Bracket time is almost upon us. In a few days, office pools will be going on all over the country, much to the chagrin of bosses and the NCAA. There were some pretty good games this weekend and four teams may have strengthened their arguments for the number one seeds in the tournament. Those four are (in no particular order) UCLA, Memphis, Texas and North Carolina.
Let's break these four down.
North Carolina (28-2 overall, 13-2 in the ACC). UNC is coming off a huge win at Duke last Saturday. They have all but sealed their ticket as a number one and even if they don't win the ACC championship, they're still in the NCAA Tournament for sure. An 8 game win streak helps the Tar Heels, plus Tyler Hansborough (23 ppg) is a force to be dealt with. Carolina could win the whole thing if Hansborough stays healthy. An early loss could hurt them deeply.
Memphis (30-1 overall, 16-0 in Conference USA). What's the one thing that could HURT Memphis? No, not an Elvis impersonator. Free throw shooting. The Tigers shoot 58 percent from the line, so a team that plays them in the first round that's trailing could have a chance. On the bright side, Chris Douglas-Roberts gives most teams fits. He's not the Tigers leading scorer in average but he hustles, plays as hard as you can ask a player and could be an early NBA draft pick in the event he wants to come out early.
UCLA (28-3 overall, 16-2 in Pacific 10). Either the Bruins of Westwood are good, they are lucky or both. In any case, UCLA could make some major noise in the NCAA Tournament. While I see them winning the Pac 10 Tournament in Los Angeles, a loss in that event will not ruin their chances for the number one seed. Keeping Kevin Love and Lorenzo Mata-Real healthy and out of foul trouble is their number one goal. Win early and the Bruins could be kings of the mountain again.
Texas (26-5 overall, 13-3 in Big 12). D.J. Augustin is the newer version of Kevin Durant. Augustin is the lifeblood of this ball club. When he's hot, he's more dangerous than driving on the Katy Freeway during rush hour. He has been known to struggle and if that's the case, then A.J. Abrams and cast will have to pick up the slack. The Horns don't need to win the Big 12 title per se. They're already in the dance, as far as I'm concerned.
Who is the overall number one of these four? I'm going with UCLA because they have the most talent of the four andthe most depth. Carolina can be hot and cold at times, Texas tends to struggle late in games and Memphis' free throw woes are well documented. Which one of the four will win the national title?