I’m jumping my usual post day by about twelve hours just so I can remind you that you can still sign up for the Ladies… Bracket Brawl right up until tipoff Thursday (12:15 EST). Just click the link and enter the password: ladiesdotdotdot.
In the meantime, here’s a quick visual guide to some of the teams and storylines that will be occupying your TV over the next four days (at least).
Uh, that’s Duke over there. I miss that period when they flamed out in the early rounds every year. Kyle Singler (#12) is the latest in the Duke mold of Awesome Collegiate Players With No Real Chance At A Pro Career.
UConn comes into the tournament fresh off winning the Big East tourney despite not receiving a bye (meaning they had to win 5 games in 5 days). Number 15 there is star Kemba Walker, whose impending awesomeness I totally called two years ago. Are the Huskies on an unstoppable roll? Or will their legs fall off by the end of the first weekend?
(Also pictured: Jeremy Lamb (3), Charles Okwandu (35), Roscoe Smith (22))
Also out of the Big East (they got a record breaking eleven teams in, so be prepared to hear a lot about the conference as a whole this weekend), St. John’s makes its return to the tourney after a nine year absence. Also returning after a nine year absence– their coach, Steve Lavin, who was last seen on a tourney sideline coaching UCLA. Pictured here: Malik Stith (31) and Camerons Edison (35).
It sounds strange to call a team that went 32-2 and earned a 2 seed an underdog, but in many respects the San Diego State Aztecs are just that. The Aztecs have never won an NCAA tourney game in 6 previous trips, and as the star of the Mountain West Conference, they carry the burden of all “over-achieving” mid-major schools: lose and it’s further “proof” that smaller schools can’t be part of the collegiate athletics elite, win and … the major conference supporters will still call you a fluke.
On the other hand, the Aztecs’ coach, Steve Fisher (as well as one of his assistant coaches), was the coach at Michigan during the Fab Five years. If you’ve seen ESPN’s Fab Five documentary (and if you haven’t you should), you’ll know he’s more than capable of getting players with little actual tourney experience to thrive on the big stage. Pictured here: seniors Malcolm Thomas (4), D.J. Gay (23), Billy White (32), and Tim Shelton (24 here, though he has apparently changed to 10 since this picture was taken).
Since my alma mater is busy looking for a coach for next season instead of playing games, I’m hopping on the San Diego State and St. John’s bandwagons. Who are you all rooting for?