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Sweet 16 breakdown

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
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Albuquerque Region

No. 1 Washington - The Huskies have dominated their opponents in their first two games, averaging 92.5 points per game.

Why they will win: Junior guard Nate Robinson has the biggest heart of any player in the tournament, and fellow guards Will Conroy, Brandon Roy and Tre Simmons are tough matchups for any team to stop.

Why they won't win: If the Huskies get into a slow down, half-court game at any point in the tournament, they won't have enough inside muscle to overcome a poor shooting performance.

No. 4 Louisville - After the Cardinals survived a scare against Louisiana Lafayette, they handily defeated a Georgia Tech team some predicted to go deep in the tournament.

Why they will win: Coach Rick Pitino has won a national championship before and his high octane offense features both solid inside play with freshman Juan Palacios and outside play with shooters Taquan Dean and Francisco Garcia. Louisville has won its last 11 games.

Why they won't win: The Cardinals have not been to the Elite Eight since 1997 and a more talented Washington team, who plays a similar style, stands in their way.

No. 6 Texas Tech - The Red Raiders upset Gonzaga in the second round, and head coach Bob Knight has this overachieving group playing Indiana-style basketball.

Why they will win: The best teacher in college basketball has a team that plays hard for him for 40 minutes. With a mix of courage and scrappiness, the Red Raiders play in your face defense and make smart decisions down the stretch.

Why they won't win: The starting point guard Ronald Ross was once a walk-on and the talent level on this team is nowhere near the talent of a championship team. Even Knight told ESPN he would have been pleased at the beginning of the year knowing his team would make the Sweet 16.

No. 7 West Virginia - In arguably the best game of the tournament so far, West Virginia knocked off Wake Forest in double overtime. Kevin Pittsnogle and crew went from bubble team to title contender in a span of weeks.

Why they will win: For the last month of the season, West Virginia has had its back against the wall and each time they have found the way to come out on top. Using ball movement and perimeter shooting, they've used strategy to beat more talented teams.

Why they won't win: Eventually, this Cinderella story will end because the Mountaineers will not be able to keep draining contested 3-pointers for much longer.

Austin Region

No. 1 Duke - The Blue Devils are in the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive time. Duke didn't look spectacular in the first half of either game, but each time it came out with a comfortable win.

Why they will win: Coach K has used every coaching move he has in his bag to get the most out of this Duke team. Duke's inside out game is as good as it gets with sharpshooter J.J. Redick on the perimeter and Shelden Williams down in the box.

Why they won't win: Usually Duke has a vocal leader who steps up in the NCAA Tournament, la Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, Shane Battier and Christian Laettner. This time is a little different, with the quieter Daniel Ewing leading the show and no natural point guard, except for Sean Dockery who has been inconsistent and hurt.

Redick hasn't been himself in the past few games either, shooting 6-for-24 from the field.

No. 5 Michigan State - The Spartans avoided two potential upsets, beating Old Dominion and Vermont. Michigan State is in the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in eight years.

Why they will win: Since freshman point guard Drew Neitzel took over the team, the Spartans have been clicking. Athleticism on the wings and an almost 50 percent shooting rate on the season - as well as Tom Izzo's hard-nosed defensive scheme - will spell success for the Spartans.

Why they won't win: When things get tough, the Spartans have nowhere to go. High school All-Americans Paul Davis and Shannon Brown have not emerged as superstars and Michigan State has already folded in the final moments against Wisconsin. The Spartans lost two of their last four games heading into the tournament to Indiana and Iowa.

No. 2 Kentucky - After almost sneaking into a No. 1 seed, the Kentucky Wildcats blew their chances by losing to Florida in the SEC title game. Kentucky did go on to take care of its first two opponents and did post a 23-4 regular season record.

Why they will win: The Wildcats are deep, talented and have a lot of weapons at their disposal. Combo guard Patrick Sparks and point guard Rajon Rondo will have to shoot well for Kentucky to win it all.

Why they won't win: A lack of tough tests during the season and the disappointing loss to Florida, as well as the lack of experience, will hurt Kentucky's chances.

No. 6 Utah - The Utes upset Oklahoma in the second round and are one of only two teams from a non-major conference remaining.

Why they will win: Two words: Andrew Bogut. The best player in the country can take this team to the promised land with a Danny Manning-like performance. Head coach Ray Giacoleti runs almost every play through the big man from Australia.

Why they won't win: It's not too much to ask one player to have the game of his life for one game. But it is too much for four straight games and the Utes can't win without him.

Syracuse Region

No. 1 North Carolina - Everyone's pick to win the title, the Tarheels haven't been as dominating as some thought. The trio of Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May to go along with freshman sensation Marvin Williams has the Tarheels poised to win in St. Louis.

Why they will win: No team out there has more talent than North Carolina and when it plays its "A" game, no team is able to compete. The Tarheels have a quick point guard and can play any tempo or style, so teams will have to adjust to their weapon of choice.

Why they won't win: North Carolina collapsed against Georgia Tech, had no answer for Duke in the last seconds and almost got beat by Clemson. If they have to make an important play in the closing seconds, can they get it done? No.

No. 5 Villanova - These Wildcats got hot in the middle of the season and never cooled down. Its guards, Allan Ray and Randy Foye, can shoot the 3-ball with the best, and Jason Fraser is a force inside.

Why they will win: Villanova played a Big East schedule so they're ready for the tough teams they must face. When their shooters are on, they became impossible to stop.

Why they won't win: With Curtis Sumpter, Villanova's best big man out for the rest of the tournament, the Wildcats' title hopes have gone down the drain.

No. 6 Wisconsin - The Badgers play old-school basketball and they get out and defend as well as anyone. They've beaten two double-digit seeds in Northern Iowa and Bucknell thus far.

Why they will win: The Badgers execute and that's what it takes to win in the NCAA tournament. Mike Wilkinson and Alando Tucker are physical players who can shoot the ball as well. Defensively, Wisconsin gives up just 60.7 points per game, which led the Big Ten.

Why they won't win: The Badgers are not even the best team in their conference, losing twice to Illinois. Offensively, they lack the firepower if the pace of the game becomes faster.

No. 10 NC State - The Wolf Pack had to fight just to get into the big dance, but once they got in, they quickly pulled off two upsets, including a stunner over defending champion Connecticut.

Why they will win: Using their Princeton-style offense, NC State can compete with any team. Backdoor cuts and 3-point shots key their attack. Senior Julius Hodge plays with abandon and can win a game by himself.

Why they won't win: NC State struggles against zones and if it can't make its 3-pointers, it will struggle to win.

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