Vitale: Quick takes on Thursday's games

Vitale: First-round matchups to watch

Vitale: Sane thoughts before the madness

Katz: Selections make sense

Dan Patrick: Tip off the madness with "Hoosiers"

2001 NCAA Tournament Special Section

Dick Vitale Archive

 He likes basketball
It's here, baby! ESPN's Dick Vitale breaks down the NCAA Tournament bracket on the Morning Show.
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 The Dan Patrick Show
Utah coach Rick Majerus gives ESPN's Dan Patrick his region-by-region picks for the NCAA Tournament.
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 Dan Patrick Show
Syracuse coaching legend Jim Boeheim reflects on his past championship game losses.
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 Dawgs not gone
Much to the chagrin of some, Georgia is in. Jim Harrick describes life on the bubble.
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 A little advice from pop
Princeton coach John Thompson III says he has tapped his father for advice throughout the season.
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 Huggins ready to rumble
Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins on how he's preparing his team for their first-round matchup against BYU.
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 Dan Patrick Show
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo runs down a list of teams that can win the title.
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Expect Duke to cut down the nets


The field of 65 is set, so let the games begin, baby! It's March Madness -- and it should be something special.

Think about all the upsets in conference-tournament play. That should tell you how competitive the Big Dance should be this year.

Final Four
Duke -- East
Maryland -- West
Arizona -- Midwest
Michigan State -- South
USC -- East
Arkansas -- West
Wake Forest -- Midwest
Texas -- South
So you are wondering about my pick to win it all? Nothing has changed since day one. The last two years, I picked the national champion in my preseason magazine, Connecticut and Michigan State.

This year I went with Duke, and I see no reason to change my pick. The Blue Devils should get an additional boost since Carlos Boozer is expected to be back during the NCAA Tournament. The big question now is the health status of Jason Williams, who hurt his ankle Sunday against North Carolina.

Duke is certainly coming into the NCAA Tournament with a lot of momentum. The win over the Tar Heels on Sunday was so impressive, dominating in all aspects of the game. Coach K's team plays unselfishly. There is no jealousy or envy, just Duke playing team basketball.

My Final Four picks are as follows: I see Gary Williams and Maryland finally breaking through and making it to Minneapolis from the West Region. They would play Duke (from the East) there in round four of this heavyweight epic battle. Let's hope it's as great as Saturday's ACC semifinal was.

In the Midwest, I see Arizona advancing to the Final Four. Loren Woods has been more aggressive lately and Gilbert Arenas has been scoring well. Woods will have a great tournament. I'll go with Michigan State in the South.

How about a salute to Mike Tranghese and his committee; they did a fantastic job and followed the book, taking the best 34 resumés. I feel bad for the mid-majors who are in a tough situation, trying to prove themselves.

As I said on my Web site yesterday, the super six conferences were going to get 29 of the at-large bids. I was lucky that it worked out that way.

The committee has to reward the teams that play the best. I thought the draw was fair. You can always find something to question, but all in all, they did a great job.

I will say this: The committee made several interesting potential second-round matchups. Duke and Coach K could meet protegé Quin Snyder and Missouri. What about Lefty Driesell possibly facing Maryland? Arizona's Woods could face his former school, Wake Forest. First the Demon Deacons have to face a tough Butler team that almost knocked off Florida last season. The Gators went on to the Final Four.

Among the sleepers to watch: Out West, Nolan Richardson's Razorbacks showed how dangerous they can be with their late run last season. The Hogs have a tough draw with Georgetown, then a possible date against Jamaal Tinsley and Iowa State.

USC is a team few people are talking about. Henry Bibby's club has the talent to surprise, led by forward Sam Clancy.

Texas, before losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 final, was playing as well as anybody. Chris Owens, Maurice Evans and company have a challenge against Lynn Greer and John Chaney's Owls. With a win, the Longhorns could give Florida a battle.

I don't consider Gonzaga a sleeper any more since it made the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 over the last two years.
Lots of people have talked about Georgia State because Driesell is taking his fourth different school to the Big Dance. Let me tell you, the Panthers can flat-out play. Start with the guards, transfers from big-name programs. Shernard Long came from Georgetown while Kevin Morris left Georgia Tech. They are seasoned veterans, used to pressure. Thomas Terrell, the 6-foot-7 MVP of the TAAC tournament, can score and rebound.

Georgia State plays solid defense and faced a respectable schedule that included Georgia and Creighton. Remember, Georgia State beat the Bulldogs in the season opener.

I don't consider Gonzaga a sleeper any more since it made the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 over the last two years. Mark Few's team is dangerous with a healthy Dan Dickau in the backcourt and Casey Cavalry up front.

Iona is back in the Dance and Jeff Ruland's team has experience and desire. The Rebels of Mississippi could have a tough test in the opener.

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