Dreams and nightmares for 64 teams
The fourth annual dream and nightmare NCAA tournament scenarios for all 64 teams:
Best Case: Sam Young is making jumpers and slamming alley-oops. DeJuan Blair is scattering bodies in the paint. Levance Fields is caring for the ball like a newborn. Pitt shatters the Sweet 16 ceiling and doesn't stop there, rolling into Detroit and into the national championship game. Once there, the Panthers win the title, cutting down the nets in the same building where the Steelers won the Super Bowl a few years back. Pittsburgh becomes the only city in America that absolutely adores Detroit.
Worst Case: Taken out of the full-contact Big East and subjected to different officiating, Blair gets one foul in the layup line and a second on the jump ball. Pitt falls behind by 12 points at halftime, and its offense goes into a familiar NCAA shell. Jamie Dixon's brow furrows deeper. Panthers are out in the second round. Sweet 16 ceiling now made of reinforced titanium. Dixon leaves for Arizona.
|East Tennessee State (16)
Best Case: High-octane Buccaneers, who have averaged 89.4 points per game on their current five-game winning streak, run Pitt into the danger zone. Enough ETSU shots fall to keep the game high scoring and tight into the final four minutes. Coach Murry Bartow, cleverly hidden from view for years in Johnson City, is accorded renewed respect.
Worst Case: Bartow calls his first timeout three minutes into the game, and the bleeding never stops. Defense-optional Bucs give up 102 points to the Panthers. Blair goes for 20 and 20. Bartow returns to obscurity in Johnson City.
|Oklahoma State (8)
Best Case: James Anderson is making 3s and getting to the line. Byron Eaton is barging into the lane. The Committee, as Travis Ford calls his interior players, is holding its own. The pace is wreaking havoc. And the Cowboys are stunning Pittsburgh in the second round and Xavier in the third to force a regional showdown with Duke -- which they lose, but everyone loves the run. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is upset in the second round and T. Boone Pickens' stock portfolio takes a turn for the better.
Worst Case: Team that surrendered 94 to Michigan State, 98 to Baylor, 97 to Missouri and 99 to Texas waves at the Volunteers as they rush unimpeded to the basket as well. Tennessee scores in triple digits in a first-round whomping of the Cowboys, who lose five seniors and have Anderson turn pro as well. Oklahoma wins it all. Ford leaves after a year to replace Billy Gillispie at Kentucky. T. Boone's stocks continue to swoon.
Best Case: Volunteers share the ball and get better-than-usual guard play. Wayne Chism plays his headband off. Tyler Smith is all over the court. Scotty Hopson starts playing smarter. Orange-blazered Bruce Pearl is forcing the issue with full-court pressure. Tennessee is advancing to the regional final, carrying the drooping SEC banner and reminding everyone why the Vols were in the preseason top 10. Fans stop hugging each other over the Bryce Brown football signing and actually watch for a while. Over on the other side of the bracket, Memphis is taken down in the second round.
Worst Case: The occasionally selfish, guard-poor, half-hearted defensive team that lost five games to opponents that didn't make the NCAAs resurfaces against Oklahoma State. Proving Jodie Meeks' 54 was no fluke, Tennessee surrenders 55 to OSU's Anderson. Pearl coaches the second half shirtless to no avail. Fans go back to discussing whether Bryce Brown will win two or three Heisman Trophies. Memphis wins it all.
|Florida State (5)
Best Case: Totally stoked for their first NCAA appearance since 1998, Seminoles continue their ACC tournament roll by smashing Wisconsin and Xavier, then upset Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 and beat Duke for the first time since February 2007 in the regional final. They then crash the Final Four for the first time since 1972. Once there, the Noles beat North Carolina again and lose in the national title game to Louisville, but even Bobby Bowden shows up for the dadgum game after someone explains to him that this is a big deal. Toney Douglas earns himself some NBA cash along the way. Leonard Hamilton goes from iffy to coaching oracle.
Worst Case: Wisconsin has Florida State so well scouted, it's as if the Badgers were given the answers to a final exam. They shut down Douglas' creativity off the dribble and don't give him room to shoot from the perimeter, and the Seminoles are helpless without a heroic performance from their only double-digit-scoring performer. Hamilton goes back to being an iffy coach. Athletic department attempts to get some of his victories switched to Bowden's career records.
Best Case: Badgers throw the slow-down mojo at Florida State. They confuse Xavier with the swing offense. Marcus Landry scores in the paint, Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes score from the perimeter and Joe Krabbenhoft sets screens that take days to get around. The Badgers stroll unexpectedly into the Sweet 16 and give Pittsburgh fits before finally submitting in a 56-54 tussle. Big Ten fans pronounce the Badgers' run good for American values. Marquette loses in the first round.
Worst Case: Bo Ryan's lifetime streak of never beating a team seeded in the top half of the NCAA bracket continues when the Badgers are hosed by Florida State in the opening round. Lopsided loss calls into question the wisdom of giving a bid to a team that went 4-10 against the NCAA field, with exactly one of those wins away from home (at Michigan, Dec. 31). While Big Ten grieves, rest of the nation rejoices at the dismissal of unwatchable Wisconsin style. Marquette goes to the Elite Eight.
Best Case: Wearing warm-up shirts that say, "We Ain't No Stinkin' Mid-Major," Musketeers rediscover their pre-February mojo and blast through the bracket to the Final Four. They handle Portland State and Florida State, shoot the lights out to shock Pitt and then avenge a 2004 regional final loss to Duke. Somewhere, Romain Sato is smiling. Loss in Final Four to North Carolina is no shame. Big East, which clearly isn't tough enough, is so impressed it pulls a Catholic school switcheroo, dropping DePaul and adding Xavier. Sean Miller signs another contract extension.
Worst Case: Xavier team that refuses to be called a mid-major loses to a mid-major, upset in Round 1 by Portland State after traveling west into a geographically disadvantageous draw. Musketeers team that wobbled to a 5-5 finish once again cannot close out a close game, losing its last four decided by five points or less. Miller hops the first thing smokin' out of Boise to take the Virginia job.
|Portland State (13)
Best Case: Jeremiah Dominguez, all 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds of him, becomes the cherished cherub of March when he leads the Vikings to the Sweet 16. The dangerous squad that upset Gonzaga and brings a six-game winning streak into the Dance stuns Xavier in the first round and then gets past No. 12 seed Wisconsin in Round 2. The Vikings are blasted in Beantown by Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16, but who cares?
