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Net Results SI's Complete Bracket Picks for 2003

March 24, 2003
March 24, 2003

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March 24, 2003

Net Results SI's Complete Bracket Picks for 2003

Now that we know that seniors are the key to tournament success,
let's forget it, along with every other easy assumption about
what to expect over the next three weeks. After a season of
unpredictable tumult on and off the court, the postseason, too,
resists doping out. The NCAA field welcomed more first-timers,
seven, than in any year since 1986. An in-season No. 1, Alabama,
just squeaked in. And seven of the Top 10 teams lost in their
conference tournaments. Small wonder that NCAA committee members
threw up their hands last Saturday, adjourning till some of the
uncertainty sorted itself out. ¶ Against the backdrop of war,
there'll be tight security at every site, including a rule that
fans can't return to a session once they've left. But who'll want
to leave? The first two rounds alone will deliver something
unforgettable. They always do. And so the SI college hoops staff
has looked through the haze to see who will have earned the right
to party the hardest on Bourbon Street. Our picks are bared for
all to see on the following pages.

This is an article from the March 24, 2003 issue Original Layout

THE BRACKETS
In last year's Sweet 16, Sooners punished Cats inside. This time
'Zona lords over boards to deliver Olson's second crown

MIDWEST

[Rd.1]

1 KENTUCKY
16 IUPUI

8 OREGON
9 UTAH

5 WISCONSIN
12 WEBER STATE

4 DAYTON
13 TULSA

6 MISSOURI
11 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

3 MARQUETTE
14 HOLY CROSS

7 INDIANA
10 ALABAMA

2 PITT
15 WAGNER

[Rd.2]

KENTUCKY
IU might. PU might. But Jags? No way
OREGON
Two Lukes plus frontline depth beat Utes

WEBER STATE
Boyette leads nation's other hot Wildcats
DAYTON
Flyers get nod for balance and chemistry

MISSOURI
Tigers depend less on three than last year
MARQUETTE
Crusaders slow but can't stop Wade & Co.

ALABAMA
Ebbing Tide wins game of undeservings
PITT
Panthers have more brawn, more savvy

[Rd.3/Sweet Sixteen]

KENTUCKY
Ducks can bang with big Cats, but UK's Smothers Brothers
backcourt locks up Jackson and Ridnour
WEBER STATE
In battle of the balanced, Big Sky champs spread scoring around a
smidgen better and run streak to 19

MISSOURI
Best second-round show: Paulding plays Wade even, and Johnson
gets better of Jackson around basket
PITT
Academics finally come to SEC: Nation's most willing passers give
'Bama grad-level chemistry lesson

[Rd.4/Elite Eight]

KENTUCKY
Somebody's streak ends in the Twin Cities, and it isn't Big
Blue's. Weber's bid to repeat its '99 Carolina upset doesn't
happen

PITT
Compared with mercurial Mizzou, Panthers are so disciplined that
they rarely launch anything as reckless as a turnaround J

[Rd.5/Final Four]

PITT

Panthers grab and protect early lead with guard play to match
UK's, as Howland-to-UCLA talk clogs SoCal airwaves on eve of
Final Four

WEST

[Rd.1]

1 ARIZONA
16 VERMONT

8 CINCINNATI
9 GONZAGA

5 NOTRE DAME
12 WIS.-MILWAUKEE

4 ILLINOIS
13 WESTERN KENTUCKY

6 CREIGHTON
11 CENTRAL MICHIGAN

3 DUKE
14 COLORADO STATE

7 MEMPHIS
10 ARIZONA STATE

2 KANSAS
15 UTAH STATE

[Rd.2]

ARIZONA
UVM coach--radio host runs into static
CINCINNATI
Bearcats defense locks down Bulldogs

WIS.-MILWAUKEE
Slumping Irish exposed on D, boards
WESTERN KENTUCKY
Hot 'Toppers sink green Illini with threes

CREIGHTON
Korver vs. Kaman? Pivots shrink in NCAAs
DUKE
How did Rams win Mountain West bid?

MEMPHIS
Massie lights up porous Sun Devils
KANSAS
Prolific KU blitzes slow-moving Aggies

[Rd.3/Sweet Sixteen]

ARIZONA
Brick-throwing Bearcats go cold against deep Arizona D, lose in
Round 2 for fifth time in six years
WIS.-MILWAUKEE
Panthers' frenetic ball-hawking defense causes nightmare for
careless Hilltoppers backcourt

CREIGHTON
Notre Dame's Brey calls Bluejays "this year's Kent State."
Turnover-prone Duke learns the hard way
KANSAS
Tigers boss Calipari trademarked REFUSE TO LOSE. Collison,
Hinrich give KU right of first refusal

[Rd.4/Elite Eight]

ARIZONA
It's win-win: Panthers earn tournament darling label, Cats enjoy
harmless dry run before Elite Eight showdown with KU
KANSAS
Creighton loses when Korver struggles. Jayhawks defenders are
tougher than anything he saw in the Missouri Valley

[Rd.5/Final Four]

ARIZONA
Just as they did in January, nine-deep Wildcats use second-half
surge to sink paper-thin KU in showdown of top two preseason
teams

[Rd.6/Finals]

ARIZONA
As savvy as Panthers are with the pass, ballhawks Gardner and
Walton are even better at shutting down passing lanes, a skill
Lute Olson obsesses over at practice

