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Need help with your bracket?
High school coach offers tips for scoring a slam dunk in your NCAA tournament office pool.

LEE WOOLF
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Date published: 3/16/2005

By LEE WOOLF

IF BASKETBALL is not your game, or if you think March Madness might be a seasonal cow disease, then you are excused from the rest of today's column.

I'll see you next week.

For everyone else, I'm offering professional help in solving the most pressing problem in every workplace in Stafford County this week--how to win an NCAA basketball pool.

In case you think I'm guilty of double drivel, let me make it clear that by "professional" help, I don't mean mine. Even during the years I was this newspaper's sports editor, my NCAA bracket never struck fear in the heart of anyone connected with our newsroom pool.

The expert information I offer today comes from Brooke Point High School coach Craig Woods, who presently ranks as the King of Hoops in Stafford County.

Woods' girls team at Brooke Point finished the recent season at 20-2 and won both the Commonwealth District regular-season and tournament titles. In addition, he was voted by his colleagues the league's coach of the year. Next fall, he will coach the boys team at the new Mountain View High School.

Woods did his homework and was ready with his picks when we spoke on Monday morning. He also offered a coach's perspective on why some teams will flourish in this month's NCAA spotlight, while others will wilt.

So, grab your bracket, and let's dance.

There are always a few surprises in the first round. And Woods' bracket suggested some possibilities.

He picked several underdogs: UCLA over Texas Tech, Creighton over West Virginia, Old Dominion over Michigan State, New Mexico over Villanova and Saint Mary's over Southern Illinois.

Fans of coach Bobby Knight might be surprised that Woods would pick against Knight's Texas Tech team.

"So much of his success is based on good preparation," Woods said of the legendary Knight. "But it's tougher to prepare for new teams on short notice like you have to do in the tournament."

In the Chicago regional, Woods likes Illinois, Boston College, Arizona and Oklahoma State in the semifinals. He has Illinois and Oklahoma State reaching the regional final and then Oklahoma State advancing to the Final Four.


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