By John Akers, Special to Yahoo! Sports
March 12, 2007
Regional predictions: Midwest | West | East | South | Final Four/Championship
1. Kansas over 16. Niagara
Bucknell. Bradley. Bet that Bill Self will be happy to get those first-round exits behind him.
9. Villanova over 8. Kentucky
That already scorching heat on Tubby Smith rises 10 or 20 degrees as the Wildcats along the Main Line beat the Wildcats of Lexington.
12. Illinois over 5. Virginia Tech
The giant-killing Hokies were ordinary against everyone else, and the Illini hardly qualify as giants. Illinois has ways of stopping underappreciated guard Zabian Dowdell.
4. Southern Illinois over 13. Holy Cross
This is tempting, very tempting. If you're looking for a 13 over a 4, here's a candidate. No easy basket will be scored. Neither team is cracking 60 – which means the Crusaders might have a chance.
6. Duke over 11. VCU
Imagine being a first-year coach, going up against Coach K in your NCAA tournament debut. That's the challenge awaiting VCU's Anthony Grant.
3. Pittsburgh over 14. Wright State
It was a magical season at Wright State, where a late offseason coaching change and a late-season rally led to the NCAA tournament. But it all comes to an end against the Panthers.
10. Gonzaga over 7. Indiana
Look at all the bluebloods in this regional. Kansas. Kentucky. Indiana. Duke. UCLA. Gonzaga? The Zags, still nouveau riche, remain dangerous even without Adam Morrison.
2. UCLA over 15. Weber State
Ben Howland vs. his alma mater? The pride of the Class of '79 went on to much bigger and better things, which is most unfortunate for his old school.
1. Kansas over 9. Villanova
The Jayhawks get a view of the second round for the first time in three years … and like it.
12. Illinois over 4. Southern Illinois
That old NCAA tournament humor rises up again, as Bruce Weber must coach against the school he left four years ago. Winning will be mandatory.
6. Duke over 3. Pitt
The mentor-vs.-understudy matchup that everyone is anticipating – Pitt's Jamie Dixon vs. UCLA's Howland, in the West Regional semifinals – falls through when the Blue Devils knock off the Panthers.
2. UCLA over 10. Gonzaga
A rematch of last season's regional semifinal. This time, there'll be no signs of utter shock from Morrison, who's now a Charlotte Bobcat, or from anyone else. The Bruins lead from start to finish.
1. Kansas over 12. Illinois
This regional's just full of potential angles, and none is juicier than when Self is forced to coach against the school he left three years ago, stubbing some Illini toes along the way.
6. Duke over 2. UCLA
CBS can sell the hell out of that old "front of the jersey" angle on this one, and the network can't go wrong no matter who wins.
1. Kansas over 6. Duke
The bluebloods' regional ends with two of history's biggest. Fittingly, the winning school plays its home games in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Naismith Drive.
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Updated on Monday, Mar 12, 2007 6:01 am, EDT
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