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Former NCAA tournament selection committee chair Gary Walters once called the too-good-to-be-true pairings that the bracket produces the "serendipity of the tournament."
Roy Williams might use another word in three weeks.
|Roy Williams could face his former team in San Antonio.|
The dadgum fan might reach into his adjective repertoire from his interview with Bonnie Bernstein circa 2003 to describe the path his top-seeded Tar Heels are on thanks to serendipity. If the seeds hold, the national semifinal would pit No. 1 overall seed North Carolina against Midwest Region No. 1 seed Kansas, the team Williams had just led to the national final when Bernstein asked him if he might bolt for his alma mater.
Williams didn't take too kindly to the question, you might remember, and since he traded Lawrence for Chapel Hill, Jayhawk fans haven't taken too kindly to Williams. "Benedict Williams" T-shirts were a hot commodity in April 2003.
But the potential Kansas-Carolina Final Four matchup on April 5 is just one of the serendipitous turns this bracket has produced.
Here's a look at a few more:
Friends turned foes: No. 6 seed USC vs. No. 11 seed Kansas State
Forget the superstudly freshmen matchup between O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley. Mayo and K-State's Bill Walker have been best friends since elementary school. The two were teammates at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati and, as you can imagine, North College Hill was pretty good. With those two on the roster, the school won two state titles and ranked among the nation's best teams. Before their senior seasons, the Ohio high school association ruled Walker had exhausted his eligibility, and Mayo bolted to Huntington High (W. Va.). The friendship, though, never suffered. In fact, the two were so tight most people figured their college choice would be a package deal. Instead, they'll be first-round foes in Omaha.
Who blinks first: No. 4 seed Washington State vs. No. 5 seed Notre Dame
Wazzu can't score and the Irish can't miss, so it will be a classic battle of wills if the two meet in the second round. The Cougars, the classic ugly-it-up team, rank third in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 56.5 points per game. Only UCLA topped 80 points against the Cougars, and only three teams topped 70 points. Notre Dame, in the meantime, averages 80.6 points, 15th in the country. The Irish's fewest points in a game is 65.
5-12 fun continues: Notre Dame vs. George Mason, Clemson vs. Villanova, Drake vs. Western Kentucky, Michigan State vs. Temple
The line where anything can happen looks again like an upset waiting to happen. George Mason will try to be this year's George Mason. Clemson is making its first tourney appearance since 1998, and Villanova is making its fourth consecutive appearance. Drake, with its walk-on turned superstar Adam Emmenecker, will need to beat Western and its future pro, Courtney Lee; Tom Izzo's schizo Spartans, a team that struggled for 36 against Iowa and poured in 103 against Indiana, plays a Temple team that hasn't lost since Feb. 23, winning its last seven.
This game, though, could come down to the most basic fundamentals: fewest clangs from the line. Memphis ranks 327th in free-throw percentage, connecting on only 59.2 percent. Pittsburgh is equally ugly at No. 231, making just 67.2.
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at email@example.com.