Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three Intriguing First Round Games (Thursday Ed.)

Here are three games to keep an eye on today:

(#3) Xavier v. (#14) UGA.
The Dogs, fresh off the remarkable win in the SEC Tourney, are the low-ranked 'BCS' conference ever (at least since the field of 64/5 was established in 1985.) They are hot and confident, and are considerable more 'athletic' than your typical 14-seed (cf. Boise State, Cornell, and Cal-State Fullerton). Xavier meanwhile, after a strong regular season, lost twice in the last two weeks to St. Joseph's (helping the Hawks earn a bid); while the X-men are balanced (6 players average in double figures), who will be the go-to guy in crunch time?

(#10) Arizona v. (#7) West Virginia.
Arizona is widely seen as the 'last team in' because of their 0-2 record against in-state rival Arizona State, and losing record (8-10) in the (admittedly strong) PAC-10. There's no doubt who WVU looks to at crunch-time: 6-8 F Joe Alexander, who led the Mountaineers in scoring and rebounding.

(#6) USC v. (#11) K-State.
Although OJ Mayo appeared on the college scene to much fan-fare and chagrin, his freshman season has been overshadowed by other freshman (including cross-town rival UCLA's Kevin Love.) While Mayo turned in 20.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, and 4.6 rpg, the Tournament is 'Go-Time." On the K-State side, freshman Michael Beasley (26.5 ppg/12.4 rpg) is one of the reasons that Mayo's season has been quiet. But doubts remain about the Wildcats' depth and coaching.

Bonus Level of Intrigue:
(#5) ND v. (#12) George Mason.
Question: Can the Patriots recapture the magic?

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