- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008


Kansas: In spite of some Self-examination, the Jayhawks must be on anyone’s short list of teams capable of winning the tournament. There are no flaws in a starting lineup led by Darrell Arthur, and Sherron Collins and Sasha Kaun are two of the nation’s top reserves. The biggest asterisk might be Kansas’ early exits in 2005 and 2006 under Bill Self.

Wisconsin: The best of a questionable Big Ten crop, the Badgers aren’t going through a late-season swoon like a year ago. That should make them a more palatable option this month, though a Final Four run might be a bit too much to ask. Coach Bo Ryan’s swing offense is difficult to prepare for on short notice, which is always a plus in postseason play.

Gonzaga: No one is talking about the Bulldogs, who are such postseason regulars (10 straight NCAA berths and counting) that it seems like they have a birthright to be in the field. Nevertheless, Gonzaga has all the ingredients needed for a decent run — balance, talent, smarts and a great point guard in West Coast Conference player of the year Jeremy Pargo (11.9 ppg, 6.0 apg).


Clemson: Memphis can get away with poor foul shooting to some extent because of a tricky offense and an abundance of talent. Clemson, while both improved and fairly well coached, will be done in by its late-game flubbings at the free throw line. This is the Tigers’ first NCAA trip since 1998, and they’re as good a choice as any to be at the wrong end of a surprise in the first two days.

Kansas State: For every Carmelo Anthony or Danny Manning who can will a team to a championship, there are scores of Kevin Durants and Adam Morrisons that fall short of such heroics. Michael Beasley is unquestionably a fantastic talent and will excite pro fans for years to come. But his stay in the NCAA tournament will be short because he only has so much help.

Vanderbilt: It is undeniable the Commodores are one of the nastiest homecourt teams in the country. Unfortunately for them, they won’t play another game at Memorial Gym this season. Vanderbilt was 2-6 in SEC road games, and that glaring weakness often pops up in the postseason. Shan Foster only will be able to do so much, but a Sweet 16 trip might be a stretch.

Georgetown: Teams that are 6-0 in games decided by five points or less probably have received a disproportionate number of breaks. Someone who spouts cliches will declare the Hoyas “know how to win.” Someone rational will acknowledge they’re good but also a bit lucky (and not as good as last year). Be the rational person and let others put Georgetown in the Final Four.


Kansas: Neither the No. 4 seed (Vanderbilt) nor No. 5 (Clemson) are on the Jayhawks’ level. The Big 12 tournament title earned Kansas a sweet ride to the Elite Eight.

Wisconsin: All of the first weekend attention will be on freshmen Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, but Brian Butch and the Badgers have the stifling defense to make a real run.


Vanderbilt: MAAC champion Siena is a tough No. 13 seed, and the Commodores would draw one of two sweet-shooting guards — K.C. Rivers or Scottie Reynolds — in the second round.

Kent State: This is the reward for the 28-win MAC champion? The Golden Flashes are forced to contend with UNLV, and would be lucky to just hang with Kansas.


Best player Michael Beasley, Kansas State: Behold Beasley in all his glory. So what if he’s a freshman, his supporting cast isn’t the greatest, his coach is relatively untested and the Wildcats have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1998. Beasley is the best player in the country this season, and it will be entertaining to see whether he and K-State can do some damage.

Most dangerous low-major Davidson: How many teams boast a backcourt better than Stephen Curry (25.1 ppg) and Jason Richards (8.0 apg)? Not many. The Wildcats haven’t lost since before Christmas, went 23-0 against Southern Conference opponents and put a scare into Maryland in last year’s tournament. Davidson will win its first NCAA game — and perhaps more — since Lefty Driesell was stomping on its sideline.


Southern Cal vs. Kansas State: This game features two of the top freshmen in the nation. No one would be surprised — or dissapointed — if Mayo and Beasley go shot-for-shot in a thriller.

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