2009 Tournament with the Big East dominance. Last Year the Big East led the way with 7 total bids, 3 #1 seeds, 2 #3 seeds and 2 #6 seeds. They also sent 2 teams to the Final Four. This year the Big East leads the way with 8 total bids. Syracuse is the only #1 seed, but the Big East has 2 #2's, 2 #3's, 2 #6's and 1 #9seed. It would not shock me if the Big East again had two teams in the Final Four but it will be a lot tougher than it was last year.
Also like last year, one region has the nation's best team and the nation's best player. Last year the South Region had the nation's top team in UNC as a 1 seed and had the nation's top player, Blake Griffin and Oklahoma as a 2 seed. Also in that region as a 3 seed was Syracuse. A team that helped their seed by getting to the final of the Big East Tournament. This year the Midwest Region is like that. The Midwest has the nation's top team in Kansas, the nation's top player in Evan Turner and Ohio St. and a very good Big East team that helped their seeding by getting to the final of the Big East Tournament in Georgetown. History always repeats itself.
2008 because it would not shock me one bit if all 4 number 1 seeds make it to the Final Four. Kansas and Kentucky have been nearly unstoppable the whole season. Syracuse has to go out west, but they have a pretty nice draw. I think if the Cuse can get by Butler in the Sweet 16, they match up very well with Kansas St. and would be looking for revenge against Pittsburgh who beat them earlier this season. As for Duke, it seems like the selection committee went out of their way to ensure Duke had a smooth ride to the Final Four. However it should be noted that Duke could be playing two Texas teams in Houston in the Sweet 16 and Eitle 8 in Texas A&M and Baylor. Duke has had some major road woes and hasn't been to the Final Four since 2004, so the Blue Devils are far from a lock to get to Indy.
This tournament reminds me of 2007 because the number 2 seeds are very good. In 2007, all but one of the 2 seeds made it to the Elite 8 (Wisconsin lost in the second round) and two (Georgetown and UCLA) made it to the Final Four. Just like 2007, two of those number 2 seeds won their conference tournament (Georgetown and Memphis), this year both West Virginia and Ohio St. won their conference tournament. That's very good news for those two teams. The bad news is that if they do get to the Elite 8, Ohio St. will likely face Kansas while West Virginia will likely take on Kentucky. Villanova is a number 2 seed that is struggling much like Wisconsin did in 2007. Don't be surprised if Nova loses to Richmond or St. Mary's in the second round.
This tournament reminds me of 2006 because the Midwest Region is brutal. When the brackets came out in 2006 I said "whoever wins the Midwest is going to win the title." As soon as George Mason beat UConn in the upset of the century I knew the Florida-Villanova winner was going to win the national title. Sure enough the Gators won the 2006 title. That year the Midwest had Florida as a #3 seed, Villanova as the #1, Ohio St. as the #2 and Boston College as the #4. Ohio St. ended up losing to #7 Georgetown in the second round and then Georgetown gave Florida their toughest game of the tournament, a 57-53 loss in the Sweet 16. Villanova and Boston College played a classic game which Villanova won by one-point in overtime on a goaltending call.
Ironically Ohio St. and Georgetown can play in the tournament for the third time in 5 years in a rubber match in the Sweet 16. After Georgetown beat Ohio St. in 2006, the Buckeyes returned the favor beating the Hoyas in the 2007 Final Four. This time it should be to determine who will play Kansas in the Elite 8. The Jayhawk's road to Indy is no walk in the park either. The top overall seed will play the UNLV/Northern Iowa winner then a likely showdown against either Maryland or Michigan St in the Sweet 16. One thing is certain, the team that comes out of St. Louis on top will be battle tested and ready to win the national title.
And finally this tournament reminds me of 2005 because just like in 2005 two teams have clearly dominated college basketball this year. In 2005, UNC had a loaded team that produced 4 NBA lottery picks and ended up winning the national title. Illinois had only one loss going into the dance and were led by current NBA star Deron Williams. They were easily the two best teams in the country and sure enough they met in the title. The title game ended up being a classic that went right down to the wire and UNC ended up winning 75-70. This season Kansas and Kentucky have dominated the college game from start to finish. So anything less than seeing both of these big blue teams in Indianapolis on April 5th would be a surprise and some what of a let down for the die hard college basketball fan. But then again this is March where anything is possible.