tampabay.com

Bracket talk - Syracuse

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published March 14, 2005


SHOWING NO LOVE: According to ESPN's Dick Vitale and other analysts, this is the toughest bracket in the tournament, featuring six teams ranked in the Top 25 in the final AP poll - No. 2 North Carolina, No. 9 Kansas, No. 12 UConn, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 25 Charlotte. The team that makes it out alive will be a threat to win it all.

COULD DO DAMAGE: Florida. The Gators have won 10 of their past 12 and enter fresh off the high of winning their first SEC tournament championship over No.2-seeded Kentucky. It's the first time in at least three years that the Gators have entered the Big Dance playing their best basketball.

HOME COOKIN': Once again, it pays to be the top dog. North Carolina will play the first round about 140 miles from home. If the Tar Heels can't beat Oakland or Alabama A&M in that environment, they should shut down the program.

SHOWCASE SHOWDOWNS: This bracket holds the potential of a North Carolina-Villanova and Kansas-Connecticut Sweet 16, which could produce some classic games for fans.

UNDERRATED: All the talk is about North Carolina, with Kansas, Florida and UConn sprinkled in, but despite losing the Big Ten championship game, Wisconsin is a threat. The Badgers are a grind-it-out, defense-oriented team - the kind that always surprises opponents come tournament time.