Few upsets expected in Providence

Jon Albert

The Villanova Wildcats are officially dancing and are the proud owners of the No. 2 seed in the South region of the 2010 NCAA tournament. By now, you probably already have your tournament brackets filled out, but a deeper look into Villanova’s region could be just the edge you need when making your picks.

Thanks for Coming

No. 16 Arkansas Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions are making their first ever apperance in the NCAA tournament, and with that inaugural appearance, earn the right to be blown out by the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night.

No. 15 Robert Morris: The Colonials, winners of the Northeast Conference automatic bid, will struggle to keep up with Villanova’s high-scoring attack.

No. 14 Sam Houston State: With no experience against the nation’s top teams, the Bearkats will likely fall to the No. 3 Baylor Bears and their triumvirate of big-time scorers.

No. 13 Siena: A trendy upset pick, the Saints are led by the nation’s assist leader, Ronald Moore. They are sure to put a scare in No. 4 Purdue, but the Saints won’t be able to keep up with the Boilermakers down the stretch.

No. 12 Utah State: The Aggies were one of the last teams to make the field of 65, perhaps undeservingly so.  The Aggies are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, but with an atrocious nonconference schedule, the Aggies of Utah State are unprepared for the No. 5 Aggies of Texas A&M.

No. 11 Old Dominion: The CAA champions have some impressive nonconference wins this season, including a road win against Big East power Georgetown. The Monarchs now have to face a very difficult and streaking No. 6 Notre Dame team that is playing the best basketball of its season. Luke Harangody and company are unlikely to let themselves be embarrassed early.

No. 10 St. Mary’s: The Gaels stole an at-large bid when they upset the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the WCC final and now must face a No. 7 Richmond Spiders team that could make a deep run as a tournament sleeper. 

No. 8 California: California’s RPI and strength of schedule are both outstanding, but this is a very good example of a team that looks better on paper than on the court. Conversely, the No. 9 Louisville Cardinals have gotten big wins against strong opponents when it has mattered most, including a pair of victories over the Syracuse Orange.


One and Done


No. 9 Louisville: The aforementioned Cardinals will face the Duke Blue Devils in the second round. This game will be a matchup of top coaches, with Louisville’s Rick Pitino facing Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Duke is one of the best shooting teams in the country and will dispose of Louisville quickly.

No. 7 Richmond: Unfortunately for the Spiders, they only have five quality players on their roster, and when the team gets in foul trouble, they struggle. Villanova guards senior Scottie Reynolds and junior Corey Fisher slash and cut to the basket and draw lots of fouls. If the Spiders want to have a chance, they will either have to be disciplined defensively or have a bench player step up.

No. 6 Notre Dame: The Irish have been an up and down team all season. They’ll need to keep up their current streak of well-played basketball against Baylor, who has a three-headed scoring attack with some of the best names in the game: junior guard LaceDarius Dunn, senior guard Tweety Carter and junior forward Ekpe Udoh.

No. 4 Purdue: The Boilermakers have been one of the top teams in the country all season, but their Final Four hopes were shattered when they lost their best player, junior forward Robbie Hummel, to a torn ACL last month. Without Hummel, Purdue will struggle to defend Texas A&M’s post players and will fall just short of the Sweet 16.


How Sweet It Is


That leaves the South Regional with the following four teams making the Sweet 16: Duke, Villanova, Baylor and Texas A&M. The Blue Devils, holding the No. 1 seed, are the favorite to move on to Indianapolis, but don’t sleep on Baylor. The Bears are based out of Waco, Texas, just a short three-hour drive from Houston, and would have a big home-court advantage if they made it to the super-regional. 

While this would surely disappoint Villanova fans, don’t worry just yet: the ‘Cats weren’t favored to defeat Duke or Pittsburgh last season either.