Worst Case: Dominguez and his undersized teammates realize this isn't the Big Sky Conference anymore when athletic Xavier starts dropping alley-oop slams on their heads. Vikings are posted up, pounded down and picked apart in a game that's over by halftime. But at least it's a short trip home.
Best Case: Experienced Bruins find their tournament swagger at just the right time. Not even being shipped three time zones away to play a succession of teams closer to home can deter UCLA's defense from handcuffing VCU guard Eric Maynor, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds and Duke wing Gerald Henderson. Bruins lose in the regional final to Ben Howland's old team, Pittsburgh, but that's a positive: It keeps them from being blown out in a fourth straight Final Four. Meanwhile, USC goes down in the first round.
Worst Case: UCLA team that is nowhere near as good as the previous three editions is inconvenienced by trip to Philadelphia, and even more inconvenienced by the athletic presence of VCU guard Maynor and center Larry Sanders. Bruins struggle to score inside and are dismissed in a single game, then watch USC unexpectedly vault into the second round. Despite a moderately underwhelming freshman season, guard Jrue Holiday goes pro.
|Virginia Commonwealth (11)
Best Case: Guard Maynor tries on the Steph Curry Superman cape and finds out it fits for two games. Maynor lights up UCLA and Villanova before running out of gas against the team he eliminated two years ago, Duke. After taking the Rams to the Sweet 16, coach Anthony Grant says no to multiple job offers and signs a new contract to stay put.
Worst Case: Maynor cannot get untracked against sticky Bruins defense, and a team that was 6-6 in games decided by five points or less can't make the winning plays at crunch time against an experienced March opponent. Anthony Grant vacates Richmond within 12 hours of the Rams' return to town after a first-round ouster.
Best Case: Under-the-radar Big East power flexes its muscles, pounding American and VCU while taking advantage of absurdly friendly Philadelphia draw. The Wildcats wear down Duke and then beat Pitt for the second time this season to reach their first Final Four since winning the whole thing with the Perfect Game in 1985. Dante Cunningham finishes off NBA audition by averaging 20 and 10 on the way to Detroit, where Jay Wright looks flawless as the Wildcats beat North Carolina and then lose to Louisville for the third time this season in the final.
Worst Case: Nova is slowed down and taken out in the second round by UCLA, but that's only the beginning. Turns out Wright was doing his own NBA audition and takes a job in The Association. Guard Reynolds bugs out after his junior season for the pros as well. Rollie Massimino agitates to get his old job back. Even worse, so does Steve Lappas.
Best Case: Deliberate, veteran team that has lost only once since Christmas refuses to rattle while playing Villanova in its hometown. Eagles ride the poise and mettle of point guard and Patriot League Player of the Year Derrick Mercer into the final minute against the Wildcats before falling.
Worst Case: American team that averaged just 51 points per game in three meetings (all losses) with teams from BCS conferences runs into similar brick wall against Villanova. Eagles score 16 points in the first half, 45 in the game and lose by 20.
Best Case: Longhorns find some long-missing consistency. Forward Connor Atchley relocates his game. Dogus Balbay pushes the tempo. A.J. Abrams bombs away. The big men flex. Horns hook their way to the regional final before losing to Pittsburgh.
Worst Case: Team that hasn't won more than three in a row since the first half of December isn't going on any run now. Longhorns were just 7-7 down the stretch. They can't exploit Tubby Smith's tight defense and are taken down by the Gophers in the first round, their earliest exit from the NCAAs in four years. Texas A&M goes on unexpected run to the Sweet 16.
Best Case: Tubby Smith has won 11 straight first-round games and that streak isn't going to stop now. With the customary TubbyBall defense, Gophers beat Texas and then shock Duke in the second round behind a big performance by freshman center Ralph Sampson III. Guard Lawrence Westbrook plays with improved decision-making. Smith turns down other jobs offers to stay in the Twin Cities.
Worst Case: Tubby's streak is toast. Gophers, who have won only four of their past 11 games, look like a team that's finished shortly after the opening tip, falling behind Texas by double digits and never threatening to win. Westbrook commits seven turnovers and shoots 4-for-15. Tired of shoveling snow, Tubby jets for Virginia or Georgia.
Best Case: Mike Krzyzewski signs 12 new endorsement deals after capping off a pretty solid nine months with a gold medal and national title. Jon Scheyer, the third starting point guard of the season, sure-handedly pilots the Blue Devils past three teams to reach a regional final against Pittsburgh. Gerald Henderson outleaps Sam Young to send Duke to the Final Four, where it finds Syracuse instead of archrival North Carolina -- the Tar Heels lost when Tyler Hansbrough was called for traveling on the potential winning shot. Devils beat Orange, then take down Louisville in payback for 1986 title loss. Duke wins final over Rick Pitino with three-quarter-court pass and game-winning turnaround jumper by Kyle Singler.
Worst Case: Corporate sponsors gets a new pitchman after Devils lose to Texas in the second round, their fifth straight NCAA tournament of failing to live up to their seed. Greg Paulus gets dunked on by Damion James and Duke gets pushed around inside. Krzyzewski says he loves his kids, but later attempts to get loss charged to assistant coach Chris Collins' record. Carolina wins it all when Hansbrough makes hook shot after changing pivot foot three times. Henderson and Singler go pro.
Best Case: Bearcats celebrate their first NCAA appearance by not fainting dead away against Duke. They stay in the game long enough that alum Tony Kornheiser writes a fat donation check at halftime, but the bandwagon breaks down in the final eight minutes. Guard D.J. Rivera, blackballed for postseason America East awards, makes an impression. Top-spinning announcers don't even mention recent New York Times story suggesting the school has sold its integrity for basketball glory.
Worst Case: Team that hasn't faced an NCAA tournament squad all season doesn't like the looks of this one and is overrun by Duke's pressure defense and transition offense. Pro-Duke crowd in Greensboro (shocking to see Duke playing in North Carolina) professes mock sympathy for Bearcats as the lead spirals. America East coaches all exchange celebratory text messages over the demise of their nemesis.
