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SOUTH REGIONAL

Chris Dufresne | The Bottom Line

March 12, 2007|CHRIS DUFRESNE

We all know what happened the last time Ohio State took a No. 1 team into an important postseason event. It was called the Bowl Championship Series national title game.

No knock here, but it's tough to win this tournament as the front-runner. Unlike football, Ohio State won't have more than 50 days off between games, but the fact is that, since 1979, only four schools ranked No. 1 in the polls entering the tournament have won it. Duke did it twice, in 1992 and 2001.

The Buckeyes, in this case, are simply bucking history. And for all superstar freshman center Greg Oden has been made out to be, he has not yet proved to be the second coming of Lew Alcindor. Anyone think, in this NBA-diluted field, that Ohio State could have beaten UCLA's freshman squad in 1966?

Ohio State will make a run. We project the Buckeyes into the regional final, where the Buckeyes will lose to Memphis on a last-second three-pointer.

Memphis? The same Memphis that played one of the all-time ugliest games in NCAA history last year when it made only 17 of 54 shots in the West regional final against UCLA?

You'd have expected officials to order hard hats worn for any NCAA game featuring the Memphis Missers, but we also think John Calipari's team is out to make amends. It might just be time again for Calipari, who took Massachusetts on that memorable Final Four run in 1996. It was only sullied by an NCAA probation that involved the team's center and expensive jewelry. Calipari can coach, though, and he might just be out to prove it.

More on the South: Long Beach State, led by Aaron Nixon, is just three-point crazy enough to pull off a first-round upset of Tennessee. It would be a nice present for Coach Larry Reynolds, who may not be asked back to coach next year.

Too bad Stanford, maybe the last team into the tournament, has to play No. 6 Louisville, in Lexington, Ky., in the first round. Too bad Louisville and Texas A&M, schools capable of deep tournament inroads, might have to meet on the first weekend.

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