Which One? SI's Complete Bracket Breakdown

March 22, 2004

No longer tantalized by the seasonlong quest for perfection (nice
try, Saint Joseph's and Stanford), college hoops fans can take
heart: One team will run the table over the next six games. Yet
never before has that champion been so hard to predict. No fewer
than six teams have held the No. 1 ranking this season, and a
dozen more seem capable of raising the trophy on April 5 in San
Antonio.

In some ways, certainly, the winds of change blow stronger than
ever. Two tiny Jesuit schools, St. Joe's and Gonzaga, have
genuine chances of winning it all. Meanwhile, the last time we
witnessed a tournament without at least one of the
following--Georgetown, Indiana, St. John's and UCLA--was 1966.

Today's college game is one of constant turnover and one-year
wonders (see: Carmelo Anthony). And so it's worth asking: Is the
NCAA tournament at a historical crossroads? Did Syracuse's run
from preseason anonymity to 2003 titlist herald an era of
roulette-wheel uncertainty in the brackets? Or was it merely a
one-year aberration, with dominating center Emeka Okafor (right)
leading consensus preseason pick Connecticut to this year's
championship? Fearlessly plunging into the murk, SI has doped out
the field on the following pages. Perfection, as we've learned,
may be impossible to attain, with one exception: the glorious
ritual of the tournament itself.

ST. LOUIS

1 KENTUCKY
16 LEHIGH*

8 WASHINGTON
9 UAB

5 PROVIDENCE
12 PACIFIC

4 KANSAS
13 ILLINOIS-CHICAGO

6 BOSTON COLLEGE
11 UTAH

3 GEORGIA TECH
14 NORTHERN IOWA

7 MICHIGAN STATE
10 NEVADA

2 GONZAGA
15 VALPARAISO

KENTUCKY
Play-in winner exits with 1-1 mark
WASHINGTON
High-flying sprite Robinson outplays Finley

PROVIDENCE
Game-breaker Gomes averts Tigers' upset
KANSAS
Flames have no match for ascendant Simien

UTAH
Smooth Aussie Bogut dwarfs short Eagles
GEORGIA TECH
Tall, athletic Jackets ban UNI from boards

MICHIGAN STATE
Mercurial Davis shows up against Pack
GONZAGA
High-octane Zags singe D-less Crusaders

KENTUCKY
Cool-under-fire Wildcats eliminate upstart Huskies using smarts,
experience and wicked team defense
KANSAS
Home crowd and postseason experience make the difference as KU
dispatches one-man-gang Friars

GEORGIA TECH
Plodding Utes don't have the jets or scoring chops to match
Tech's speedy backcourt, led by Jack and Elder
GONZAGA
Beefy Bulldogs avenge 2001 NCAA loss to Spartans by (surprise!)
outmuscling MSU on the boards

KENTUCKY
Wildcats are undefeated when Fitch scores at least 20; look for
at least that many as UK outshoots clanging KU from the perimeter
GONZAGA
Stepp edges Elder in old-fashioned shootout while big-game
specialist Turiaf dominates international battle down low with
Schenscher

E. RUTHERFORD

1 SAINT JOSEPH'S
16 LIBERTY

8 TEXAS TECH
9 UNC CHARLOTTE

5 FLORIDA
12 MANHATTAN

4 WAKE FOREST
13 VCU

6 WISCONSIN
11 RICHMOND

3 PITTSBURGH
14 CENTRAL FLORIDA

7 MEMPHIS
10 SOUTH CAROLINA

2 OKLAHOMA STATE
15 EASTERN WASHINGTON

SAINT JOSEPH'S
Flames' guards fall well below Hawks'
UNC CHARLOTTE
Battle-tested 49ers lock down Emmett

MANHATTAN
Game-breaker Flores slays soft Gators

WAKE FOREST
Paul takes Walker in rookie PG showdown

WISCONSIN
Badgers' "Swing" offense stymies Spiders
PITTSBURGH
Panthers run roughshod over Knights

MEMPHIS
Burks validates buzz, 'Cocks succumb
OKLAHOMA STATE
Cool-hand Lucas dissects Eagles

SAINT JOSEPH'S
Dis Hawks at your own risk; player of year Nelson and West sink
49ers with offensive onslaught
WAKE FOREST
Jaspers' height deficiency (no player taller than 6'7") opens
space inside for Deacons' Williams, Levy, Danelius

WISCONSIN
Holy home job: Panthers punished with No. 3 seed and pro-Badgers
game site in Milwaukee
OKLAHOMA STATE
Sutton's streaking Cowboys defend better than anyone error-prone
Tigers faced in Conference USA

WAKE FOREST
When Wake's Williams comes to play, Deacs roll (see UNC, Duke);
it says here he will, taking advantage of Hawks' weakness inside
WISCONSIN
Big Ten player of year Harris unleashes full arsenal as Badgers
baffle OSU with guard post-ups and big men firing treys

GONZAGA
Bulldogs' inside strength (Turiaf, Violette) is too much for
size-and depth-challenged Wildcats, whose main man inside is
(gulp) 6'6" Hayes
WISCONSIN
Experience counts as Badgers (starting four upperclassmen) oust
callow Wake (no scholarship seniors), winning respect for
much-maligned Big Ten