Best Case: National champions. Terrence Williams throws triple-doubles at opponents, Earl Clark gets his 6-foot-10 self inside and dominates, the Cardinals' guard quartet hits shots and their defense suffocates all comers. Louisville wins tournament games fast, scoring in the 90s, and Louisville wins tournament games slow, scoring in the 60s. Cardinals shoot 80 percent from the line and ice the championship win over North Carolina with two free throws by Williams. Rick Pitino, already the first coach to take three schools to the Final Four, becomes the first coach to win national titles at two different locales -- and also the first to do it wearing a white suit. Then he ignores overtures from Arizona and coaches Louisville in its new arena in 2010-11. Meanwhile, Kentucky fans watch Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson turn pro.
Worst Case: Two and out. In a semi-road game against Ohio State in Dayton, mercurial guard Edgar Sosa and Clark combine to make 2 of 17 shots and commit 10 turnovers. Louisville hoists too many errant 3s and not enough 2s, but still leads until contracting Memphis disease and bricking a barrage of free throws late. Cardinals are expunged in the second round. Pitino leaves for Arizona. Billy Donovan has a 2-year-old change of heart and comes to Kentucky, convincing Meeks and Patterson to stay.
|Morehead State (16)
Best Case: Coach's daughter continues to charm America. Kenneth Faried's ponytail is the most impressive in the tournament. And a few people learn that Morehead is a town in rural Kentucky before the Eagles are swept aside in the second half against Louisville, which starts slowly due to overconfidence after beating Morehead by 38 in November.
Worst Case: Louisville is not overconfident. Faried's ponytail gets messy while being shoved around inside by Louisville's rotation of big men. Nobody bothers to find out where Morehead is after the Eagles are buried in a 20-4 start by the Cardinals. But the coach's daughter is still cute.
|Ohio State (8)
Best Case: Final Four. With a wink-wink, nudge-nudge site assignment in Dayton for athletic director/selection committee member Gene Smith, the eighth-seeded Buckeyes slow down Siena and shock Louisville in the second round as Evan Turner out-everythings Terrence Williams. In the Sweet 16, B.J. Mullens comes to play against fellow hyped freshman Al-Farouq Aminu, and Ohio State is into the regional final, where it upsets Michigan State in Indianapolis for the second time in two weeks. Detroit, here they come -- and Michigan fans have to suck it up and take it.
Worst Case: First-round loss. Shocked by the push-the-ball tempo of Siena, the Buckeyes of the s-l-o-w Big Ten are beaten in transition all game. Shaky point-guard play is exposed. Fatigued from the up-and-down pace, Mullens does not rebound or defend. Ohio State is eliminated from the tournament Friday night. Mullens and Turner go pro. And the SEC's best still can beat the daylights out of Ohio State in football.
Best Case: The 16th-fastest team in the country (according to Ken Pomeroy's figures) shoves the ball down Ohio State's throat in an upset. Then the team that won 16 of its last 18 shocks Louisville with hot shooting by Kenny Hasbrouck and steady ballhandling by Ronald Moore against the Cardinals' pressure. Saints are greeted by Arizona in a bracket-collapse Sweet 16 game. After winning that, the joyride ends with a regional final loss to Kansas. Casual fans take the time to find out where Siena is.
Worst Case: One and done. Siena's matador defense is a welcome change from the Big Ten for the Buckeyes, resulting in easy layups. Team that beat nobody better than 49th in the final RPI is overmatched against Ohio State and loses by 15. Nobody gets around to learning where Siena is.
Best Case: Sweet 16. After a motivational speech by Sugar Bowl-winning football coach Kyle Whittingham, Utah roars out of Rocky Mountain obscurity and into the Sweet 16. Luke Nevill, the 7-foot Aussie from Perth, outplays Arizona center Jordan Hill in the opening round and Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu in the second. Nation's No. 9 RPI team, owning victories over Gonzaga and LSU (by 30), showcases its depth. Jim Boylen's coaching stock skyrockets, but he only wants to stay in Salt Lake City. BYU and Utah State lose early.
Worst Case: First-round defeat. Sugar shocker does not translate from football to basketball. Utah team that won zero significant true road games finds itself at an athletic disadvantage against Arizona and is shot out of Miami by Hill, Chase Budinger and Nic Wise. BYU and Utah State both advance farther.
Best Case: Sweet 16. After squeezing in by the hairs on Chase Budinger's chin, Wildcats make the most of 25th consecutive bid by upsetting Utah and Wake Forest. Wildcats lose in Sweet 16 to Louisville, but AD Jim Livengood uses the occasion to convince Rick Pitino to take his open job after the season. Jordan Hill is so excited he comes back for his senior year. Lute Olson fades into the desert scenery and stays there. Arizona State is bounced in the first round.
Worst Case: First-round knockout. With Wildcats down 10 at the first TV timeout against Utah, Olson comes out of the stands and pushes interim coach Russ Pennell out of the huddle to take over coaching. Team that went 2-9 in true road games reacts accordingly and is hopelessly beaten by halftime. Arizona State embarks upon Final Four run, and every big-name coach turns down Livengood's offer. He decides to keep Pennell -- and you know how those interim-coach promotions turn out. Hill turns pro.
|Wake Forest (4)
Best Case: Final Four. Team that beat Duke and North Carolina runs, jumps and flexes its way past Cleveland State and Utah. Then comes the upset of Louisville in Indy: Al-Farouq Aminu plays like a lottery pick, Jeff Teague hits shots, James Johnson continues his scoring spree, Ish Smith stirs it up. Dino Gaudio demands great defense and gets it. After that Demon Deacons handle Kansas to win region and go where Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Rodney Rogers and others never went: to the last weekend of the season. Skip Prosser's family arrives as invited guests.
Worst Case: Gone in 40 minutes. Young, inconsistent team that lost to Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech plays down to the level of its opponent and is stunned by Cleveland State. Rookie tournament head coach Gaudio is outflanked by Gary Waters. Sketchy 3-point shooting dooms Deacons -- though perhaps also spares the school from a third NCAA blowout at the hands of a Rick Pitino-coached team (see: 34-point loss to Kentucky in 1993; 20-point loss to Kentucky in '96). Three underclassmen turn pro.
|Cleveland State (13)
Best Case: Sweet 16. Twenty-three years after the Vikings' greatest athletic moment, J'Nathan Bullock channels Mouse McFadden and Gary Waters channels Kevin Mackey (minus the drug issues). Cleveland State pulls two shockers -- beating Wake Forest and Utah -- just as it did in 1986. No need for banked-in game winners from beyond half court like at Syracuse; the Vikings win twice straight up before falling to No. 1 Louisville. If you don't think it can happen again, consider this: The Vikings have a better seed this time (13) than they did that time (14).
