Dirkness' Top 10 National Championship Contenders
1. Kentucky- Going in on a hot streak with a player that thinks he can do no wrong in crunch time as well as the big man with the most potential to dominate.
2. Kansas- Tough for a team to be labeled as the overwhelming favorite in a year filled with such parody.
3. Syracuse- Chances dropped with Onuaku injury and then increased without seeing Buckeyes or Mountaineers square them in their region.
4. West Virginia- Destined to play Kentucky in East Final, but was higher on my list until Huggy Bear publicly complained about tournament draw.
5. Ohio St- Get on Evan Turner's back for a piggyback riiiiiiiiide.
6. Villanova- Purely due to being sent to the South region sponsored by the NIT.
7. Georgetown- Played the toughest schedule in the country, play an effective style of ball, and have a big man to lean on.
8. Kansas St- Would probably need somebody else to beat KU.
9. Michigan St- Have the potential, most of which is based on last year, but could just as easily go out in the first round.
10. New Mexico- On the list because I know the least about them, so maybe they have something special.
AND 1. Tennessee- Beat the two best teams in the country already, but in the same eight with two teams already on this list.
Top 10 Most likely First Round Upsets (11th seed or lower):
1. UTEP over Butler (12 v 5)- Tough for small schools to be in the favorite role.
2. Cornell over Temple (12 v 5)- The easiest to pick, but the chic upset pick can oftentimes backfire.
3. Washington over Marquette (11 v 6)- Pac-10's best team versus the 8th best Big East team.
4. Murray St over Vanderbilt (13 v 4)- Racers could be inspired due to a player's mother being killed in a car accident this week.
5. Siena over Purdue (13 v 4)- Purdue might be too motivated after being picked against all week.
6. San Diego St over Tennessee (11 v 6)- Possibly the best matchup of the first round.
7. Minnesota over Xavier (11 v 6)- Don't got it. Could see it.
8. Utah St over Texas A&M (12 v 5)- Aggies vs. Aggies. The Utah St Aggies lost by one point in the first round last year.
9. Houston over Maryland (13 v 4)- Cougars led by the NCAA's leading scorer Aubrey Coleman.
10. New Mexico St over Michigan St (12 v 5)- Spartans have the potential but are not playing good ball right now.
AND 1. Oakland over Pittsburgh (14 v 3)- The Raiders are better than the Steelers?
Top 10 Best Potential 2nd Round Matchups:
1. Georgetown vs. Tennessee- Both teams appear on my possible National Champions list, 'nuff said.
2. Ohio St vs. Oklahoma St- For the matchup of Evan Turner and James Anderson, who might be guarding each other.
3. West Virginia vs. Missouri- Tigers' pressure defense is very tough to prepare for, and the Mountaineers lack a true point guard.
4. Baylor vs. Notre Dame- People love Baylor. I love Notre Dame. Both have been hot.
5. Villanova vs. Richmond/St. Mary's- Nova comes in struggling while either opponent fit the Cinderella slipper.
6. Michigan St vs. Maryland- Two big programs with two big-time coaches.
7. Duke vs. Louisville- An even matchup as far as I'm concerned. Here's to hoping that everybody cheers against Duke all tournament long.
8. Kansas St vs. BYU- A contrast in styles could lead to a highly contested game. Or it could lead to State's big nasties beating up the lil' Mormons.
9. Syracuse vs. Gonzaga- The ultimate Cinderella could get a top seed without its starting center playing only six players. Could depend on how well Vermont plays 'Cuse.
10. Wisconsin vs. Cornell- Teams could switch uniforms and I don't think anybody would notice.
AND 1. Kentucky vs. Texas- For the slim, slim chance that Texas finds its old mojo just in time.
I will hope to get my final brackets up here before the games start for the pleasure of everyone else and the embarrassment of myself. Happy First Round Tournament Day tomorrow and the next!!!