2006 March Madness Predictions

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2006 March Madness Predictions
by Bob Acton of Sportingbet USA – now SuperBook.com

The clock is ticking for several schools who are hell bent ongetting that V.I.P. in the mail from the NCAA Selection Committeethat will have the task of selecting just 65 teams for the bigdance in a few weeks.

Having watched hundreds of games this winter I can tell youthat Connecticut and Duke are going to be there when the dustsettles at the end of March, but there are at least two otherschools that will be headed to the final four. Who will it be!

The ACC is a very topsy-turvy conference once you get past Duke,with Boston College and North Carolina State, the two schoolswho are very capable. BC is a former resident of the Big East,so it can bang on the boards and has now got the ACC up tempolook to their game. Seven of BC’s ten ACC games have been decidedby four points or less and they are a horrible free throw team,so if you pick them, they are going to make you sweat at the endof games.

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North Carolina State can shoot the rock and theconstant flow offense causes problems for big teams. They area very unselfish team and if they get a lead, their free throwshooting will bury teams. Their Achilles heel is the bad habitof giving up big leads, but they will go far in March.

The Atlantic 10 has George Washington at 22-1and 12-0 in Conference play. The Colonials just need to keep followingthe script that’s worked so well for them thus far — balancedscoring, willingly sharing the ball, intense on-the-ball pressure— and they’ll beat two of the A-10’s bigger surprise teams (LaSalle, Fordham) this week. La Salle and Fordham both feature frontcourtstuds (La Salle’s Steven Smith, Fordham’s Bryant Dunston), butnot nearly the frontcourt depth of GW. A sleeper could be Xavier,but they will need huge efforts from several players and win theirconference tournament. Xavier senior Brian Thornton their leadingscorer and rebounder with 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a gamesuffered a college career-ending fractured ankle against La Salleon Feb. 11. He’s undergone successful surgery and will attemptto come back and play pro ball somewhere, most likely overseas.

When No. 1 UConn lost to Villanova on Monday,the national discussion about which team should take over thetop spot surrounded No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Villanova, with verylittle mention of No. 3 Memphis. Certainly, playing in ConferenceUSA hasn’t helped the Tigers’ reputation in recent weeks, butthe Tigers are still making something of a case for the top spotin the polls and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. For example,Memphis’ 24 victories are tied with Duke for the nation’s highesttotal; the Tigers’ current 13-game winning streak is the nation’ssecond-longest, trailing only George Washington’s 14-game streak;Memphis is 10-0 on the road this season, making the Tigers thenation’s only unbeaten road team. Their road wins include winsat Providence, Cincinnati, Alabama and Ole Miss. Also, Memphishas played more games (four) against teams currently rated inthe RPI Top-10 than any other team in the nation and owns a 7-2record vs. Top-50 RPI teams and a 10-2 mark against the Top-100RPI.

Michigan State is always visible come tournamenttime and they bring experience and great coaching with them. Theyhave frustrated me to death when playing on the road and their11-0 home record indicates where they are most comfortable. Fortunatelythe dance is at neutral sites, so they should go very deep, buttheir center Davis needs to get nasty once in a while. The 6-11senior has 85 career double-doubles. His 18 points moved him intoninth all-time at MSU with 1,592 career points.

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