Worst Case: One and done. Team that counts losses to Youngstown State (No. 239 RPI), Wichita State (No. 158) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (No. 134) among its 10 defeats watches Wake drop repeated dunks on its head. Game is way too fast for Cleveland State, and the result is inevitable way too quickly as well. It's over by halftime.
|West Virginia (6)
Best Case: Final Four. Mountaineers overcome hideous Bob Huggins wardrobe to become the surprise team of March, charging to Detroit behind blossoming freshman forward Devin Ebanks. Team toughened by 11 games against the RPI top 50 dispatches Dayton with ease, upsets Kansas in the second round, does the same to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 and then finally gets over on Louisville after two competitive losses during the regular season. Meanwhile, Pitt loses early and Rich Rodriguez comes down with the flu in Ann Arbor.
Worst Case: Traumatized by the sight of Huggins in a yellow jumpsuit and dark blue beret, Mountaineers revert to flighty offensive days past and struggle to score against the Flyers. They lose in the first round, Huggins gets run for two technical fouls and the Mountaineer is arrested for discharging his firearm in the arena in Minneapolis. Ebanks turns pro after the loss. Meanwhile, Pitt makes the Final Four, and Rodriguez has a great spring practice in Ann Arbor.
Best Case: Team that went 12-1 in games decided by six points or less finds a way to win two more white-knucklers, upsetting West Virginia and dethroning Kansas on last-second shots by Chris Wright. Brian Gregory takes mentor Tom Izzo and former employer Michigan State to the wire before losing in Sweet 16. People in Dayton finally quit pining for the glory days of Don Donoher. Xavier is upset early.
Worst Case: The Flyers, who finished the season 5-5, clang free throws and fail to handle West Virginia on the glass in the opening round and are quickly ushered out. Team that lost five games by double digits makes it a sixth. Dayton fans go back to reliving the glory days of Don Donoher and wondering why it can't be like that anymore. Xavier makes Final Four, says it is too good for the rest of the A-10.
Best Case: Winning begets winning, and the Jayhawks don't need no Mario to repeat as champions. Cole Aldrich dominates inside to defeat Michigan State and Louisville and reach the Final Four. Once there, Sherron Collins hits buzzer-beating 3 to tie Memphis after the Tigers miss free throws, fail to call a timeout and fail to foul Collins before the shot. After dispatching Memphis, Kansas draws North Carolina in the title game. Ol' Roy is still puckered from last year, and the Jayhawks win it all again. School bumps Phog Allen's name off the Fieldhouse and calls it the Self Center. Missouri loses early, and Mike Anderson leaves for Alabama.
Worst Case: Bison Bummer II. Jayhawks sleepwalk into early tip-off and are stunned in the first round by North Dakota State on a hook shot by whichever player most closely resembles Chris McNaughton, the kid from the other Bison (Bucknell) who eliminated Kansas in 2005. Understanding Kansas fans shove Bill Self back onto the hot seat a year removed from winning it all. Missouri makes the Final Four and signs Anderson to 10-year contract. Aldrich and Collins turn pro.
|North Dakota State (14)
Best Case: After hordes (well, some) Bison fans pour across the Red River and descend upon Minneapolis for a semi-home game, they're treated to an epic upset of Kansas on a 25-foot 3-pointer by Ben Woodside. Gov. John Hoeven hails this as the greatest sporting moment in state history, non-ice hockey division. With a 1-0 all-time NCAA tournament record, team doesn't even bother with second-round game against West Virginia. Goes shopping at Mall of America instead.
Worst Case: Kansas shows the Bison exactly how vast the difference is between the Big 12 and the Summit, rolling to a 20-4 lead. NDSU squad that went 0-3 against teams in the field of 65 turns the ball over repeatedly, gets in foul trouble, cannot get open looks for Woodside and loses by 30. Meanwhile, North Dakota goes on a run to win national hockey championship.
|Boston College (7)
Best Case: Tyrese Rice goes Chris Paul on USC, scoring 30 points and dishing out 11 assists, while Joe Trapani does the inside damage. Then the ACC-toughened Eagles take down Michigan State in the second round before losing to Kansas in the Sweet 16. Hoops world wonders once again why it never gives Al Skinner enough respect as a coach. AD Gene DeFilippo decides to hire Skinner as football offensive coordinator as well.
Worst Case: Eagles, whose only two wins away from home in the past 50 days were against lowly Virginia, don't acclimate well to Minneapolis. Tyrese Rice goes RuPaul on USC, enduring his seventh straight sub-50 percent shooting game. Trapani is outplayed by Taj Gibson. Skinner remains just another coach with a losing career NCAA tournament record (7-8).
Best Case: Trojans continue their startling Pac-10 tournament roll behind freshman DeMar DeRozan. They throw some Tim Floyd defensive mojo at Boston College, which cannot handle it. Then the Trojans shock Michigan State and scare Kansas in the Sweet 16 before submitting and allowing their fans to return to worrying about who replaces Mark Sanchez at quarterback. DeRozan decides to play a second year of college ball. UCLA is roasted by VCU.
Worst Case: Bickering USC team that lost six of seven in February reappears at just the wrong time. Daniel Hackett and his dad, assistant strength coach Rudy, have another argument in Italian -- this during an in-game huddle. DeRozan shoots 2-for-11. Nobody else steps up. Trojans are bum-rushed by BC in the first round. UCLA goes to the Final Four again.
|Michigan State (2)
Best Case: Augmenting the Tom Izzo staples of rebounding and defense with a faster pace, the Spartans handle all comers in the Midwest Regional. Then, in front of a euphoric home crowd at Ford Field, Sparty parties after beating Memphis and North Carolina to win the championship. Inspired auto industry commences robust turnaround. Detroit economy perks up. Blight takes the rest of April off. Lions even catch the spirit, pledge not to blow the draft. Izzo bypasses interest from Arizona, signs lifetime contract.
Worst Case: Spartans team that has never reached its potential in a season plagued by injury and illness is upset in Round 2 by athletic USC. Raymar Morgan continues to struggle back from health issues, Kalin Lucas misses shots, and the bench cannot make the usual contribution. Auto industry stays in the tank. Detroit sags, and boards up a few more windows. Lions select another receiver. Izzo trades in his snow boots for flip-flops, takes Arizona job.
|Robert Morris (15)
Best Case: Team that has gone 18-3 in '09 plays smart, fearless, deliberate basketball against bigger-stronger-faster Michigan State. Colonials stay in it all the way past halftime. Last 16 minutes are another matter.
