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Bracket Watch: Where we all become curmudgeons for the next few days

hate

Hate these four men over the next two days for the good of the world.

I'm running on about four hours of sleep at this point, so I, like most people in the state of Connecticut, are still feeling the effects of last night's marathon.

But while my eyes are still bleary, and I'll probably fall asleep in the middle of the second semifinal game tonight along with the rest of the women's basketball fans, the sting from the loss is all but over.

Don't get me wrong, it sucked and everything. Especially since UConn had approximately 17 chances to put it away. But it's okay. I've come to terms with the fact that Jeff Adrien just hates us all.

Besides, since everyone else is busy listening to Dashboard, I'm willing to be the voice of reason for once and tell you it's probably best to just pretend it never happened. That always works.

And things are already somewhat okay. Thanks to state of college basketball this season, UConn is still projected to land a No. 1 seed, along with North Carolina, Pitt and Louisville.

Unfortunately, of those four, the Huskies are the most likely to get bumped down. The Tar Heels seem like a lock, even if they don't win the ACC tourney. And even though UConn finished the season with only one fewer win than Pitt, the Panthers' two wins over the Huskies has to put them ahead of us.

Although ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi says we won't be downgraded for Friday night's loss to the color Orange, UConn has now dropped two straight and the loss of Jerome Dyson probably makes us look bad in the committee's eyes. (Obviously they haven't seen the magnificent wardrobe Dyson's displayed this week.)

Losses by Kansas and Oklahoma eliminates any threat of a last-second heist by the Big 12, but there are still a few teams that could steal a top slot over the weekend.

I usually wouldn't fuss over seeds too much, especially since UConn's road record is damn impressive. But without Dyson, and now that all the flaws I complained about months ago are starting to worsen, our draw will be more important than any other year.

So after the jump, we'll look at the four teams to focus your hatred on this weekend while you sit around waiting for Selection Sunday. Because you know you'll at least watch a game or two, and you need something to root for/against.

LOUISVILLE

Louisville is probably the biggest hurdle UConn has to overcome.

It doesn't matter what type of nonsensical argument Coach Cal throws out to defend the league, there's probably no way three teams from the Big East earn top seeds. And if U of L wins both the conference regular-season and tournament titles, you'd have to think they're in, even though aside from UConn, their losses (Western Kentucky, Minnesota, UNLV, blown out by Notre Dame) look pretty bad. Losing to an amorphous blob by 14 is never a good thing.

But then again, Minnesota and UNLV are being viewed as bubble teams now, thanks to Tubby Smith and the ghost of Larry Johnson, so maybe they aren't crushing blows.

And if Louisville wins out, it would head into the NCAAs with 10 straight wins, both titles in the best conference in the country (yeah, I said it) and four wins in as many days against solid competition.

Although it sucks to root against a conference opponent that's not Pitt or Syracuse -- especially one that was nice enough to step aside when we played them -- it's feast or famine and they're transplants anyway.

MICHIGAN STATE

Despite banning the three-point shot and playing with balls sewn together, the Big Ten is still considered a major college basketball conference. And as a result, its top team is getting top-seed consideration.

Unfortunately, accusing Michigan State of not having SEC speed will not work here, and its numbers are good enough that a win in the Big Ten tournament could potentially vault them ahead of us.

State is eighth in strength of schedule and holds the fourth-best RPI. Its losses to North Carolina and Maryland don't look bad because of the name recognition, and some see conference losses to Northwestern and Penn State as okay because they're technically bubble teams (lies!).

Aside from SOS, all of UConn's numbers are just as good at the Spartans', and three of our four losses have come against top-25 teams. But then again, Michigan State is 4-1 against the top 25 whereas UConn is just 4-3, so it all depends on your point of view (and by that I mean manipulation of the stats).

My point of view is that UConn rules, but I don't think that will be brought up in the committee meetings. Still, I think even with a Big Ten conference title, Michigan State's body of work won't top UConn's.

But let's not leave anything up to chance, so proceed with the hate.

MEMPHIS

I've already been over all the problems I have with Memphis, and it seems like it's kind of pointless to argue against them at this point.

Despite only one actual win (Tennessee), Memphis has compiled enough aesthetically pleasing Ws that they're a virtual lock to take a one seed if they win the Conference USA tourney. If the basketball gods love us, that will not happen. But since they haven't been too kind lately, I doubt that.

So hate Memphis just because Jon Calipari is trying to steal Coach Cal's nickname and because they kind of ruin the whole bracket system - can we just annex them already? But focus most of your powers on Louisville, because the Tigers will almost certainly bump either us or the Cards.

DUKE

This one should be easy.

If you live in Connecticut and don't hate Duke, you don't love America.

Hate them because Christian Laettner still exists, hate them because they flop more than Vlade, hate them because Dick Vitale thinks they're an NBA team and hate them because we all have pent-up aggression sometimes and it can be therapeutic to hate things that are pure evil.

For this week, we have the added bonus of hating them because they may take a No. 1 seed from you if they win the ACC tourney, and you need to feed your children.

So everyone make sure to do your part, and go Huskies ... when they play next week.