- Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com columnist
- 0 Shares
Here's what to love, and hate, during the first two rounds of this year's NCAA tournament:
Best matchup (teams): Temple vs. Cornell will set the stage for all of the Saturday-Sunday games. This game overrides everything the selection committee might have gotten wrong. Seth Greenberg (coach of Virginia Tech, the team most felt got robbed from being in the tournament) might even watch this one.
Best matchup (players): Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) vs. Aubrey Coleman (Houston) -- the best unknown superstar in the country goes up against the nation's leading scorer. It's this year's Steph Curry vs. Patty Mills from last year's NIT all over again.
Worst placement: Lehigh. Because we'll get only one chance to see C.J. McCollum play (he's the "other" best freshman in the country).
Best seeding: BYU. After two years of being ousted in the first round, the Cougars have a chance to finally win one game by playing a team (Florida) that lives and dies by jump shots. Unless Gators guard Kenny Boynton gets hot, BYU's recent NCAA tourney history should not repeat itself.
Team most likely you will fall in in love with (for only one weekend): Houston. The Cougars won the C-USA as the last seed. They have ballers. For one game they could be the NCAA counterpart to their inner-city companion, Yates High School, the No. 1 school in the country.
Team most likely to break your heart by weekend's end: Michigan State. For some reason -- maybe it's the fact that Kalin Lucas didn't dominate the Big Ten like we all expected -- this Tom Izzo squad doesn't seem like the team that made it to the final game last year. They don't even seem like the team that got beat in the second round a few years ago.
Worst team to sleep on: Northern Iowa. There are only five other teams in the country that lost four or fewer games. In a tournament where defense (yes, defense!) will determine winners, this team is one of the nation's best.
Worst region: West. Does anyone really have even a "Nets win the NBA championship" or a "LeBron to the Clippers" chance of beating Syracuse? Anybody?
The one player not named Evan Turner who can win a few games by himself: James Anderson (Oklahoma State). He has the total package, like Maggie Q. He's willing to go "by all means necessary" out to get a win. Or two. Or three.
Player you better pay attention to: Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia). Remember CDR a few years ago? He's him, only better.
Best name: Scoop Jardine. C'mon, what did you expect?
Best love/hate relationship between player and coach: John Calipari and DeMarcus Cousins. Just watch. They can go from George and Weezie to Jon and Kate in seconds.
Best show of favoritism: Duke. The selection committee gave the Blue Devils not only a regional and seed nod over Syracuse, but also the winner of the opening-round game. Conspiracy theorists and Duke haters all over the country are hatin' hard.
Worst "I Can't Figure Either One Of These Teams Out" 8/9 Game: Texas vs. Wake Forest. With the way both teams have played (i.e.: underachieving and falling apart) in the second half of the season, it's almost like "who cares" who wins?
Best Fans: New Mexico. Steve Alford has the Lobo contingency acting like they're all from Indiana and that basketball really means that much to them. Bananas. And they'll follow their team all the way to Indiana if that's what it takes.
Four teams we'll be talking about next week: Siena, San Diego State, UTEP and Baylor. Trust me. I'm like the black Joe Lunardi when it comes to this. Except I haven't filled out a bracket in three years. Maybe I should have mentioned that at the top.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.