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Excuse my Madness

March 20, 2003|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Thoughts from a guy who will be seeing a lot of red on his NCAA Tournament bracket by Saturday, as usual:

  • When Maryland plays Xavier in the second round (provided the Terps beat UNC-Wilmington, which is not a sure thing), who will guard David West? Calvin McCall? Tahj Holden? Nik Caner-Medley? Jamar Smith? Does it even matter? West is the toughest matchup in the nation. Only Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony comes close.

  • Did Texas coach Rick Barnes blink hard when he saw LSU -- a team that just made a run in the tough SEC Tournament -- as the eighth seed in his region and a possible opponent in the second round?

  • What were the ESPN guys thinking Sunday while hyping Mississippi State in the East? They do this to one poor team every year. The Bulldogs are a solid team, but to make the Final Four (as ESPN predicted), they may have to beat, in order, Butler, Louisville, Oklahoma and Syracuse. Yeah, right.

  • If Kentucky tries to sleepwalk through the first weekend, Oregon may give the Wildcats a rude awakening. The Ducks have failed to meet expectations this season, but are another dangerous eighth seed. Should Kentucky survive that test, the Wildcats won't get challenged again until the Elite Eight (by either Pittsburgh or Missouri) in the easiest region for a top seed.

  • Other coaches whose tournament excitement vanished when they saw their first-round opponent -- Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan (Weber State), Creighton coach Dana Altman (Central Michigan), Stanford coach Mike Montgomery (San Diego), Michigan State coach Tom Izzo (Colorado) and Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton (Pennsylvania). These guys are making meals of Maalox right now.

  • One of the four ACC teams will make a run to the Elite Eight -- one always does. Which one is anyone's guess.

  • Is it too early to plead with CBS to keep the Indiana-Alabama train wreck off the air?

  • Potential second-round matchups I'd pay good money to see: Kentucky-Oregon, Texas-LSU, Penn-Syracuse, Notre Dame-Illinois, Missouri-Marquette.

  • Players who can (and will most likely need to) carry their teams to six wins in three weeks -- Hollis Price, (Oklahoma), David West (Xavier), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse).

  • Teams whose overall depth and talent, moreso than one standout player, can win six straight -- Kentucky, Arizona, Texas (the Longhorns have more than T.J. Ford).

  • One guy who may not win six straight games for his team, but can single-handedly win any one game -- J.J. Redick (Duke). It's because of his long-range shooting that the Blue Devils must be taken seriously.

  • My Elite Eight -- LSU vs. Xavier (South), Oklahoma-Syracuse (East), Kentucky-Missouri (Midwest), Arizona-Duke (West).

  • My Final Four -- Xavier, Syracuse, Kentucky, Arizona.

    (Midwest), Arizona-Duke (West).

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  • My champion -- Arizona over Syracuse.

  • My odds of being right -- as good as any 16th seed.
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