kansas; Southern Cal over Boston College; Northern Iowa over Purdue; Mississippi State over Washington; Utah State over Marquette; Cornell over Missouri; Maryland over California.
- Why do I think like this?: As soon as Louisville was made No. 1 overall, I thought to myself Saint Mary's isn't going to make it.
- The snubs: I wish Saint Mary's was in the tournament, but the injury to point guard Patrick Mills ruined the Gaels' chances. If he hadn't gotten injured, I think the Gaels had to a chance to be a Sweet 16 team.
- Overseeded: A four seed seems high for Xavier and a five seems high for Utah, as does the five for Illinois.
- Underseeded: Clemson seems a little low at 7; Dayton was in the final four invited and should have been higher than 11. I think Chattanooga should have been in the play-in game instead of Alabama State.
- Sunday/Monday's George Mason: Virginia Commonwealth. I think the Rams can beat UCLA and have a chance against Villanova and Duke.
- Sunday/Monday's Final Four: Pitt, Oklahoma, Louisville, Memphis.
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