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In the next few days I will post my full bracket prediction for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Below are my quick reactions to the bracket unveiling by region.  Of course, I do reserve the right to change my mind.

Midwest Region

Early pick – Kansas
If not, then – Ohio State
Sleeper – Tennessee
Double digit seed that could cause trouble – Georgia Tech

West Region

Early pick – Syracuse
If not, then – Kansas State
Sleeper – Gonzaga
Double digit seed that could cause trouble – UTEP

East Region

Early pick – Kentucky
If not, then – West Virginia
Sleeper – Marquette
Double digit seed that could cause trouble – Cornell

South Region

Early pick – Villanova
If not, then – Baylor
Sleeper – Texas A&M
Double digit seed that could cause trouble – Siena

Who do you like to make the Final Four?  Add your comments below.

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So, just like I initially predicted it’s Syracuse vs. West Virginia in the final…oh, okay, well I wasn’t that far off.  In reality, I’m not surprised that Georgetown beat Syracuse, nor that they will be playing for the Big East Championship tonight against West Virginia.  The Big East Tournament has often been about a dominating player and the Hoyas certainly have one in Greg Monroe.  Monroe had 16 points and 8 rebounds against USF; 15 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists against Syracuse; and 23 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists against Marquette.

Of course, the Mountaineers have had their own dominating player in Da’Sean Butler.  He hit the winning shot against Cincinnati while scoring 15 points, pulling in 6 rebounds and dishing 5 assists.  He followed that up with 24 points and 7 rebounds against Notre Dame last night.

It was less than two weeks ago that these two teams had their only meeting of the season on senior day in Morgantown.  The Mountaineers got off to an early lead and dominated that game.  The final score was 81-68.  The Hoyas were without the services of Austin Freeman, who missed the game with a mysterious illness that would soon be determined to be diabetes.

As for this game, I’d look to West Virginia to try to get a lot of defensive pressure on Georgetown.  They will try to take advantage of the extra day of rest they have coming into this game.  It was heavy defensive pressure that helped them beat the Hoyas in the first matchup.  Georgetown will have to take care of the ball and run a methodical offense.  If they get involved in a fast-paced, up and down game they will be in trouble.

Both of these teams rebound the ball very well.  Whoever can control the boards will have a big advantage.  I think West Virginia will keep the pace where they want it; distribute the ball well on offense; take advantage of Georgetown’s extra day of playing and short bench; and get the big win.  My final score prediction is 75-69. This should be enough to get West Virginia a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.  If you think that sounds ridiculous, look at this evaluation of the resumes of WVU and Duke.  Of course, I’ll still be surprised if they were to get the one seed over the Blue Devils.

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As we head toward the last two weeks of the regular season, there are seven Big East teams sitting squarely on the bubble.  Some have better resumes than others, but all seven have a chance if they can make a run.  Here’s what I think each team needs to do to get an NCAA Tournament invitation:

Louisville – 18-9 (9-5), RPI: 30, SOS: 9

Remaining Schedule: Georgetown, @Connecticut, @Marquette, Syracuse
The Cardinals have the best RPI of the bubble teams, but they also have the toughest schedule.  Two wins in those last four games and a first round Big East tournament victory will guarantee a spot in the big dance.  I think they still get in with some combination of two wins in the regular season and tournament.  It would be very difficult for the committee to leave them out with 10 league victories. 
Bottom Line – In

Marquette – 17-9 (8-6), RPI: 59, SOS: 55

Remaining Schedule: @St. John’s, @Seton Hall, Louisville, Notre Dame
While Marquette has the second best record of the Big East bubble teams, their RPI is relatively weak.  They have bad losses against DePaul and N.C. State.  To their advantage they have beaten the three Big East bubble teams they have played (Connecticut, USF and Cincinnati) and a chance to beat the other three (Seton Hall, Louisville and Notre Dame).  Three more regular season wins and they are in.
Bottom Line – In

Connecticut – 17-11 (7-8), RPI: 45, SOS: 2

Remaining Schedule: Louisville, @Notre Dame, @USF
What a roller coaster season it has been for the Huskies.  Over the past few games they have seemed to stabilize.  Monday night they got a very nice win over West Virginia.  The three games they have left will give them a chance to put some distance between themselves and the field.  They need some combination of three wins during the rest of the regular season and the Big East tournament to guarantee a spot.
Bottom Line – In

Seton Hall – 15-10 (6-8), RPI: 51, SOS: 13

Remaining Schedule: Rutgers, Marquette, @Rutgers, @Providence
The Pirates have a decent RPI, which works to their advantage.  The challenge is that it will only fall with the four games they have left to play, even if they win them.  I think their only real chance to make the tournament is to sweep the last four games and win in the first round of the Big East tournament.  They need to take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate themselves from Marquette.
Bottom Line – Out

Notre Dame – 17-10 (6-8), RPI: 80, SOS: 66

Remaining Schedule: Pitt, @Georgetown, Connecticut, @Marquette
The Irish have had a pretty flat season.  They have a couple of bad losses and one marquis win over West Virginia.  The only reason they are on this list is because their remaining schedule gives them a chance to play their way in.  To do so they have to either win all four remaining games and a first round Big East tourney game or three of the last four and three in the Big East tournament.
Bottom Line – Out

USF – 16-10 (6-8), RPI: 68, SOS: 52

Remaining Schedule: @Villanova, Providence, @DePaul, Connecticut
The Bulls were the feel good story of the middle of the conference season.  They won four straight games and were really sneaking up on people.  They they fell back down to earth.  They have a couple of big wins (Pitt, @Georgetown) and will need a couple more to get in the big dance.  I think they need to win all four remaining games and one in the Big East tourney.
Bottom Line – Out

Cincinnati – 15-11 (6-8), RPI: 56, SOS: 17

Remaining Schedule: DePaul, @West Virginia, Villanova, @Georgetown
Unpredictable is a good word to describe the Bearcats.  They have excellent out of conference victories over Maryland and Vanderbilt.  They have two wins over Connecticut.  And they have also lost to Seton Hall and St. John’s.  To guarantee a spot they need to win three of their last four and two in the Big East tournament.
Bottom Line – Out

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