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Westsider Rider

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I love the NCAA Tournament, like you didn't know that

End of the month and quarter so I'm at work here on Saturday, at least I get to put up a weekend post for the first time maybe ever. Another great day of games last night, only drawback being I was only 2-2 on my picks and hurt more considering my two losses were on teams that I bet on. Once again caught the end of the early game, BC-Villanova, on the radio on the drive home. I didn't think that Nova would be able to handle the size of BC, but at the same time I knew the Nova 4 guard lineup could be difficult to handle at end of games considering the versatility of all the guys they would have on the floor at that time.

While at work I was able to catch the George Mason-Witchita State matchup on MMOD and there's nothing much to report from that game. George Mason took control early and never gave it up. The Shockers magical run ends here while the Colonials will continue on, only one game away from the Final Four. GMU becomes the first mid major to make it to the Elite Eight since Antonio Gates and Kent State back in 02. I don't think they'll be able to beat UConn but who knows they've made it this far.

The two later games I was able to watch/follow on TV and they were both great games. The Georgetown-Florida game went down to the wire as the Gators made the plays to pull it out at the end when the Hoyas couldn't. CBS just switched to it at the end out here so I wasn't able to watch it until the end. I still think that last And 1 that Florida got should have been a jump ball but that's my opinion.

The game I watched when I wasn't watching Michigan hockey get destroyed by North Dakota was the Husky matchup between UConn and UW. I thought UConn would be able to control the game from the beginning but I was way off. I didn't give Washington enough credit as I was not impressed by what I had seen from them during the season but they are a good squad and Brandon Roy is a player. He has great game on both ends of the floor and I would love to see him on the Lakers. UConn just doesn't seem to get it going until the end of the game like they're just sleepwalking through the game and decide to flip the switch with only a few minutes left. They are talented enough to do it but unless they get their act together I don't think my pick for the National Championship will get it done.

Now I can preview the Elite Eight matchups as they are all set:

Memphis-UCLA - Memphis has rolled through the tourney so far as they have yet to be tested much by anyone they have played. But they have yet to play anyone difficult so far as their road to the Elite Eight consists of beating a 16, 9 and a 13. That will change as they face the Bruins of UCLA tonight in a rematch of an earlier season matchup in which the Tigers won. However that is a completely different team that they played compared to the team the Bruins put on the floor now. UCLA dismantled Belmont after an early slow start and then played two close games against Alabama and Gonzaga to make it to this point. I think that experience will help them out as Memphis is also a young team but since they have yet to face any adversity in the tourney I think the Bruins will frustrate the Tigers and come out on top to advance to the Final Four.

LSU-Texas - this would be a great matchup to see on the gridiron but it will be just as good on the hardwood as these two traditional football powers meet for the right to head to the Final Four. LSU needed a 3 near the buzzer to advance past Texas A&M in the 2nd round and then took care of business against Duke to make it to this point. Tyrus Thomas played an amazing game on Thursday to spark the Bayou Bengals to the Elite Eight. The Tigers are an extremely athletic team that will give any team fits. The Longhorns needed a GW 3 from Kenton Paulino at the buzzer to finish off the Mountaineers after controlling the game for the first half. I'm having a tough time making a pick because I think this could go either way but I'm gonna go with the Longhorns to win a close game since I will always root for Texas whenever they are not playing Michigan, North Carolina, UCLA and maybe Georgia.

George Mason - Connecticut - George Mason has had an amazing run so far defeating Michigan State, North Carolina and now Witchita State but I think the magic carpet ride ends here as they take on UConn. But if UConn comes out and starts playing like crap again the longer George Mason hangs around the more confidence they will get and I wouldn't be completely shocked if they pulled off the upset. I still think that UConn will be too much for the Colonials to handle, although they will have more of a partisan crowd in DC since their school isn't too far from there.

Villanova - Florida - In my bracket I had the Final Four of this region correct but I had BC defeating Villanova and beating Florida to move onto the Final Four. I'm going to stick with that thinking and take Villanova to advance. This is a very good Wildcat team which I did not think would be able to handle BC's size and they did so I don't think they'll have a problem with the Gators, yes I know they've got Horford and Noah but I still believe Nova moves on. Besides all Michigan fans that follow recruiting know what Horford did to us so I will never root for Florida, I've always hated Florida, sorry EDSBS.

Michigan hockey got destroyed by North Dakota, not a surprising result considering the year they've been having but I got much more excited about the game after hearing that Minnesota had lost to Holy Cross. Hopefully we don't have another group of players leave early for the NHL and maybe we can get it back together for next year. Welcome to the rallying cry of all Michigan fans, "next year is the year!" Well for me anyways considering how much talent we have in all sports and end up not doing much with it and then ending up pointing towards the roster we will return next season and how everything will change. I thought that way all throughout my four years in Ann Arbor and it never did anything but cause me more pain when it turned out the next year was exactly the same as the year before.

Onto a positive, the Lakers won 3 games in a row for the first time since the middle of January. The Lake show still sits in 7th position 3 games ahead in the win column over the Sacramento
Queens but the Hornets and the Jazz are right there to jump in if either team falters down the stretch. There is a huge game tonight in Utah between the Jazz and the Queens. Between the teams the Lakers have 2 games left with the Hornets to give them some breathing room. In addition to tonight's game the Jazz have 2 games against the Hornets while the Queens have one. That means the Hornets, although they are in the 9th spot right now still have a lot of control over making the playoffs or not since they have 2 games remaining with the Lakers, 2 with Utah and 1 with Sacramento. It will be an interesting ending to the Western Conference playoff race this year.

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