SOUTH

[Rd.1]

1 TEXAS
16 TEXAS SOUTHERN*

8 LSU
9 PURDUE

5 CONNECTICUT
12 BRIGHAM YOUNG

4 STANFORD
13 SAN DIEGO

6 MARYLAND
11 UNC WILMINGTON

3 XAVIER
14 TROY STATE

7 MICHIGAN STATE
10 COLORADO

2 FLORIDA
15 SAM HOUSTON STATE

[Rd.2]

TEXAS
Courtney, Ford's HS coach, gets TJ'ed
LSU
Tigers' D tailor-made for PU clangers

CONNECTICUT
Huskies run middling Cougars silly
STANFORD
Card muscle neutralizes USD's bigs

MARYLAND
Terps too deep for burial by Blizzard
XAVIER
Tallest Trojan, 6'9", can't stop West

COLORADO
Tough Buffs make sloppy MSU pay
FLORIDA
SHS alum Dan Rather says: Courage

[Rd.3/Sweet Sixteen]

LSU
Tigers bounce Horns in same way they upset Arizona and Florida:
rebounding, harassing shooters
STANFORD
One-man gangs have toasted UConn defenders all season. Explosive
Julius Barnes will only be latest

XAVIER
Experience only goes so far, considering West and Sato are each
more talented than any Terrapin
FLORIDA
Gators' pressure D unnerves butter-fingered Buffs; 7footer
Harrison fails to capitalize on height advantage

[Rd.4/Elite Eight]

LSU
Sweet-shooting Tigers win 10th of 11 as Cardinal again endures
overtime heartbreak in Alamodome (see '98 Final Four)
FLORIDA
West reprises shooting struggles suffered in losses to
Mississippi State and Alabama as Gators successfully turn up
tempo

[Rd.5/Final Four]

FLORIDA
Which Nelson shows up? One scored 25 in win at LSU; the other,
three in SEC tourney loss to Tigers. We say Full Nelson, whose
shooting takes pressure off Gators' big men

EAST

[Rd.1]

1 OKLAHOMA
16 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE

8 CALIFORNIA
9 N.C. STATE

5 MISSISSIPPI STATE
12 BUTLER

4 LOUISVILLE
13 AUSTIN PEAY

6 OKLAHOMA STATE
11 PENN

3 SYRACUSE
14 MANHATTAN

7 ST. JOSEPH'S
10 AUBURN

2 WAKE FOREST
15 EAST TENNESSEE STATE

[Rd.2]

OKLAHOMA
Moses Malone Jr. can't get SCS through
CALIFORNIA
Pack faced no big men like Tamir in ACC

MISSISSIPPI STATE
Butler got bid, but other Dog has its day
LOUISVILLE
Pitino beat Peay on way to '87 Final Four

PENN
Quakers are streaking, Cowboys slumping
SYRACUSE
Anthony whups his bud, Jaspers' Minor

ST. JOSEPH'S
Overrated in '02, Hawks now sneak up
WAKE FOREST
Deacs beat Southern champs on boards

[Rd.3/Sweet Sixteen]

OKLAHOMA
In battle of treys, more errant shots carom in direction of
Sooners, playing 20 minutes from OU campus
MISSISSIPPI STATE
Ville gets no break from committee, meeting deep and balanced
team in SEC's capital city, Birmingham

PENN
Poised Ivy champs--who won 11 away from home, where 'Cuse
stumbled--shoot up Orangemen's 2--3 zone
ST. JOSEPH'S
How to beat Wake? Guard tightly but don't put Deacs on the line.
Hawks' perimeter defenders do just that

[Rd.4/Elite Eight]

OKLAHOMA
Big 12, SEC prove anew that they're cream of conference crop as
Price, Ere and White outshoot Bowers and Harper in a classic
ST. JOSEPH'S
With Big Five brethren making Albany's Pepsi Arena a
Palestra-on-Hudson, Hawks duplicate January lockdown of Quakers

[Rd.5/Final Four]

OKLAHOMA
Hawks' tendency to go cold during crucial stretches of games
costs them against explosive, battle-hardened Sooners, who reach
second straight Final Four

[Rd.6/Finals]

OKLAHOMA
Sooners draw opponent with post players they can dominate. Plus,
Big 12 tourney champs are rare team that can match the
eye-it-and-fly-it Gators trey for trey

[Rd.7/Championship]

WINNER--ARIZONA

*Texas Southern will beat UNC Asheville in NCAA play-in game

COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ED TRUSCIO;TYPOGRAPHY BY MIRKO ILIC;PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK; JOHN BIEVER (3); DAVID E. KLUTHO (5); JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (3); MANNY MILLAN (7); BOB ROSATO (5); DAMIAN STROHMEYER; GREG NELSON (2); JOE IMEL; BRETT HANSBAUER/BRSP; MONIKA GRAFF/STATEN ISLAND ADVOCATE; BRENT SMITH; KEITH DORRIS; DREW HALLOWELL; LOU CAPOZZOLA; LARRY SMITH/ETSU; AP (24); ICON/SMI (5); GETTY IMAGES (4); REUTERS (2); UPI (2) [COVER] 2003 NCAA Tournament MARCH MADNESS Where's your team?COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY MIRKO ILIC