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True Madness Takes Hold in This Year's NCAA Tournament
by John Blagtas on Mar 28, 2006
"What in the world is going on in the college game?" Those were my thoughts having watched George Mason upend UConn. Saturday was a bit of a surprise when both the lower seeds won. But Sunday sealed the deal with the surprise of all surprises: it is the first time a number 1 seed hasn't made the final four. An interesting explanation, given on a talk radio show, was that the big basketball schools -- the UConn's, Duke's, UNC's, etc. -- had been squeezed out by so much top talent going to the NBA early. It has led to a leveling out of the talent gap between small and big schools, with the bigs no longer having that superstar player. Whatever the case, "That's what happens when you play a one-shot deal", as Florida's coach Billy Donovan could be heard saying.
2006 Final Four Teams
LSU has just the right mix of athleticism, grit and talent. Many thought they would take more time to gel with so many underclassmen, but the time is now and they have seized destiny. Tyrus Thomas and Glen "Big Baby" Davis have become household names.
UCLA is a team that escapes and lives to fight another day. "Scrappy", "good backcourt" and "tough defense" are terms that have been the used to describe this year's Bruins. What they lack in talent, they give back in effort.
Florida is the most talented of the group and the oddsmakers' favorite to win it all. Who can blame them? They have the inside/outside game. They have big men, defensive stoppers and talented guards. After starting the season 17-0, they went into a little funk but have now won nine in a row and seem to be putting it all together at the right time.
George Mason Patriots
George Mason has become the most beloved team in the nation. They are an underdog who will have fans, most from teams that have already fallen, rooting from far and wide. If they were to win it, the miracle of Villanova in the mid-80s would surely have been surpassed.
Florida over George Mason 75 - 70 -- Florida's talent is too much for George Mason.
Actual Result: Florida 73 George Mason 58
LSU over UCLA 63 - 55 -- The LSU front court talent will wear out the Bruins.
Actual Result: UCLA 59 LSU 45
Update: It's official, the final four was a snoozer. UCLA dominated LSU, so there goes my pick and as expected Florida took it to George Mason.
LSU over Florida -- A great match up of Joakim Noah and Glen "Big Baby" Davis but in the spirit of underdogs coming through in 2006, LSU is the team with enough moxie and grit to win it all. Not to mention they have rising star, Tyrus Thomas. In a state so decimated by nature in 2006, at least for a day, there will be celebration.
UCLA over Florida -- As balanced as Florida is, what UCLA demonstrated against LSU is hard to deny. Specifically, if Jordon Farmar can unlease the same kind of game he had against LSU, the Bruins will win. The Gators will be a tougher opponent, but the one constant UCLA has shown is defensive toughness and sweet guard play; the stuff of champions.
by John Blagtas on Mar 28, 2006