Bracket Breakdown: Syracuse
By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
March 13, 2005
They have so much talent that their best NBA prospect (freshman Marvin Williams) doesn't start. They have so much experience that their starting five is something out of the 1980s – two seniors, three juniors.
They have so much firepower they broke the century mark six times this season.
Size, seniors, speed, strength. Whatever you want, North Carolina has it. This is perhaps the best team Roy Williams has ever coached (all those Kansas clubs included).
But Carolina also has four losses against 27 victories. Impressive. But maybe not as impressive as it could have been.
"We're going to go back to Chapel Hill and get back out on the practice court and see if we can get better," Williams said after Georgia Tech pushed the Heels around in the ACC semifinals. "We need to create more cohesiveness on both ends of the floor."
The good news is, Carolina is so good offensively it can make up for any defensive flaws and still win it all. The bad news is, the tournament's best regional is waiting to test the Heels.
That includes a dangerous No. 2 seed in Connecticut, third-seeded Kansas – an emotional matchup for Williams – and two very strong teams in surging Florida (4 seed) and Villanova (5).
So it won't be easy. Although Carolina is good enough to make it seem that way.
1. Kansas and Carolina
He recruited many of the current Jayhawks. He doesn't want to face them. They want to face him ("[The bracket] put a little smile on my face," said KU senior Michael Lee. "I would love to get a chance to play against my former coach."). It's going to be an Oprah special as much as a basketball game.
2. Bill Self
This guy is three storylines all by himself.
3. Kevin Kuwik
CPT Kuwik will be on the bench for the NCAAs, where he ought to be a fan favorite for the entire nation.
Who Will Win?: North Carolina.
Dark-horse Pick (sixth seed or worse): Wisconsin.
They are well-coached, can really shoot and, if it weren't for Illinois, would have put together a dream season. The Badgers are a heck of a No. 6 seed.
Upset Special: Ohio over Florida.
Seven of the last 10 years, a Mid-American Conference team has sprung an NCAA upset. The Bobcats are balanced, fearless and riding an emotional wave. Florida has shown a historic vulnerability to the upset. The Gators can't afford to not come down from the high of winning the SEC tournament.
Fun Potential Matchup: Kansas vs. North Carolina.
So potentially nice, we'll mention it twice.
Or If You Prefer …
Maybe picking teams based on ability isn't your cup of tea. Hey, we all know anything works in the tournament, so here are a few other factors to consider in filling out your Syracuse Regional bracket:
Five Stars to Watch
Charlie Villanueva, So., F, Connecticut: He hasn't been as consistently terrific as recent UConn greats, but the 6-11 forward has the ability to take over games when he plays physically.
Sean May, Jr., F, North Carolina: The Tar Heels have a flashy group of guards and small forwards, but the key to their success is the big man. Case in point, last week's victory over Duke where he went for 26 points and 24 rebounds, which prompted no less than Mike Krzyzewski to declare: "I love Sean May."
Anthony Roberson, Jr., G, Florida: When "Peep" is on, the Gators are tough to beat. This year he's been mostly on, averaging 18.4 points, shooting 88.9 percent from the line, and very much looking to redeem himself from weak NCAA performances of the past.
Curtis Sumpter, Jr., F, Villanova: One of four great Wildcat juniors, Sumpter is a beast who just gets things done around the basket. The Brooklyn native averages an unheralded 16.1 points and 7.1 rebounds and does plenty of the dirty work that has made Villanova good again.
Eddie Basden, Sr., F, Charlotte: Basden teams with Curtis Withers to form a formidable forward duo. Athletic and tough, the 6-5 Basden has the speed to score on the perimeter (15.2 ppg) but the heart to battle on the boards (8.4 rpg).
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Monday, Mar 14, 2005 2:34 am, EST