Atlantic Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 13, 2006|By KEN MURRAY


Although Duke lost twice in the final week of the regular season, the Blue Devils regrouped quickly with another ACC tournament title. Their reward for a 30-3 season was the top seed in the NCAA tournament, first- and second-round games in Greensboro, N.C., and a favorable bracket in the Atlanta region. Duke could have trouble with Syracuse's 2-3 zone or LSU's Glen Davis, but if J.J. Redick stays hot, the Blue Devils are good to go.


Syracuse lost its last three regular-season games to put its NCAA hopes in serious jeopardy, then swept four games in the Big East tournament. From 7-9 in the conference regular season and ninth seed in the conference tourney, the Orange sewed up an automatic bid and leaped well off the bubble.


With 10 Atlantic Coast Conference wins, North Carolina State was a lock for the NCAA field, and the Wolfpack inexplicably quit playing down the stretch. It lost its last four games, including an ugly defeat against Wake Forest in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. Against California and 6-foot-8 Leon Powe in the first round, it could go quietly and quickly.


George Washington's 18-game win streak into the Atlantic 10 tournament and second consecutive regular-season conference title weren't enough to make up for a weak schedule, leaving the Colonials with the No. 8 seed. Their balance -- they have five players averaging double-figure scoring -- makes them a threat. But they'll need a healthy Pops Mensah-Bonsu, coming off knee surgery late in the season, to make a serious run.


You'd better catch LSU's Glen Davis now, because the player nicknamed Baby Shaq could be headed to the NBA draft lottery round after his sophomore season. The 6-foot-9, 310-pound Davis averaged 18.5 points and led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding with 9.9 per game, including 127 offensive boards. He blocked just 34 shots, but had 39 steals and, perhaps more impressively, did not foul out all season.


West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle might get more attention as a 6-11 three-point shooter, but senior Mike Gansey is the guy who makes the Mountaineers good. The 6-4 guard had a field-goal percentage of .559 and three-point percentage of .442 while pulling down 5.6 rebounds and scoring 17.2 points a game.


It would be hard to pick against Duke's Mike Krzyzewski in this regional, given his pedigree in the tournament. But Jim Boeheim of Syracuse might have the answer to Duke's three-point shooters with that 2-3 defense. And suddenly, the Orange is dangerous again.

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