Worst Case: Colonials go 5 minutes and 38 seconds without scoring and trail 14-0. It never gets any closer, as the Northeast Conference champion loses in the first round (as opposed to the play-in game) for the 25th year in a row. Adding insult to injury, broadcast team repeatedly calls school Philip Morris.
|North Carolina (1)
Best Case: Ty Lawson's troublesome toe stops throbbing. Opponents start sobbing. Tar Heels bend their knees and play defense for 40 minutes. Then they do it again. And again. And again. That's four times against a weak region, resulting in a Final Four berth. Then they do it again. And again. That's six times, and that equals a national championship. Tyler Hansbrough ties title game against Memphis by scoring while being knocked down an NCAA-record 2,360th time, then wins it on a free throw with no time left. Ol' Roy is classy in victory again, chasing down John Calipari to console him as he did Bruce Weber in 2005. Duke loses to Texas.
Worst Case: Lawson's troublesome toe never fully recovers, and neither do the Heels. They're beaten in the Sweet 16 by Gonzaga, the only team in the region with the talent to trade open shots with Carolina and win. Hansbrough gets no calls after jumping into Gonzaga players an NCAA-record 26 times in a single game. Ol' Roy overuses his bench, gets uptight, loses and gets misty-eyed postgame. Says he's gonna frickin' miss these guys, but does not ramble incoherently the way he did after Kansas loss last year. Because he really won't miss their frickin' lax defense. Duke wins it all.
Best Case: Armed with a game plan from little brother Seth at Virginia Tech, Highlanders coach Brad Greenberg keeps North Carolina nervous well into the second half before submitting in the closest of the four 1-16 games. Fans can at least drive to Greensboro for the game. Center Art Parakhouski, a 6-foot-11 tower of Belarusian power, hangs with Carolina's big men and impresses NBA scouts -- but decides to return for his senior season. Radford becomes new Big South power, filling vacuum left by the demise of Winthrop.
Worst Case: Fans wish they hadn't driven to Greensboro for the game. Team that gave up 80 or more points 12 times barely gets in the way of the Carolina fast break, surrendering 62 points in the first half and 114 for the game. Parakhouski is run off his feet chasing the Carolina big men down the floor. Greenberg gets another job. Someone else fills the Winthrop vacuum.
Best Case: Team that blitzed to the SEC regular-season title shows up in Greensboro, flush with poise and experience. Marcus Thornton hits shots, Tasmin Mitchell is a matchup problem and Collis Temple III plays junkyard-dog defense as the Tigers wallop Butler and lose a close one to North Carolina. LSU brass congratulates itself on hiring Trent Johnson away from Stanford, signs him to extension. Mitchell comes back for senior year. Other two SEC schools both win first-round games as well, staving off spring football talk another day.
Worst Case: Famously angry Johnson reprises his NCAA meltdown of last year and gets tossed from close game against Butler. Bulldogs respond by making technical free throws and win at the end. LSU completes late-season tailspin, losing for the third time in its last five games. Mitchell goes pro, and the SEC goes 0-3 in first-round games. Johnson reconsiders career move after seeing NCAA results dwarfed by LSU baseball and spring football.
Best Case: Preposterously young Bulldogs (three freshmen in the starting lineup) play beyond their years, slow down LSU and win a tight tussle, 61-59. Freshman Gordon Hayward makes game-winning 3 at the buzzer. Comically young-looking coach Brad Stevens wows announcing crew by spending most of witheringly tense game with arms folded, face blank. Butler nearly pulls off double against North Carolina in the second round but loses late. Bulldogs positioned for top-10 season next year and possible Final Four run in 2011.
Worst Case: Preposterously young Bulldogs wet the bed against experienced LSU, finding themselves at a quickness deficit and being beaten on the glass. With a 12:20 ET tip-off Thursday, Butler is the first team eliminated from the Dance. Sometime thereafter, Stevens follows predecessors Barry Collier, Thad Matta and Todd Lickliter out the door to a bigger job. Potential '11 Final Four team splinters.
Best Case: Refusing to be kept out of his final NCAA tournament, guard Chester Frazier ignores his broken right hand and plays anyway, teaching himself to shoot left-handed. Frazier declares Chuck Norris a wuss, then leads the Illini past Western Kentucky and Gonzaga into the 16. Bruce Weber is once again hailed as a great coach instead of the lunkhead who whiffed on Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose. Meanwhile, Bruce Pearl and Tennessee lose by 36 to Oklahoma State.
Worst Case: In a stunning development that Illinois just might have known all along, Frazier's season is done. He cannot play against Western Kentucky, which takes advantage of the defensive stopper's absence to shoot the Illini out of the tournament. Weber is hammered anew for not bringing in enough good players.
|Western Kentucky (12)
Best Case: Ty Rogers isn't walking through that door, but Orlando Mendez-Valdez is. The senior and Sun Belt POY knocks down the winning 3 to beat Illinois in Portland. That sets up a Western-Gonzaga second-round game, which the Hilltoppers also win in an upset. WKU gets to a third Sweet 16 under a third different coach in the past 16 years. First-year boss Ken McDonald, who isn't big on suit coats, wears impeccably pressed white shirts.
Worst Case: Even without the injured Frazier, Illinois illustrates to Western what big-time defense is truly like. Hilltoppers fail to get decent 3-point shots and fall behind 36-20 at halftime. There is no rally. McDonald sweats through pressed white shirt, panicking in first NCAA tournament game as a head coach. Big Red, the ambiguous/amorphous/androgynous blob mascot, gets run over on the sideline.
Best Case: Mark Few's lavish assemblage of talent continues to play like the team that has gone 18-1 in 2009, blitzing Akron and Illinois behind newly urgent Micah Downs. In the Sweet 16, the Zags put it all together offensively and get just enough stops and rebounds to stun North Carolina. From there they beat Syracuse in the regional final and advance to the first Final Four in school history, where even a loss to Pittsburgh cannot lessen the euphoria. Few turns down Arizona, and underclassmen Austin Daye, Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray all stick around.
Worst Case: Talent continues to not quite equal the sum of its parts, as a group that lost five of its last six against NCAA tournament teams backs down in the face of a second-round challenge from Illinois. Fast December start is never rediscovered. Zags face backlash after steadily transforming over the past decade from gritty overachiever darling to annual NCAA sucker pick. Few bolts for Arizona. At least one player turns pro early.
