NCAA 'Madness' Marches Toward Sweet 16
LIANE HANSEN, host:
The NCAA's men's college basketball tournament continues today. The field of 64 has been narrowed to 24 and by the end of the day, the Sweet 16 will be left to duke it out. And speaking of Duke, the perennial favorite is still in. So are other big names, Yukon and Texas, but as in year's past, some unknown teams, Bradley, George Mason University and Northwestern State managed to upset higher seeded teams. Joe Sullivan is sports editor for the Boston Globe and he's on the phone from home. Joe, first, three top seeds play today. Briefly, who are they and do you think they're going to make it to the Sweet 16?
Mr. JOE SULLIVAN (Sports Editor, Boston Globe Newspaper): Well, Yukon is playing today against Kentucky. Yukon is an overall No. 1 seed. I think they'll do fine. I think they'll beat Kentucky, but it's certainly an intriguing match up because Kentucky is probably the most storied college basketball school in the country. They're having for them what is a down year. They're still playing in the NCAA tournament and I believe Yukon will beat them today. And then we have Villanova playing Arizona.
Again, a matchup of two very good basketball schools that have a lot of great tradition. Villanova's the No. 1 seed in Arizona, who has won the national championship in the past, is not quite what they've been in the past. Memphis is the last No. 1 team that's playing today and they have a really intriguing matchup that will get the lovers of the underdogs sweating heavily. They're playing Bucknell, the small school from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and on the face of it, Memphis should win.
Bucknell will be overmatched. But Bucknell is a team with a lot of experience that plays a very smart brand of basketball. It's not beyond the realm of possibility they could pull off an upset here, but I can't predict that because I think Memphis will advance.
So I think the three number ones that play today, just like Duke did yesterday, which is the fourth No. 1, will move on to the Sweet 16.
HANSEN: Can you predict which match will be the closest?
SULLIVAN: Well, looking over my list, I really think North Carolina State, Texas is going to be a really tough game for Texas. Texas is the No. 2 seed and North Carolina State is only a 10 seed, but that's because they finished the season very poorly. They're still a talented team, a veteran team that made the Sweet 16 last year. So Texas really needs to be playing their best today and North Carolina State could upset them, I think.
HANSEN: My brackets stink. How are yours doing?
SULLIVAN: Mine doesn't too well either. I have to admit that. The upsets get all of us. Even when you reach for the upset you think you have it and then you have a team like Northwestern State from Louisiana that beat Iowa on Friday that was so unexpected. One of their players, he threw in a shot from the corner with a half a second left to beat Iowa in a shocking game, and I don't know anyone except Northwestern State grads that thought that might happen.
HANSEN: Can I put you in a position to predict the Final Four and the champions?
SULLIVAN: I'm make an attempt here, but I think Yukon is the most talented team in the nation. I think they'll win the National Championship. Joining them in the Final Four I'll take Ohio State, a team I like very much. They're the second seeded team in the Minneapolis region. I think Texas will come out of Atlanta. I think they'll beat Duke, a team they have to get past to make it to the Final Four. And then right now I'm going to take Memphis, the No. 1 seed out of Oakland, but that's a real shaky one. I see them as someone who could stumble, but I'll take them right now.
HANSEN: And just like spring weather, things are subject to change.
SULLIVAN: They certainly are.
HANSEN: Joe Sullivan is the sports editor for the Boston Globe. Joe, thanks a lot.
SULLIVAN: You're welcome.
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