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Anticipating the madness ahead

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  March 16, 2011 12:22 PM

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A few NCAA thoughts:

The tourney committee got the four No. 1s right. Really, who can complain?

Notre Dame? San Diego State? Carolina? Nah. And Florida should get down on
their knees and thank somebody for their bogus No. 2 seed.

1. Most vulnerable No. 1: Kansas.
I love their front court, but their backcourt has issues. What's the matter with Josh Selby? He started off great, but after that, yuck. If he plays to his reputation, well, OK. Having said that, the only true obstacle I see for them is Louisville.

2. Easiest road to Final Four: Pitt.
If I didn't know better, I'd think Jamie Dixon slipped each member of the committee 10K. The Panthers have had one of the great regular season programs in America for a decade, but the closest they've ever come to the Final Four was against Villanova (who can forget the Scottie Reynolds coast-to-coast dash?) in the Regional Finals right here in Boston two years ago. But if they're ever going to get to the Promised Land, it's this year, when they have been placed in a cupcake bracket. Florida is a bogus No. 2, BYU is no longer a legit 3, No. 4 Wisconsin will be lucky to win its first-round game against Belmont, and that brings us to No. 5 Kansas State, which is playing well, but which could easily lose the opener to No. 12 Utah State. There's always Gonzaga, I suppose, and I do think they will beat St. John's in the 11-6 game.

But, really. This is a setup for Pitt, which means there is enormous pressure on them to perform.

3. I think UConn can keep it up and get to the Final Four
It's not just Kemba Walker. It's the help he's now getting from the others. In the midst
of his personal embarrassment, Jim Calhoun has coached his fanny off.

4. Player to watch: Zeke Marshall of Akron
Charlie Pierce is El Presidente of this kid's Fan Club. Marshall is a Manute Bol-like 7-footer (weighing 220 or so) who sends shots back with regularity, and who, Charlie says, will so discombobulate Notre Dame in the Southwest 2-15 game the Irish will not get themselves together in time to defeat Purdue when they meet a bit farther down the road. Thought I'd pass that along.

5. Another player to watch: Arizona's Derrick Williams
If you want to see the best all-around forward in the land, make sure you catch Arizona vs. Memphis at 2:45 Friday. Williams is a inside beast (6-8, 240) who makes
over 60 percent of his threes!

6. Most unpredictable team: Tennessee
Truly. Bruce Pearl's club could lose to Michigan by 25 in the 8-9 West opener Friday, or they could go to the Final Four, and, no, I'm not kidding. There is no team in the country with a comparable range of possibility . . .

7. Unless it's Michigan State.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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