Best Case: Program making its first NCAA appearance since Bob Huggins was the coach in the mid-80s rises to the occasion, frustrating Gonzaga with solid defense that slows down the Zags. Akron team that showed its toughness by winning four games in four days in the MAC tournament turns back every Gonzaga challenge and scores one of the biggest upsets of the first round. Local product of some renown, LeBron James, texts congratulations to the Zips.
Worst Case: MAC weakness is evident when the Zips are zapped by the Zags from the opening tip. Unable to compete with Gonzaga's firepower, Akron struggles to score and is down 15 at halftime and 20 at the first media timeout of the second half. LeBron forgets to tune in. Then it's a long trip back home from Portland.
|Arizona State (6)
Best Case: Sun Devils team whose past six victories all are over NCAA tournament teams shows up on the other side of the country focused for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003, and just its fourth since 1981. James Harden puts on a multifaceted pro audition. Jeff Pendergraph scores inside and out. Herb Sendek shows North Carolina State fans one more time what they're missing as ASU crashes the Elite Eight before losing to North Carolina. Arizona, also in Miami, loses its first game.
Worst Case: Eleven fans travel from Tempe to Miami to support the Sun Devils, who continue the late struggles that led to a 3-4 record over their last seven games. Harden misses shots in volume and nobody else steps up, as ASU is bum-rushed by 11th-seeded Temple in the first round. Arizona wins two in Miami and becomes the darling of the tournament.
Best Case: Owls continue the roll that won the Atlantic 10 tournament championship by upsetting struggling Arizona State in the first round and heavy-legged Syracuse in the second. Dionte Christmas becomes the talk of the first weekend, stroking 3s and getting to the foul line. Coach Fran Dunphy's push-broom mustache inexplicably becomes trendy. Villanova is ousted early.
Worst Case: Dunphy drops to 1-11 in NCAA tournament play in a blowout loss to Arizona State -- part of a three-team Atlantic 10 implosion. Mustache approval rating dips to new low. Christmas is canceled by Sun Devils defense, as he shoots 4-for-17 from the field. Meanwhile, Big Five rival Villanova embarks upon Final Four run.
Best Case: Given six days and a trip to Miami to recuperate from the absurdity of the Big East tournament, the Orange sustain the mojo without the fatigue. Jonny Flynn resumes slicing defenses. Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins resume cashing 3s -- and, in Devendorf's case, the occasional 60-footer. Paul Harris looks like Tarzan and actually plays like Tarzan for longer than one game at a time. Cuse slips into the Final Four. Jim Boeheim smiles. It stops snowing back home.
Worst Case: Spring blizzard hits, Boeheim frowns, mentally fried Syracuse is beaten in the first round by underappreciated Stephen F. Austin. Orange players are left trying to explain how you beat UConn and West Virginia in seven overtimes over the course of two days, but cannot beat the Lumberjacks of the Southland Conference. Flynn and Devendorf turn pro. Harris gives up basketball to become a strong safety.
|Stephen F. Austin (14)
Best Case: The "F." stands for Fruition. After 50 victories over the past two seasons, the Lumberjacks validate their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance by stunning a sleepwalking Syracuse. They control tempo, deter Flynn's forays into the lane, get a hand up on the Orange's shooters and ride senior center Matt Kingsley into the second round. SFA is SOL there against Arizona State, but who really cares?
Worst Case: The "F." stands for Flop. Lumberjacks arrive in Miami and see things you don't find every day in Nacogdoches, Texas. Suitably unfocused, SFA doesn't react well to the 12:15 ET Friday afternoon tip-off and is run out of South Florida. By nightfall, the "F." stands for Forgotten. Nobody even remembers the Lumberjacks were in the tournament.
Best Case: Inscrutable Tigers finally level out and play with some late-season consistency -- pressuring Michigan into defeat, swarming Blake Griffin in an upset of Oklahoma and taking care of Syracuse to reach the regional final before losing to nemesis North Carolina. Trevor Booker inside and the combo of K.C Rivers and Terrence Oglesby outside give Oliver Purnell the offensive balance needed to make one of the best runs in school history.
Worst Case: Team that lost six of its last 10 -- three of them to teams not in the NCAA field -- continues that Clemson trademark: the weak finish. Tigers are frustrated by Michigan's unorthodox style and lose handily, returning conversation to Dabo Swinney and overhyping the football team once again.
Best Case: John Beilein rolls up his sleeves one more time and takes the Wolverines to the regional final, well ahead of schedule and expectation. With Manny Harris outside and DeShawn Sims inside, Michigan has enough balance to defeat Clemson, surprise Oklahoma and defeat Syracuse. The Wolverines max out in the Elite Eight by losing to North Carolina -- this time not on a called timeout they didn't have. Meanwhile, Ohio State and Michigan State both lose early.
Worst Case: Harris and Sims are talented but easily frustrated. Combine that with a lack of supporting talent, and Michigan is in for a long game against Clemson's chaos-inducing defense. Wolverines are dismissed in the first round, and their first NCAA victory since 1998 is delayed another year. Meanwhile, Ohio State upsets Louisville and Michigan State makes it to Detroit, forcing the Wolverines to avoid the big city during Final Four week.
Best Case: Blake Griffin becomes the larger and more muscled version of Stephen Curry, throwing the Sooners on his sculpted back and carrying them to the Final Four. He averages 25 points and 15 rebounds, and with Willie Warren back to taking good shots and Austin Johnson back to creating with his passing, Oklahoma gets its groove back. Despite losing to Pittsburgh in the national semifinals, it's one of the best seasons in school history. After it's over, AD Joe Castiglione convinces Jeff Capel to stay. (Convincing Griffin to stay is another matter.)
Worst Case: Last-season slide that resulted in losing four of their last six continues for the Sooners. They're stunned in the first round by Morgan State, which frustrates Griffin with double-teams the way Missouri did earlier this month and Louisville did last year. Not only does Griffin go pro, but Warren unwisely follows. Capel has his choice of other jobs and takes one of them. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State and Texas both go further than the Sooners.
|Morgan State (15)
Best Case: Bears' first-ever NCAA tournament appearance does not leave them starry-eyed. Instead, the team that beat Maryland and won 13 of its last 14 somehow finds a way to keep Griffin from going Wilt Chamberlain. Guard Reggie Holmes hits the game winner, and Morgan State is the biggest story out of the MEAC since former Hampton coach Steve Merfeld was being carried around with his legs kicking like an upside-down beetle. Coach Todd Bozeman handles his return from violation-induced exile with equanimity as opposed to bitterness.
