UCLA stands in Kansas' way to the Final Four

Updated: March 12, 2007, 8:15 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Editor's note: We asked Andy Katz to analyze each region. Check out his East, South and Midwest region breakdowns.

Brandon Rush
AP Photo/Danny JohnstonBrandon Rush powers the Jayhawks' offense.
1. Kansas: The Jayhawks are peaking at the right time and are getting something from just about everyone on the team. The play of Brandon Rush and guards Sherron Collins and Mario Chalmers has been stellar. No one would be shocked if the Jayhawks win the whole event.

2. UCLA: The Bruins started to question their focus after they lost to Cal in the Pac-10 tourney. Still, if Darren Collison is turnover-free and pushing the ball, the Bruins could be the top choice out of this bracket.

3. Pitt: The Panthers have flopped in big games lately. The onus is on Aaron Gray to be a major presence in this region for the Panthers to have a chance.

4. Southern Illinois: Defense is the staple. But SIU can't go through an offensive lapse. Chris Lowery will be a hot name -- if he isn't already -- at various openings.

5. Virginia Tech: It would be nice if the fellas told Seth Greenberg which team was going to show up: the one that beat Duke or the one that lost to Marshall.

6. Duke: Do not adjust your screen. That does say No. 6 next to Duke. Gerald Henderson returns to the lineup against VCU after serving his one-game suspension for a flagrant foul.

7. Indiana: If D.J. White decides to be a dominant player, the Hoosiers have a shot to advance. White is one of the most talented forwards in the bracket.

8. Kentucky: Stay in your lane! If the Wildcats get to the Sweet 16 -- let alone the second round -- the fans should be pleased. But the truth hurts. They haven't been playing well of late and missing out on the Sweet 16 makes the fan base restless.

Scottie Reynolds
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesVillanova's Scottie Reynolds enters the tournament on a hot streak.
9. Villanova: Paying to watch Scottie Reynolds makes sense in this bracket. Reynolds is proving to be one of the top scoring point guards in the country.

10. Gonzaga: Mark Few insists the Zags are a better team without Josh Heytvelt. Well, now is their chance. Few wasn't thrilled with the draw because it meant possibly reliving the loss to UCLA that left Adam Morrison crying last season.

11. VCU: Anthony Grant has quietly done one of the top coaching jobs in the nation. The Rams have a solid backcourt and they believe they can beat Duke.

12. Illinois: The llini as a 12-seed just doesn't sound right, but the numbers don't lie. Illinois is lucky to be included. Still, playing Virginia Tech means not too many open looks.

13. Holy Cross: It's amazing that Holy Cross versus the higher-seeded Southern Illinois is a big-time game.

14. Wright State: Pitt can't sleep on coach Brad Brownell's squad. He is a proven winner, as evidenced by the Raiders' performance in his first season and his previous track record at UNC Wilmington.

15. Weber State: Going from last to first in the Big Sky should be rewarded, but maybe not with a bid. Weber State didn't expect to be a high seed, and being put in the opening-round game wouldn't have been a reach.

16. Florida A&M or Niagara: The opening-round game should just cease to exist. Just take away one at-large bid and give the 31 leagues the automatic bids, instead of making two teams play for the final spot in the field. The reward for winning this game is a matchup against top-seeded Kansas.

Dream entertaining matchup: Kansas vs. UCLA. This is a case of the 1-2 matchup being the preferred choice.

Pressure's on: Kansas to win the first game, Kentucky to get to the Sweet 16, Pitt to advance to the Sweet 16, Southern Illinois to uphold a No. 4 seed.

You'll really love: Wright State's Dashaun Wood, a 5-foot-11 senior guard.

This is the Ben Howland sub-bracket: UCLA is playing the Bruins coach's alma mater, Weber State; Howland used to work at Gonzaga (a possible second-round matchup); and his close friend and former assistant Jamie Dixon is the head coach at Pitt, a possible Sweet 16 opponent.

Favorite character: Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. There are few coaches who pour their bodies into every possession like Mihalich does on the sideline.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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