NCAA Sweet 16

By Jeff Lippman - March 17, 2008

The No. 1 seeds shouldn't be too difficult to predict. Neither should be the No. 2s.

The three and four seeds is where it starts to get a little dicey. Here are my predictions for the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament when the brackets are announced at 7 p.m. Monday:

No. 1 Seeds:
Connecticut (32-1) - top overall seed gets the New Orleans region and plays first round game in Fairfield, Conn.
Tennessee (30-2)
North Carolina (30-2)
Stanford (30-3)

By winning the Pac-10 Tournament title, the Cardinal claim the No. 1 seed from the likes of Maryland, Rutgers or LSU.

Jerry Palm's "Road to 64" bracket doesn't have any discrepancies between our top seeds.

No. 2 Seeds:
Maryland (30-3)
LSU (27-5)
Rutgers (24-6)
Texas A&M (26-7)

Once again, Mr. Palm and I agree on the teams who made the No. 2 seeding.

Maryland is by far the best of the No. 2s. LSU follows close behind, although their record isn't nearly as solid. Winning the regular-season SEC title over Tennessee helps.

Rutgers' record might not be that impressive. Beating Maryland, Connecticut and de facto Tennessee in Knoxville (remember that was the game that many feel Rutgers won but was robbed of the victory), proves the Scarlet Knights are a contender. This is the same team that was national runners-up last year.

Texas A&M grabbed the final No. 2 spot by beating Oklahoma State - who would have received the No. 2 in my opinion had they beaten the Aggies - in the Big 12 title game. The Aggies started the year off slow by losing four of their first five conference games, but ended white hot winning 13 of their final 14 and their last nine in a row.

No. 3 Seeds
Baylor (24-6)
Oklahoma State (25-7)
Duke (23-9)
California (26-6)

This is where Mr. Palm and I begin to disagree.

Both of us have Baylor and Duke as three seeds. The Bears backed into their seeding by losing in their conference tournament where they were the two seed, but the Blue Devils did wonders for their seeding by beating Maryland in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Had Duke lost that game by the wide margin many predicted, Joanne P. McCallie's team might have landed a five seed or worse.

In my estimation, Oklahoma State deserves a three seed. The Cowgirls certainly finished with a respectable record and their Big 12 Tournament run was inspiring. Anyone who watched that Big 12 final against Texas A&M knows that the Cowgirls are one of the best teams in the country and their sophomore guard, Andrea Riley, is one of the best players in the nation - if not the best under 5-foot-6. Palm gives the Cowgirls a four seed, instead choosing to laud Notre Dame and Old Dominion has threes.

So I have Cal and Oklahoma State and Palm has the Irish and Monarchs.

No. 4 Seeds:
Old Dominion (29-4)
Notre Dame (23-8)
UTEP (27-3)
Louisville (24-9)

Palm gives his four seeds to Utah, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Cal. As we saw above, I gave Cal and OSU three seeds. So Palm is underestimating the Bears and Cowgirls, but he is overestimating Utah and the Sooners.

Utah lost in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament against Colorado State. The Rams, although hit by tragedy after last season's infamous "prank heard 'round the world," only won four games all season, and two came in the tournament. To me, if the Utes were really of four seed quality, they'd have fared slightly better than losing to one of the worst teams in all of college basketball.

Palm gave Old Dominion a three seed as well, but I have them at four. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Monarchs grab the three after winning their conference tournament Sunday. Of course, they could only defeat VCU by the slimmest of margins after being down by 18 during the game. The comeback shows that the Monarchs have spirit, the margin proves they might not be as good as many think. They certainly aren't deserving of a higher seed than Cal, Baylor, Oklahoma State or Duke.

Cal, on the other hand, deserves the three seed, instead of the four that Palm awarded them with. The Bears had a stellar season and if it were not for another Bay Area team called Stanford - and more specifically, a player named Candice Wiggins, the Bears might be the No. 1 seed right now instead of the Cardinal. Cal only lost six games this year, three to Stanford, one to Rutgers in Piscataway, one at Baylor and one bad one at Washington State. With Cal's dynamic threesome of Alexis Gray-Lawson, Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker, the Bears could get hot and make a tournament run.

Notre Dame was handed a three seed from Palm, while I felt the four was more to their suiting. The Irish weren't lucky enough this season to deserve that No. 3 seed. In fact, in seven games against ranked foes, Notre Dame could only win twice, and those came against Syracuse and Pitt, two teams who weren't ranked all season. And the Irish lost their last two games against St. John's and versus the Panthers in the Big East Tournament. That isn't enough to warrant the three seed, in my opinion.

UTEP, however, does deserve the four seed, although Mr. Palm doesn't feel that way. Palm disrespects the Miners by labeling them a seven seed, but with 27 wins compared to only three losses, I can't keep UTEP outside the top four seedings.

The Miners of C-USA finished the season ranked inside the Top 25 at No. 22 in the AP. They have an RPI of 16, making them one of the best 16 teams in the nation according to that poll. Their only losses of the season came in their opening game against Nebraska, later versus Kansas State and in the C-USA finals against SMU. All three teams who beat the Miners will make the NCAA Tournament. UTEP went into the C-USA final on a 23-game winning streak, and so were due a hiccup. Their other two losses came early and on the road. In my mind, that is more than enough reason to seed the Miners at No. 4.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2008

Post A Comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

The Sloggers... Archives... Links CSTV Slogs Posts By Site