By John Fricke

Anyone can pick #1 seeds (well, maybe not the committee which thinks Oregon is a 1 and Michigan State is not, but let’s set that aside).

It would be easy to look past the 1’s to find Final Four teams in the next line (like MSU) but I wanted to give you one 2 and 4 others that could really make a run.

5) Oklahoma. Yes, they are a 2. They are also playing in what I think is the weakest region.  They also start basically with home games (Norman is a suburb of Oklahoma City).  If Oregon is not really a #1, the Sooners might roll towards Houston.

4) Seton Hall. The Pirates are only a #6, but the are a hot #6. I am on a limb here since their opener vs. Gonzaga is problematic and that’s just for starters. But they are Big East battle-tested and if they survive the first game, they could go on another roll.

3) Iowa State. Now you get what you get with the Cyclones. The good twisters are Final Four talented good, the bad tornadoes are a sloppy end of the game mess. ISU has a good draw in Denver and Virginia in the Sweet-16. If I am a UVA fan I am hoping ISU is gone by then.

2) Kentucky. Seems easy right? What makes this tougher is the bracket they are in and the questions that surround how tested they are given the tremendous lack of depth within the SEC this season. After all UK is only a 4-seed. They have a great guard, great wing and 3 very solid bigs who have now learned to play together (takes time for the kiddies to all get into the same sandbox apparently).  Kentucky gets on a roll and they are a threat to win it all (again) and make the rest of the country remember why it hates Kentucky so darn much.

1) Maryland #5 seed in the South.  The Terps (like MSU and Indiana) are undervalued by the committee. Now, could be that the Big Ten is not that good, could be. Since the tournament tends towards guard oriented Melo Trimble is the kind of guy that can carry a club.  I like Maryland’s draw and they present the first serious problem Kansas might see in the tourney.

I can see only one #1 seed making it to Houston, partly because I view the 1’s as being as flawed as the 4’s in every region. The balance this season will likely make this tournament a memorable one.

Which brings us to… This season’s Cinderella!

Cinderella’s need to be good, hot and get breaks in their bracket.  Northern Iowa is good. They are fairly hot and a team that beat UNC earlier in the year (yes a lesser UNC team than now) but A&M and Oklahoma? Nah.. UNI has a ceiling. No, Cinderella really is St. Joe’s. Oregon in round-2? Doable. Duke down the line? Does Duke really scare much of anyone right now?  St. Joe’s a very good club, again fairly hot and in a bracket that could fall for them.

Now… can they get out of round-1?


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