Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Newest "Sucker Pick"

If you read my tournament preview column, you know that I've tabbed Syracuse as this year's biggest sucker pick. Despite the Orange's significant experience and vaunted zone defense, they simply don't have the firepower to beat both Michigan State and Duke, not to mention win an Elite Eight contest with the team coming out of the bottom half of the South Region.

However, as likely as Syracuse is to ruin a few risk-taker's brackets, there is a new Sucker Pick coming on strong ... the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech. I don't mean to be too hard on the Yellow Jackets, but the truth is that they are not in an ideal situation to make an extended run through the tournament. They miss Marvin Lewis desperately (they have no wing players that can consistently drill that corner three), they don't get into their offense quickly enough, and they are too banged up (read: B.J. Elder's ankle) to rattle of multiple wins in a short amount of time. Plus, the matchups are terrible. George Washington is a wild but dangerous opponent in Round One and recent history tells us that, on paper, Tech is the most likely of the #5 seeds to lose in the first round. If they survive the opening day bloodbath, they will most likely face a Louisville team that should have been a #2 seed. The Cardinals are just as well-coached, play with the same toughness on the defensive end (Tech's biggest strength), and have far more offensive firepower. If Georgia Tech wins both games in Young Buck's home town of Cashville, they will then most likely face the top seeded Washington Huskies in the Sweet 16 and either Gonzaga or Wake Forest in the Regional Final. Yikes.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, experts everywhere (including "my boy" Wilbon on PTI) see Georgia Tech as the team to beat in the West and are casting their lot with Paul Hewitt and the Jackets. Despite the fact that I owe Georgia Tech big time for reaching the title game a year ago, I have to believe it's a big mistake to think they'll come anywhere near replicating the feat.

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