tampabay.com

Bracket talk - Austin

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published March 14, 2005


DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

It's three games away, but if the seeds hold, No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kentucky would meet in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 in St. Petersburg. In one of the most memorable comebacks - or collapses depending on your allegiance - the Wildcats erased a 17-point deficit in the final 9:38 minutes to nip Duke, 86-84, and advance to the Final Four. They went on to win the national title.

BIG MEN GALORE

Who says there are no back-to-the-basket big men left in college? Duke has Shelden Williams, Mississippi State has Lawrence Roberts, Michigan State has Paul Davis, Oklahoma has Kevin Bookout, then there's Utah sophomore Andrew Bogut, who might be the No. 1 pick in the June NBA draft if he leaves.

THE BIG FOUR

Take Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and what do you have? Merely the coaches who won the 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003 national titles.

MIXED EMOTIONS?

Eastern Kentucky coach Travis Ford has the Colonels in the field for the first time since 1979 and, in a twist of fate, he has to face his alma mater, Kentucky. Ford was a Wildcat guard (1992-94) and an assistant under Rick Pitino. You think his alumni privileges might be revoked if his team wins?

NUMBERS GAME

Iowa is the No. 10 seed, but that's not its original spot. Selection committee chairman Bob Bowlsby said the Hawkeyes were going to be a No. 9, but in order to finish the bracketing, his group moved them down a line and into a slightly more difficult matchup. Bowlsby is the athletic director at Iowa. Why the change? Iowa State, which at first was a No. 10, best fit as a 9 in the Syracuse bracket.

BEST CHANCE FOR AN UPSET

Old Dominion. The Monarchs set a school record with 28 wins thanks to a veteran, talented bunch. Two of the past four times they have reached the NCAAs, they've made it to second round.