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March 17, 2005

NCAA analysis: Syracuse regional

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Of the four regional brackets, Syracuse arguably boasts the most talented teams from top to bottom. Even the number ten seed, N.C. State, has a chance of getting to the Sweet Sixteen.

North Carolina is going to cream the winner of the Oakland/Alabama A&M game, there's no doubt about that. If North Carolina plays up to its potential and gets a few lucky breaks, there's a very good chance that the Chapel Hill baby blue will be gracing St. Louis come April 4th.

Fifth seed Villanova at 21-6 is also one of the teams to watch in this region. Throughout the course of the season, they have beaten Kansas, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, too. The only problem is that they are a relatively small team and if the outside shot doesn't fall for them, they will lose.

The toughest test for UNC will come when they face Kansas in the Elite Eight. Kansas is a well-disciplined and efficient team. Always a contender in late March, the Jayhawks have a 12-3 record in the NCAA tournament over the last three seasons. The Jayhawks will be led by one of the premiere big men in college, center Wayne Simien. Simien is averaging 20.2 points along with 11.1 rebounds a game and he was the sole reason that the Jayhawks got past Oklahoma State during the semifinals of the Big-12 tournament.

North Carolina State lives and dies on the play of Julius Hodge, arguably the best player in the ACC, a conference already loaded with the likes of J.J. Redick, Sean May, Rashad McCants, B.J. Elder, Jarrett Jack and John Gilchrist. Hodge is a savvy offensive playmaker who has that rare ability to make everyone around him better as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he carries the Wolfpack a round or two and wills N.C. State into the Sweet Sixteen.

Upset Special:

N.C. State over Charlotte and Connecticut en route to the Sweet Sixteen:

As stated above, N.C. State has a great player in Julius Hodge. In addition to that, head coach Herb Sendek has the Wolfpack playing great defense in late March. Also, the Wolfpack are on a little bit of a high after stunning Wake Forest (albeit without Chris Paul) in the ACC tourney. Frankly, Charlotte is defensively challenged and Hodge will exploit that to the fullest. And don't forget that Connecticut lost both Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon last year and UConn's number two ranking seems based more on reputation than on actual on-court production. If Sendek can keep his guys focused, you can expect N.C. State to be celebrating their Sweet Sixteen appearance.

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  • AMZING! on March 20, 2005 at 9:34 PM
    GREAT CALL! good job i recind my earlier comments about your horrible picks for the playoffs in the NFL...
    upset fan
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