Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PHSports Staff Picks & Predictions: 2009 NCAA Tournament

Sure, none of us correctly predicted Kansas would win it all last year ... but two out of four PHSports writers did have the Jayhawks in the Final Four. So maybe, just maybe, two of us have this year's winner somewhere in our listings as well. Unfortunately, none of us have my "Lawlma Mater" of American getting to the national semifinals ... but hey I can still dream, right?

So kick back, call Papa John's, and start reading how two of us pick UNC and two of us don't, all before tipoff at 12:20 pm EDT.

"I just don't see why we can't have a 640 team tournament instead ..." (Photo by Dennis Nett/The Post Standard)

Final Four: Villanova, North Carolina, Louisville, UConn
National Champions: North Carolina over UConn
MOP: AJ Price, UConn

Top Sleeper: Arizona State
Under the Radar: Clemson
Underrated: UCLA
Overrated: Illinois, Oklahoma ... and Memphis

1st -Round Upset I Love: Western Kentucky over Illinois (esp. if Chester Frazier does not play)
2nd -Round Matchup I'm Craving: Syracuse v. Arizona State
Final Comment: I anticipate a paucity of first-round upsets, which will set up a series of marquee games between evenly-matched teams on the tail end of the opening weekend. Ultimately, this tournament, like every other NCAA Tournament, will come down to steady guard play. If Ty Lawson is able to overcome his toe injury and Danny Green gets out of his shooting slump, then I expect the Tar Heels to cut down the nets in Detroit.

Final Four: Louisville (Midwest), Memphis (West), Villanova (East), North Carolina (South)
National Champions: Louisville Cardinals
MOP: Terrence Williams, Louisville

Top Sleeper: Stephen F. Austin (mid-major), Purdue (major)
Under the Radar: Butler (mid-major), West Virginia (major)
Underrated: Cleveland State (mid-major), Texas (major)
Overrated: VCU (mid-major...ouch), Kansas (major)

1st -Round Upset I Love: Stephen F. Austin (I don't love it. Believe me. Syracuse is 0-2 in opening round games after reaching or winning the Big East Tournament finals. They lost to #13-seed Vermont and #12-seed Texas A&M. I suspect they will start cold and lose a heartbreaker. However, they'll be a Final Four team next year...if Johnny Flynn remains with the Orange.)
2nd -Round Matchup I'm Craving: Eric Maynor and the upstart Rams of VCU barely get by UCLA, setting them up for a match-up - in Philly - against the Villanova Wildcats. Why? I'd be there. I'd also LOVE to see any scenario with a 16-seed winning. Any of them.
Final Comment: This field is much more open than you think. I'm too Big East heavy; however, I also have Pitt out before the Sweet Sixteen (shocker!) and UCONN out before the Elite Eight (surprise!). Louisville will prove me wrong - yet again - and cut the nets down for Pitino.

Final Four: G'head...hate me...all the #1s make it this year. I'll be the smart-alec that says it.
National Champions: UNC (Sheesh...What's wrong with me?)
MOP: Someone named Tyler (ok...I officially hate myself)

Top Sleeper: Arizona (gotta pick my "alma mater")
Under the Radar: Utah State (that thug they got playing center is a BEAST)
Underrated: Tie...Northern Iowa & Western Kentucky
Overrated: Florida State

1st -Round Upset I Love:
Arizona over Utah, of course
2nd -Round Matchup I'm Craving: American vs. VCU....go Virginia!!!!
Final Comment: I'm filling out my sheet with teams that have the best looking cheerleaders. No other strategy has ever helped me do well in my tourney pools...figure I should implement this strategerie. ;)

Final Four: Louisville (Midwest), Missouri (West), Pitt (East), North Carolina (South)
National Champions: Pitt (over Louisville)
MOP: DeJuan Blair, Pitt

Top Sleeper: West Virginia (major), Western Kentucky (mid-major)
Under the Radar: Clemson (major, Butler (mid-major)
Underrated: Purdue (major), American (mid-major)
Overrated: Oklahoma (major), VCU (mid-major)

1st -Round Upset I Love: Western Kentucky over Illinois. Like Paymon mentioned, Frazier is not at 100% even if he does play, and that will hurt the Illini, especially against a strong 12-seed in Western Kentucky. And yes ... I do think they can repeat their Sweet 16 appearance of last year.
2nd -Round Matchup I'm Craving: UNC vs Butler, especially if Ty Lawson isn't back. Butler is an extremely solid squad that got jobbed (in my opinion) with the 9-seed. I think Butler's defense will give Hansbrough and Co. lots of trouble before finally giving way to the 'Heels in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Final Comment: The tourney is the Big East's to lose. Aside from 2-3 upsets (I don't count 9's beating 8's as an upset), I think the first round will hold true to form. Unfortunately, a lot of deserving mid-majors were excluded from this tournament (read: Creighton and St. Mary's) and saw their rightful spots go to undeserving majors (read: Arizona and Wisconsin). Good to know that Fudgy Packer still has his unannounced seat on the Selection Committee.

Yeah ... you know can't wait to see him at this job instead either. (Credit

Thanks for listening to us ... now make sure you DON'T bet your savings on our picks (though it's safer than investing in Citi...). Got an opinion? Want to tell us how wrong we are? Chime in below!


Armin said...

I think if I had to choose one of these to sets of predictions to help me fill out my brackets, I'd have to choose Sum's.

We got the NCAA basketball brainchilds, Paymon and Clement who may have that element of overthought. Then there is my severe LACK of thought.

Sum falls somewhere in the middle (though his college basketball knowledge is still vast), and in my experience...those are the people that end up sitting pretty at the end of the tournament.

Sum said...

My college b-ball knowledge is far from vast ... rather, it's vastly deficient :-p

And my 2nd round matchup I'm craving is already shot to hell, haha.

Anonymous said...

Clemson under the radar, Pay?

1) Love the blog!

2) Go Blue

Anonymous said...

Hey, is that Billy Packer standing underneath the restroom sign or Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)?

Or perhaps that Packer looking for Craig?

Not to mix sports and politics or anything .... but this is where Sport and Thought Intersect, right?!?

Paymon said...

Yes ... but not even close to as under the radar as the person who I think just commented.