I return to the norm this week and look inside Lunardi's Bracketology update for Friday, Feb 27th. It seems to be a common trend that we find the Devils as a 5 seed. Personally, it seems very fitting. We are a quality team with quality wins, but clearly we are not part of the upper echelon of teams. After last night's loss to UW, the Devils have nearly bowed out of the running for Pac-10 Champion, needing UA to win this weekend to keep our hopes alive. But what really matters? The Pac-10 Tournament. Nothing makes a statement better than showing up for your conference tournament. If the Devils can take the tournament, I see them being a 3/4 seed. Anyways, on to the good stuff...the predictions.
The Devils play in the Midwest region with a game in Boise. First matchup is against Oklahoma State. Currently 18-9, the Cowboys are 0-6 against the AP Top 25. Lucky for us, the Devils are in the AP Top 25. The Cowboys have a solid rotation and are pretty deep on the bench, but I don't think they have what it takes to win in March. Their early season loss by 18 to Washington proves that they won't be able to run with the Devils (or crawl, depending on which team shows up). The Devils win this one and move on to round 2.
Round 2 brings us to the Fighting Illini. Illinois currently stands at 23-6 and are 4-2 against the AP Top 25. They play typical Big Ten ball. It is painful to watch. None of their players are too flashy or have the ability to take over a game (a la James Harden). In what could be another 38-33 molasses driven game, I think the Devils come out on top. Revenge for last years early season blowout by Illinois against the Devils. Devils continue to dance.
Sweet 16 takes the Devils to the current number 1 team in the nation (not for long), Pitt. Blair is an absolute BEAST down low, and is capable of single handedly beating ASU. But Pendergraph will put up a fight, and the Devils will compete. Pitt is a more athletic bunch than the Devils, but struggle at the charity stripe. My one belief about March is you win it at the line. I think that is how the Devils will win this one. Knocking off the number 1 seeded Panthers takes the Devils to an Elite status.
The Elite 8 will match the Devils up with Memphis. Calipari's bunch has consistently been a force to reckon with. Having already won 19 in a row, the Tigers will continue to roll into March. They should breeze through their early round matchups and probably are too athletic for the Devils to handle. Although I see their run ending in the Final Four, I do think they will beat ASU.
The Devils face a streaky Washington State team this weekend. Lets hope we can slow down Rochestie and Thompson. Until next time...GO DEVILS!