I've spent most of the morning combing over all the NCAA analysis as I attempt to fill out the East bracket, the toughest in the tournament. Most of the experts figure you've got No. 1 overall seed UNC facing No. 2 Tennessee in the fight to come out of the East. But what about some serious discussion of No. 3 Louisville? If you're still mulling over who to pick in The Sun's bracket challenge, consider the Cardinals not just a dark horse, but a serious contender, even more so than Tennessee.
As a Kentucky graduate, it pains me to make Louisville's case, but someone has to. Rick Pitino is a great tournament coach and it won't matter that the Cards are on a two game losing streak heading in. 6-foot-11-inch center David Padgett has healed enough from a broken kneecap to provide the team with the leadership it needs. They are incredibly balanced with six players averaging at least 7.9 points per game. Padgett averages 11.7 and pulls down just as many rebounds. Defensively, they are a deadly squad that held teams to just 38.3 percent (fourth in the nation) from the field. For all their talent, the Vols simply won't match up well with Louisville should the two teams meet in Sweet 16.
I wouldn't be surprised if Pitino's squad emerged as the dark horse of the East and knocked both Tennessee and UNC out of contention. The Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy makes a great point about how the team has come together. If you've got East bracket fever (and who doesn't, really) check out the breakdowns at ESPN, Chicago Sun-Times and Deadspin.