Worst Case: Griffin dunks an alley-oop on Oklahoma's first possession and goes on to score 38 points on the overmatched Bears, who are beaten by halftime. It was fun while it lasted, but it didn't last very long. Fans in Kansas City who remember the California scandal haze Bozeman, but he gets another job and jilts the school that gave him his second chance.
Best Case: A.J. Price hits game-winning shot to beat Memphis in regional final. Jeff Adrien putback beats Louisville in Final Four, then he throws his mouthpiece into the crowd for a slobbery souvenir. Finally, Hasheem Thabeet rejects a DeJuan Blair dunk attempt at the buzzer to preserve a one-point national championship victory for the Huskies. Thabeet is named MOP after posting Noah numbers: 35 points, 25 rebounds, 12 blocks in two games. In the end, even Ken Krayeske agrees: Jim Calhoun has earned his salary this year.
Worst Case: Huskies don't recover from consecutive losses to Pitt and Syracuse and register a no-show performance. They never miss injured Jerome Dyson more than in the second round, when BYU's Lee Cummard lights up UConn for 25 points in a staggering defeat. Price shoots 3-for-15 and the Huskies fail to get the ball inside enough. Third time in four years Connecticut is upset by a much lower seed, and much of the Nutmeg State joins Krayeske in suggesting that Calhoun is overpaid.
Best Case: The plane to Philly is on time, the hotel beds are comfortable, the practice gym is available when it's supposed to be, and the team finds a primo cheesesteak spot. Then the mighty Mocs shock the socks off UConn by staying in the game until the 12-minute mark of the second half. After that, reality sets in.
Worst Case: Tourney organizers miffed that the Southern Conference champion is not Davidson and Stephen Curry shove the Mocs in fleabag hotel and moldy practice gym in Chester. Then UConn shoves the Mocs off the floor in the first four minutes on the way to a 35-point blowout.
Best Case: Regional final. Hot-shooting, disruptive Cougars handle Texas A&M, then wall UConn off the offensive glass, then slice through Washington's indifferent defense to reach the Elite Eight. Team that won 11 of its last 14 -- with the losses by a total of nine points -- will be in every contest. Just keep BYU off the court on Sundays and everything will be fine.
Worst Case: Cougars don't react well to what is a 10:30 tip-off Mountain time, sleepwalk through the first half, fall 15 points behind the Aggies and then cannot come back. Compassionate Philly fans boo and call the Cougars chokers. Meanwhile, Utah and Utah State both go on runs through the bracket.
|Texas A&M (9)
Best Case: Josh Carter is a morning person, dropping seven 3s on groggy BYU in the second-earliest tip-off of the entire tournament. Then he does the same thing to UConn in Round 2, and the Aggies catch a break by meeting 13th-seeded Mississippi State in a maroon-intensive Sweet 16 game. By the time A&M is done with the Bulldogs, the Aggies are having midnight yell practice in Glendale. Loss to Memphis in regional final finally stops all the yelling.
Worst Case: If the Aggies can surrender 29 straight points to the third-leading scorer on a 14-19 team, how many can they give up to Lee Cummard, Jimmer Fredette or Jonathan Tavernari, all of whom average more than Mike Singletary? Let's go for 30 straight in a BYU victory. Afterward, A&M coach Mark Turgeon gets an engraved invitation to a coach's clinic on how to deny an offensive player the ball.
Best Case: Robbie Hummel makes shots inside and out, continuing his late-season resurgence after a back injury. JaJuan Johnson controls the paint, continuing his season-long coming-out party. E'Twaun Moore makes plays the way he's capable of. Purdue defends like a Matt Painter team and shoots the way it did in the Big Ten tourney (42 percent in three victories). Boilermakers go where they never went under Gene Keady: the Final Four. Indiana fans slink further into hiding.
Worst Case: Locked in a possession-by-possession trench warfare game with Northern Iowa, the Boilermakers are eliminated in the first round. Purdue Pete is ejected for swinging his sledgehammer with excessive force. One member of Purdue's talented sophomore triumvirate (Hummel, Johnson, Moore) turns pro. Indiana fans continue to point out the superiority of their trophy case.
|Northern Iowa (12)
Best Case: Panthers' diligent interior defense frustrates Purdue's big men, and when the Boilers aren't making shots from the outside they're forced into a slow-down game that's won by UNI in an upset. After Mississippi State upsets Washington, Iowa's best basketball program beats the Bulldogs and magically appears in the Sweet 16. Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin takes that opportunity to remind America that Creighton got screwed out of an at-large bid in favor of yet another middle-of-the-pack team from a glamour league.
Worst Case: Team that couldn't score against Marquette (43 points) and Iowa (46 points) can't score against the Boilermakers, either. An 18-point first half results in a 20-point deficit, and it's all over but the handshakes. The Panthers are overmatched athletically and can't do anything about it. Missouri Valley carping about being a one-bid league falls on deaf ears.
Best Case: Huskies sprint through Mississippi State and punk Purdue by forcing the tempo out of the Boilermakers' comfort zone. In Glendale, Washington gets double Sweet 16 revenge upon UConn. The Huskies East eliminated the Huskies West in 1998 on a last-second shot in the regional semifinals, and the Huskies East eliminated the Huskies West in overtime in 2006 in the same round. This time it's Jon Brockman hitting the game-winning putback at the buzzer. Somewhere, Todd MacCulloch looks up from a pinball machine and smiles. In an NBA locker room, so does Brandon Roy. Huskies go on to reach their first Final Four since 1951, when they were under the direction of the immortal William "Tippy" Dye.
Worst Case: Huskies run into a hot Bulldogs team -- most notably the long arms of Jarvis Varnado inside -- and are ejected from the Dance in the first round. Defensively indifferent Huskies fail to close out on Mississippi State shooters and are strafed from the outside. Washington fans unsuccessfully attempt to blame the outcome on East Coast bias. Meanwhile, Jake Locker gets hurt in spring football practice.
|Mississippi State (13)
Best Case: Jarvis Varnado blocks everything within 5 feet of him at the Rose Garden and a team full of streaky 3-point shooters sinks them all. After finishing their conference tournament on a roll, the Bulldogs oust Washington, a team that played badly in its conference tournament. Mississippi State then knocks off equally upset-minded Northern Iowa to advance to the Sweet 16. The wall comes up in Arizona in the form of Hasheem Thabeet, and Connecticut sends the Bulldogs home.
