Giving a recent speech about healthcare reform in Ohio, President Barack Obama quickly won over the crowd by discussing topics dear to citizen’s hearts. No, it was not out of control insurance costs, but Evan Turner, the Ohio State Buckeyes star poised to take his team deep into the NCAA Tournament. A shrewd move by the First Fan; no one cares about politics in March, at least not during the “Madness.” Last week, we gave you tips on filling out a winning bracket; today we toe the line and offer our picks.
For the casual observer, Cinderella crashing the big dance is the most intriguing part of the tournament. If you too, root for the underdog, this could be a fun March, as we see a possibility for many upsets. Of course, this is less enjoyable if you are a bookie or failed to make the pick. Don’t get caught by these bracket busters.
Minnesota: Our boldest pick, we see UM topping Xavier and then Pitt. This is exactly the high risk pick we warned against in our last tourney article, but we can’t help ourselves. No matter who they play (Minnesota or Xavier), Pitt loses in the second round.
BYU: Staying in the West, we are placing the #7 seed Cougars into the Great 8, besting Florida, Kansas St. and Minnesota. BYU has a great, up-tempo offense (83 points per game), led by guard Jimmer Fredette (21.7 ppg). Scoring and strong guard play are always keys for tourney success.
UTEP: Every year it seems a 12 seed sends a 5 seed home in the first round. This year there might be a couple, starting with UTEP over Butler. A terrible draw for Butler, it seems much of the nation has already written them off. We agree. UTEP’s big men will give Butler too much trouble. The former Cinderella will be going home early. We see UTEP’s run ending against Vandy, though that game could go either way. (We also like #12 Cornell over #5 Temple, though less assuredly…)
Wisconsin: A #4 seed advancing is not usually big news, unless it comes against someone like #1 Kentucky. Yes, UK is a tremendously talented team, but they are very young. Their youth has allowed squads with a quarter of the same talent to keep games close to the very end. Wisconsin’s brutal, beat-you-up style of play will slow the game and expose the Wildcat’s age. In fact we see psychotic UK star Demarcus Cousins getting tossed from the game after berating refs for allowing the physical play. Kudos to the ref that does this, Cousins is a frightening dude.
If you go 6 of 8 to the Great Eight, 3 of 4 to the Final Four and then pick the National Champion, you have a great chance of winning your bracket, no matter if you missed some early round picks. These are the teams you need to advance.
Kansas: 1 and 2 seed cruise through the Midwest as the region pretty much holds chalk.
Ohio State: see Kansas.
Syracuse: Dominate Big East squad runs into little trouble, allowing Arinze Onuaku to rest for final 4.
BYU: see Upsets.
Wisconsin: Big win of UK puts them here. see Upsets.
West Virginia: Not much resistance for the Big East Champions.
Duke: Easy road for the team everyone loves to hate.
Baylor: Good win over a vulnerable Villanova gets the Bears here.
Plenty of NBA Lottery picks in this group of games. Sit back and enjoy.
Kansas over Ohio State: Obama’s boy Evan Turner will not be enough for a deeper, more experienced Kansas team. Again, no upset in this division as we side with Coach Bill Self and his mature, battle tested squad.
Syracuse over BYU: The Cougars holy run ends here. Syracuse has looked impressive all year battling the ridiculously tough Big East. Coach Jim Boeheim (NCAA’s Eeyore. Has he ever said anything positive about his team?) has been to 3 national championships, so he understands how to handle his team deep in the tourney. The Cougars find themselves in these types of games…well, less regularly.
West Virginia over Wisconsin: Way to go Badgers, for making it this far. Da’Sean Butler (all he does is hit game winners) and the Mountaineers, though, will prove too much for the Big Ten Bruiser. West Virginia has worked very hard to win its first Big East title, and they playing very well right now.
Baylor over Duke: Both of these teams are a product of their weak region. We think each would struggle against the other Great Eight members. Head to head, though, we are going with Baylor. Do we, like most of the nation, root for Duke to lose? Maybe, but mostly we feel Duke has not been tested, playing in a down ACC, like Baylor, member of the Big 12, has. Also, the game will be played in Houston, a 3.5 hour drive from Waco, Baylor’s home. Who do you think the crowd will root for?
Kansas over Syracuse: A tremendous match-up of players and coaches. These two #1 seeds should put on a good show, but in the end, Kansas will advance to the championship game.
West Virginia over Baylor: Finally, Baylor finds itself outclassed. A favorable path allowed them to one of last 4 standing, but West Virginia is just too good of a team. The scary thing about WV for tournament opponents is that they are a bad shooting team, yet somehow they win games. How? They limit turnovers and get offensive rebounds, excellent stats for tourney success.
And the winner is….
Kansas will take home the trophy this year. West Virginia is hungry for more hardware, but they will encounter an opponent they cannot best. Kansas began the year as many’s top team, ended the pre-tourney season ranked #1 and now they prove themselves worthy. The Jayhawks are good on offense and defense. They have senior leadership and top-notch guard play. KU’s coach, Bill Self, was the same guy at the helm when they won 2 years ago. It is pretty easy to see why they are the favorite. It pains us to go with the top team, but we don’t see it falling any other way.
When you dominate the bracket, remember to gloat like a Gentleman. You’re welcome.