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John Feinstein's Albuquerque Regional Analysis

The Wrong Huskies Are the Top Dog

Monday, March 14, 2005; Page G11

Okay, I admit it, I really don't understand how the committee thinks sometimes -- make that most of the time. Washington had an excellent season. It won the Pacific-10 tournament. But the committee makes Connecticut a No. 2 seed because it won the Big East regular season title and Syracuse, the tournament winner, a No. 4. Then it turns around and makes Washington, which lost its regular season finale to Stanford to finish second in the Pac-10, a No. 1 seed. I can understand a No. 2, but a No. 1? And what exactly did Little Ricky Pitino do to upset these guys? I'm the last guy to take up for Little Ricky, but there's no way the Cardinals are a No. 4.

That said, Washington as a No. 1 seed automatically makes this the most wide-open bracket going. The Huskies should handle the Montana Grizzlies (but would get crushed by the Griz in football) and will then have a handful with either Pacific or Pittsburgh.

Coach Rick Pitino, guard Brandon Jenkins and Louisville likely got a raw deal in the seeding, but they'll likely still advance and be waiting for the winner of George Washington vs. Georgia Tech. (Mark Humphrey -- AP)

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Okay, let's get the homer part of this morning's rants out of the way now: George Washington got hosed. Sure, the Atlantic 10 had a down year, but didn't Chairman Bob Bowlsby (or, as Jim Nantz called him, "Mr. Chairman") tell us that the committee took in the entire body of work in making judgments, not just conference play or the conference tournament? Okay, GW's entire body of work: wins over Michigan State (a No. 5 seed); Maryland (back when the Terrapins were still speaking to one another), a division title and a fairly easy victory in the conference tournament final. That gets you seeded behind every at-large team in the field? Behind Northern Iowa? Behind Iowa? To play a first-round game against a very hot Georgia Tech team that was one jump shot yesterday away from being a No. 4 seed? GW should have been at worst a No. 10 seed, probably more like a No. 8. If GW should somehow beat Tech, all it has to do is play Louisville, which I've said could have been a No. 1 seed. Karl Hobbs will be sending no bouquets to the committee. (Then again, the committee never sends me flowers either.)

Georgia Tech-Louisville could be the best second-round game in the tournament. The winner could reach the Final Four, especially because it is in the same half of the round of 16 bracket as Washington. In fact, let's take this a step further: The winner of that game will play in the regional final.

Wake Forest could go either way at this point in the season. If nothing else, Chris Paul will be rested and so will the team -- one game in 12 days. The Demon Deacons shouldn't have any trouble with Chattanooga, and I suspect they'll play Creighton in the second round.

The committee didn't do Gonzaga any favors with Winthrop in the first round, an experienced tournament team (five bids in six years) that believes it can win a first-round game. And if Gonzaga survives that game, it gets to play one of two hot teams: Texas Tech or UCLA. How UCLA is a No. 11 seed is a bit of a mystery but its game with Texas Tech might be the most intriguing matchup of the first round. Eleven years removed from his last round-of-16 game, Bob Knight has a shot this year. Question: If Gonzaga goes out early again this year, does Mark Few start to think he's maxed out at Gonzaga and think about entreaties from Virginia, should they be forthcoming? Just a thought.

Let's call the round-of-16 game on this side Texas Tech-Wake Forest just for fun. I still like the Louisville-Georgia Tech winner to make it to St. Louis. Then again, Knight in St. Louis would sure be fun. It was there in November 1975 that he and Indiana began its undefeated season . . . against UCLA.

Most likely first-round upset: Creighton over West Virginia.

Most over-seeded team: Washington.

Most under-seeded team: Louisville, Pacific (tie).

Best story likely not to get written: What's it like to be Winthrop?

Team that looks at this bracket and wants to scream: Notre Dame, which doubtless would have been in UCLA's spot had it not lost to the Bruins at home two weeks ago.

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