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Midwest

Taking Wake lightly is a Cardinal sin

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / March 16, 2009
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By virtue of the top overall seed in the tournament, Louisville gets some breaks. It plays first- and second-round games in Dayton, Ohio, and the Midwest Regionals are in Indianapolis, both relatively short trips. Even Detroit, site of the Final Four, is within driving distance. Count on Rick Pitino's Cardinals to enjoy the ride for a while. They will start out Friday against the winner of the play-in game (Alabama State-Morehead State). They will then deal with either Ohio State or Siena. The Saints are experienced and talented and will not be fazed by the tournament hoopla. But beating Ohio State only makes them a sacrificial lamb for Louisville.

The other half of Louisville's draw will be tougher. Arizona surprised some by making the field. The Wildcats should get past Utah. They won't surprise Wake Forest, which is young, but very talented and should take care of Cleveland State. That would send Louisville and Wake Forest to Indianapolis.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Michigan State and Kansas are the chalk, so to speak. Michigan State should have no problem with Robert Morris, but it could stumble in the next round. Southern California is a talented team that jumped from the bubble to an automatic berth by winning the Pac-10 tournament. The Trojans can beat Boston College, but Al Skinner's team is disciplined. BC can also handle Michigan State if Tyrese Rice takes over the game. Count on that to happen.

Kansas is also a quirky team. The Jayhawks were up and down and lost early in the Big 12 tournament. They should get by Cinderella story North Dakota State, but watch out after that. West Virginia or Dayton will be waiting. Expect the Mountaineers to send the Jayhawks home.

That leaves Wake Forest, Louisville, BC, and West Virginia heading to the regionals.

Wake Forest vs. Louisville will be an above-the-rim game, and Wake Forest can pull off the upset. West Virginia is better than BC, but it will be tough. The Mountaineers can squeeze out a win, but they won't be able to do it against Wake Forest.

UPSET SPECIAL: BC over Michigan State, West Virginia over Kansas

MOVING TO INDIANAPOLIS: Louisville, Wake Forest, BC, West Virginia

REGIONAL CHAMP: Wake Forest

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