Worst Case: Rick Stansbury's history of sketchy NCAA tournament coaching haunts the Bulldogs again. The streaky shooters miss everything, Varnado swats nothing more than air and the Bulldogs, who weren't very good all season in a bad league, get rolled by Washington by 20.
Best Case: Maurice Acker, tired of hearing that the Golden Eagles have no chance without Dominic James at point guard, hits game-winning 3-pointer to upset Memphis in the Sweet 16. From there, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward come up just short in a valiant regional final effort against UConn. Hayward comes back to school for his senior season. Buzz Williams gets a raise. Wisconsin once again fails to beat a team seeded in the top half of the tournament.
Worst Case: The Golden Eagles are hosed by the NCAA, placing them in Boise against an 11th-seeded Utah State team that is only four hours from home. Marquette has no chance without James and is done in Round 1, ending its season by losing six of seven. Hayward looks at all the guards leaving the program and decides he's out of there, too. Buzz Williams is criticized for failing to make adjustments in the absence of James. Wisconsin goes on fairy-tale run to regional final.
|Utah State (11)
Best Case: Gary Wilkinson, the high school dropout turned star Aggies center, becomes the Cinderella story of the tournament's first week after leading Utah State to the Sweet 16. Wilkinson drops 20 and 10 on Marquette and then repeats the feat against Missouri. USU capitalizes on cushy placement in nearby Boise and shows why it won 30 games. Stew Morrill is heralded as an underappreciated coaching sharpie. Meanwhile, Utah and BYU both get bounced in the first round.
Worst Case: Wilkinson gets in early foul trouble, and Marquette's guards spindle the Aggies in a blowout first-round loss. Morrill is criticized for his 1-7 NCAA tournament history. Both Utah and BYU crash the Sweet 16.
Best Case: Relentless pressure defense and constant trapping totally overwhelm Cornell and wear down Marquette, and when coach Mike Anderson faces familiar opponent John Calipari in the regional semifinals, he's ready. Anderson's Tigers force nine turnovers from freshman Tyreke Evans and bounce into the regional final, where they run the legs off Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien on their way to the first Final Four in school history. Anderson signs 10-year contract extension. Kansas loses to North Dakota State. All-night party breaks out on the quad.
Worst Case: After wobbling past Cornell, Tigers are gifted with the presence of 11th-seeded Utah State in the second round -- and blow the opportunity. Mizzou falls behind by 15 early, shoots 29 percent from the field, fails to force turnovers and slinks out of Boise badly beaten. Anderson answers call to return to his home state and coach Alabama. Kansas repeats as national champion. On campus, one of the columns in the quad tips over and squashes three coeds.
Best Case: Despite dreadful draw in athletic terms, Big Red are not uncomfortable playing quickly. Cornell stays calm in the face of Missouri pressure, limits turnovers, takes good shots and allows the Tigers to quickly fire bad shots. Game stays close into the final seconds. Bad year in the Ivy League looks a little better after noble defeat.
Worst Case: Ivy League basketball craters. Thanks to dreadful draw in athletic terms, Cornell turns the ball over on its first four possessions, falls behind 10-0, panics and folds. Missouri team that went 8-4 against opponents in the NCAA field beats down Big Red team that went 0-3 against the field.
Best Case: Golden Bears get the Mike Montgomery coaching effort that took Stanford to the 1998 Final Four as Cal picks apart Maryland with deadly 3-point shooting and tidy ballhandling. Bears then scare Memphis in Round 2, pushing it to the brink before relenting. Team without seniors returns intact to challenge for the Pac-10 crown in 2010.
Worst Case: Golden Bears get the Monty who coached Stanford to staggering NCAA upset losses in 1999, 2000 and 2004. Cal cannot contain Greivis Vasquez or get decent perimeter looks against annoying Maryland defense. Bears are blown out, ending their season with four losses in their last seven games, and remain without an NCAA win since 2003. After the season, two underclassmen leave the team to live in a tree on campus.
Best Case: Gary Williams and athletic director Debbie Yow embrace after the Terrapins upset both California and Memphis to reach the Sweet 16. Not done there, Greivis Vasquez solves Missouri's pressure defense, and the Terps reach the regional final before losing to UConn. Williams says, "This run is for you, Debbie." Yow responds, "Lifetime contract, Gary." Without encouragement or involvement from Under Armour, recruits line up to sign with the Terps.
Worst Case: Williams and Yow engage in hallway hissing match in Kansas City after Maryland loses by 20 to Cal. "I made this athletic department," Williams says. "I'm calling Tubby," Yow responds. Under Armour reps slip out the back door of the locker room. Duke and North Carolina go on to the Final Four.
Best Case: After hugging William Wesley, populist millionaire John Calipari waves a Ford Field net over his head and declares that this is for Conference USA, and for the disenfranchised middle class of Division I basketball nationwide. Final Four Most Outstanding Player Tyreke Evans says he's had so much fun in college, he's coming back to do it again next year with Xavier Henry, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall. C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky abandons pretense and moves the league office to the Finch Center, Memphis' practice facility.
Worst Case: Up three against Maryland in the second round with 10 seconds to play, Calipari actually uses his final timeout and instructs his players to foul rather than surrender a 3-point shot. Doneal Mack tardily fouls Vasquez as he's shooting, the ball goes in, and Vasquez makes the free throw to win the game. Evans declares for the draft before he takes off his uniform. Wesley finds a new favorite team. Telling friends he's sick of being part of the disenfranchised middle class, Calipari lobbies behind the scenes for every open job in a BCS league.
|Cal State Northridge (15)
Best Case: Matadors hear all their names pronounced correctly in pregame introductions. Then they tip off against Memphis. Nobody is hurt, and coach Bobby Braswell goes deep into the first half without having to call a timeout.
Worst Case: Braswell might be living the worst case already this week. According to the L.A. Times, he spent much of Monday attending a hearing in San Fernando County Court to see whether his son, Jeffrey, should stand trial on felony burglary and theft charges for his part in alleged thefts from a Best Buy store where the younger Braswell worked. Doesn't get too much worse than that.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.