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NCAA Tournament Projections: 'Bracket Now' Commentary for January 25th, 2009

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It finally feels as if Selection Sunday and the Tournament are just around the corner. About one and a half months away. Right now, Duke is probably the weakest overall top seed I have put in that spot all season. U. Conn. is playing great basketball right now and by next week, could hold that coveted spot in the bracket. It was a little difficult. What to do with Wake Forest? That was not a good loss for them, simply because it was at home.

It is a little hard to believe that North Carolina continues to get shut out of the one seed, but they really need to just keep winning and everything else will take care of itself. I am much into predictions. By Selection Sunday, it will be North Carolina who is the overall top seed.

How strong is the Big East? I say it every week, but they just seem to get better and better. Louisville is rolling and has been promoted to a two seed. Syracuse is still tough; they waxed Notre Dame and then were bitten by Louisville. Marquette remains perfect in the league, and they jump up to a three seed. Come on Georgetown and Notre Dame, you are basically the bottom feeders at this point with a pair of five seeds.

There has been so much shuffling within teams seeded fifth through eleventh. Florida seems to be the class of the weak SEC which is only good enough for a six seed. The Big Ten is starting to really beat up on each other. Illinois may be seeded too high at a five, but I still believe the Big Ten is tough, and the Illini are the second best right now. What has happened to Wisconsin? They were my last team in, and if they don’t start putting some conference wins together, they could be headed for the NIT.

Virginia Tech was probably the biggest winner of the week. They weren’t really considered for the field last week. But now, they go in to Salem and knock off the Deamon Deacons, then they best Miami in overtime, and all of a sudden they are a ten seed playing against a beatable Kansas squad in Dayton, OH.

Look, I’m a big fan of Butler and St. Mary’s. Two very nice programs who just keep winning, but I’m having a hard time justifying a higher seed than the eights, just because of the schedule they played. Butler probably deserves a little better; they lost to Ohio State, but defeated Xavier. St. Mary’s has yet to play Gonzaga, so give it some time. Some of these power conference schools in the six, seven seed range will start to lose more, and Butler and St. Mary’s will be able to creep up. I will say that it will be hard to justify a seed much higher than six; unless the Gaels can sweep Gonzaga and run the table in the WCC…

Take a look at the twelve seeds, if this was the bracket we were faced with in March, I could say that all four twelve seeds have a good shot at advancing. Oklahoma State is a team from a power conference and Georgetown certainly has some weaknesses, youth being one of them. Siena is no stranger to the Cinderella lifestyle, Northern Iowa will be battle tested and Gonzaga always seems to struggle in early round games. Finally, Wisconsin has been there before and will not be scared to face the Irish.

With this bracket, I’d go with a Final Four of: Louisville, North Carolina, Gonzaga, and Oklahoma.



Karl Gustafson Staff Writer & 2009 NCAA Tournament Projections
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