The NCAA Tournament: One Man’s Bracket

By Tony McClean
Updated: March 16, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — No matter how much hype you get from either the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, or even the World Series, I’ve always felt that the first two days of the NCAA Tournament are two of the most exciting days in the yearly sports calendar.

Between the buzzer beaters, upsets, and heart stopping finishes, there’s absolutely nothing like it. Who can forget 15th seeded Hampton’s upset of No. 2 seeded Iowa State back in 2001 and the crazy celebration that followed.

What about Bryce Drew’s buzzer beater that gave Valpo it’s huge upset over Ole Miss in 1998? Remember a year later when Harold “The Show” Arceneaux and his buddies from Weber State upset Carolina?

We didn’t even mention Coppin State over South Carolina in 1997 or Princeton’s (Quick! Watch out for the back door screen!) near miss vs Georgetown in 1989 and their triumph over the defending champs of UCLA in 1996.

There are so many other images and memories that make up the best (and sometimes worst) of the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a capsule peek at one man’s bracket as the tournament begins in earnest on Thursday.

CHICAGO REGIONAL First round upsets: (11) UAB over (6) LSU; (10) Saint Mary’s past (7) Southern Illinois.

Dark horse candidate: UAB. The Blazers surprised many in last year tourney. They have enough to do again.

Last two teams standing: (1) Illinois over (2) Oklahoma State. Despite the tragedy, the Illini have arguably been the best team this season. But Eddie Sutton’s Cowboys will give them a legitimate scare in the final.

ALBUQUERQUE REGIONAL First round upsets: (14) Winthrop over (3) Gonzaga; (12) George Washington past (5) Georgia Tech.

Dark horse candidate: Winthrop. World, say hello to Torrell Martin (12.8 ppg) and James Shuler (12.0 ppg) Last two teams standing: (2) Wake Forest over (4) Louisville. The Cardinals will be spent after they knock off top seeded Washington in the Sweet 16.

SYRACUSE REGIONAL First round upsets: (12) New Mexico over (5) Villanova; (13) Ohio over (4) Florida.

Dark horse candidate: New Mexico. The Lobos will get to the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels will be waiting.

Last two teams standing: (2) UConn over (1) UNC. The Huskies get revenge from their February loss at Hartford.

AUSTIN REGIONAL First round upsets: (13) Vermont over (4) Syracuse; (12) Old Dominion past (5) Michigan State.

Dark horse candidate: Old Dominion. Before all is said and done, the Monarchs will pull off the stunner of the tournament.

Last two teams standing: (3) Oklahoma over (2) Kentucky. Just a hunch that Kelvin Sampson will have the Sooners ready to beat Tubby’s boys.

THE FINAL FOUR Semifinals: Illinois over Wake Forest; UConn over Oklahoma.

Title game: It may be a sentimental pick. But I think Illini’s guards will be able to overtake the defending champs in a close one. Illinois 69, UConn. 65.