SNIDER: Not a whole lot of shaking going on in the dance


Arizona wins the NCAA Tournament. Mark it down. UCLA loses in the final. Houston and Memphis make it to the Final Four. The Big Dance isn't inviting Cinderella this year.

Oh, Memphis might have a glass slipper in its locker room, but the No. 8 seed has enough history not to be confused with long shots like Kennesaw State or Howard. This Final Four sticks with traditional powers.

Maryland? Well, the No. 8 Terrapins can slip past favored No. 9 West Virginia in the first round, but they're doomed against top-seeded Alabama in the South Regional's second round. It has been a good rebuilding year for Maryland and a tourney win would be a nice achievement. But, the Terps just don't have the offense to advance.

And Howard? The No. 16 Bison were rewarded with their first tournament appearance since 1992 by facing the same team again – No. 1 Kansas. The Jayhawks won 100-67 last time, but the Bison's 22-12 season has them better prepared for Thursday. The previous meeting saw a losing Howard team win the MEAC Tournament with no real business making the NCAAs. This time, Howard doesn't need to apologize for being there. It just won't last long.

Indeed, the only regional team that should make the Sweet 16 is Virginia. The Cavaliers can beat Furman in the first round and probably San Diego State in the second. Indeed, Virginia can even score an upset over Alabama to reach the Elite Eight before losing to Arizona.

Arizona wins the South, then beats East Regional winner Memphis to reach the final. UCLA takes the West over Connecticut before beating Midwest Regional winner Houston. Arizona beat UCLA 61-59 for the Pac-12 championship, so the Wildcats get the nod.

Looking for a few bracket-buster games? Memphis knocks off No. 1 Purdue in the second round. No. 1 Kansas seems vulnerable, but it may take until the third round before being ousted by Connecticut. That is, if VCU doesn't upset Connecticut in the second round.

Penn State can surprise Texas A&M and Texas before being eliminated by Xavier. NC State could beat Baylor in the second round if it gets by Creighton in the opener.

But this tournament might lack the traditional madness. Houston may be the only No. 1 to make the final weekend, but Arizona and UCLA are No. 2s, so it's not anarchy on the courts.

Still, if you want to throw a dollar on Howard as a 23-point underdog to Kansas . . . well, you never know.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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