ATLANTA

1 DUKE
16 ALABAMA STATE

8 SETON HALL
9 ARIZONA

5 ILLINOIS
12 MURRAY STATE

4 CINCINNATI
13 EAST TENNESSEE STATE

6 NORTH CAROLINA
11 AIR FORCE

3 TEXAS
14 PRINCETON

7 XAVIER
10 LOUISVILLE

2 MISSISSIPPI STATE
15 MONMOUTH

DUKE
Blue Devils take it easy after ACC loss
ARIZONA
Shakur outduels PG foe Barrett

ILLINOIS
Racers love to run, Illini do it better
EAST TENNESSEE STATE
Bucs' backcourt bounces Bearcats

NORTH CAROLINA
Falcons at home but Heels fly by
TEXAS
Improved Klotz too clutch for Tigers

LOUISVILLE
Garcia's threes are cure for Cards' ills
MISSISSIPPI STATE
Hawks are overpowered, overmatched

DUKE
Wildcats can run with the Devils, but they don't have the size or
depth to put them away
EAST TENNESSEE STATE
Tiny Tim Smith is big man on campus after Bucs take advantage of
cold-shooting Illinois guards

TEXAS
Tar Heels hang with Horns' starters but get worn out by ready
reserves, snuffing Duke-UNC matchup
MISSISSIPPI STATE
Stud forward Roberts exposes the Cards, whose quickness can't
compensate for weakness up front

DUKE
Slumping Redick regains his range when Buccaneers have to pick
their poison: Defend J.J. or Blue Devils' big men?
TEXAS
State's strong, crafty Bowers lights up most defenders, but
Longhorns' Ivey is just the man to collar this Dog

PHOENIX

1 STANFORD
16 TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO

8 ALABAMA
9 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

5 SYRACUSE
12 BYU

4 MARYLAND
13 UTEP

6 VANDERBILT
11 WESTERN MICHIGAN

3 N.C. STATE
14 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

7 DEPAUL
10 DAYTON

2 CONNECTICUT
15 VERMONT

STANFORD
Cardinal is roadblock for Roadrunners
ALABAMA
Salukis' tough D can't stem Tide

SYRACUSE
Orangemen's 2-3 zones Cougars out
MARYLAND
Surging Terps outscrap upstart Miners

WESTERN MICHIGAN
Commodores can't handle Broncos' Reed
N.C. STATE
Hodge and Co. show ULL the back door

DEPAUL
Coach Leitao advances to face old boss
CONNECTICUT
Coppenrath's comeback, alas, ends here

STANFORD
Davis's return to health causes matchup problems for 'Bama team
that has been weak on the boards
SYRACUSE
Both teams misfire, but hard-to-guard Warrick is difference as
'03 champ edges '02 winner

WESTERN MICHIGAN
Broncs, who led MAC in scoring, field goal percentage and
rebounding margin, beat Wolfpack inside and out
CONNECTICUT
Undersized Holland struggles and Blue Demons have no answer for
Gordon, who is Gentle Ben no more

STANFORD
'Cuse can only go so far without PG Edelin, while Cardinal has a
leader nonpareil in vastly underrated Hernandez
CONNECTICUT
Huskies' poor foul shooting would be a problem if Broncos weren't
so overmatched inside against Okafor, Villanueva and Boone

DUKE
Devils beat Texas by 28 in December; this one is closer, but the
difference is still at point guard, where Duke has Duhon and the
Horns don't have Ford
CONNECTICUT
As in the regular season Stanford can't complete a perfect run;
racehorse Huskies force a frenetic, up-and-down pace that makes
the Cardinal pay the price for its lack of speed

GONZAGA
Sacre bleu! Frenchman Turiaf turns Badgers bigs into hors
d'oeuvres while Zags defensive ace Knight locks down prolific
Harris in back-and-forth affair
CONNECTICUT
Rematch of '99 title game yields same result; Devils are toast
when big man Williams gets into foul trouble, and Taliek Brown
shows why winning is a PG's best stat

WINNER

CONNECTICUT
An evenly contested final between two of the nation's most
complete teams turns on a scoring spurt by the Huskies' Gordon,
Okafor's intimidation and Calhoun's cool head

* LEHIGH WILL BEAT FLORIDA A&M IN NCAA PLAY-IN GAME

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN COLOR PHOTOMONTAGE: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ED TRUSCIO PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK (3); JOHN BIEVER (1); BILL FRAKES (1); DAVID E. KLUTHO (4); JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (4); MANNY MILLAN (6); BOB ROSATO (6); DAMIAN STROHMEYER (1); AL TIELEMANS (7); AP (28); ICON/SMI (13); CBS (2); WIREIMAGE.COM (2); GETTY IMAGES (2); NEIL BRAKE (1); STEVE BUHMAN/SIU (1); DARREN CARROLL (1); MIRKO ILIC (1); STANLEY LEARY (1); REUTERS (I); LES SCHOFER (1); DAVE SCOFIELD (1); DAVE STLUKA (1); STEVE WOLTMANN/UIC (1); ADDITIONAL GATEFOLD PICTURES BY JOHN BIEVER (1); BILL FRAKES (2); MANNY MILLAN (1); GREG NELSON (1); BOB ROSATO (2); DAMIAN STROHMEYER (1); REUTERS (1)

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)