Washington region might be home to upsets

Originally Published: March 12, 2006
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Here's a first look at the 1-seeds and how I would attack them if I drew them in the NCAAs.

Overview

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun wanted to be shipped. He didn't want to lose to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, but many thought the loss would cause the Huskies to be put into a different region. Calhoun wanted to be put somewhere other than Washington, D.C., because of the potential distractions with Rudy Gay and Josh Boone playing so close to home.

Well, he didn't get his wish, but he did get the easiest bracket. The D.C. regional has the most late-addition bubble teams, including No. 10 Seton Hall, No. 11 George Mason, No. 12 Utah State and No. 13 Air Force. The No. 2 seed is Tennessee, a squad that has been struggling of late. If the Huskies want to play, they've got the talent to win this region and the entire bracket.

Strength of Region

It's hard to find it. North Carolina is a stronger No. 3 than the No. 2 Tennessee and could be a tougher opponent for the Huskies, considering the Tar Heels have a beast inside in freshman Tyler Hansbrough. Michigan State comes in as a team still searching for its identity. Washington has one of the best players in the region in Brandon Roy, but was saddled with the toughest draw in Utah State. The Huskies could have a tough matchup with the 8-9 winner, especially if the winner is UAB, but the Blazers' running style might play into the Huskies' fast break.

Best Matchups

No. 5 Washington vs. No. 12 Utah State

The Huskies have been an erratic team this season, while the Aggies have quietly churned along. The Huskies want to run while the Aggies will go through a series of plays. There is always a 12-5 upset, and this one may be the pick.

No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 9 UAB

If this game is as good as it was a few years ago, then we might see one of the top games in the first round. The Blazers will force the Wildcats to run, which they can do. Expect this one to be a track meet.

Upset Alert

No. 15 Winthrop vs. No. 2 Tennessee

Winthrop has already beaten Marquette on the road this season. This squad has the moxie to pull off an upset over the Vols. Tennessee is limping into the field after losing to South Carolina in the SEC tournament.

Player to Watch

Marcus Williams, Connecticut: He has become the most valuable player for the Huskies. He's also asserting himself as the go-to guy. If either the first- or second-round game comes down to a final possession, then look for Williams to take the shot.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE