March 17, 2011

The #Winning March Madness picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

I might as well preface this post with the disclaimer that I usually lose NCAA pools, unless I’m facing people that are almost 100% incompetent, as opposed to the slightly lower percentage that my knowledge of U.S. college basketball sits at. So, take all of this with a grain of salt, or you could trust it as a professional’s opinion, because really, as much as you stare at your bracket, it won’t make it perfect. In fact, if you go for perfection, you’re more likely to fail – that’s the way that this tournament works.
 
East Region
Biggest upset: Marquette over Xavier — This is the only second-round match in the region where I have the underdogs winning, so this match wins by default.
Cinderellas: None that I can see from this top-heavy group.
I feel for: Clemson. They played their way in, but will fall to a superior West Virginia side.
Summary: Pretty much the closest thing to chalk I have. Many think Kentucky can knock off OSU in the Elite Eight, I think not. UNC against Syracuse should be an excellent game.
Pick: Ohio State over Syracuse.

Southwest Region
Biggest upset: Richmond over Vanderbilt — I know many have it, but I really like the Spiders’ chances against a slumping Vandy squad.
Cinderellas: Virginia Commonwealth. They’ve already won one game against a team (USC) that many (SI.com) liked to win a game or two. Plus, the Hoyas aren’t the same without Chris Wright. Even if he plays through his broken hand, he won’t be even close to 100%.
I feel for:  Purdue and USC. Suspending its great sixth man was risky and it should lead to the Boilermakers downfall. The Torjans, save for a brief comeback, were outplayed most of their game against VCU.
Summary: The Jayhawks are much better than anybody in this region and I’m not sure about Notre Dame’s road game. Could be a recipe for disaster for the Fighting Irish. Also, the Selection Committee screwed one up huge by not putting Notre Dame’s game on Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day.
Pick: Kansas over Notre Dame.

West Region
Biggest upset: Temple over SDSU or Memphis over Arizona.
Cinderellas: Temple or Memphis. No long runs in this region, but at least a few feisty upsets and possibly a couple scary third-round tilts.
I feel for: SDSU fans that could have seen their team play in the Elite Eight in Anaheim.
Summary: Picking an all No. 1s Final Four is a cardinal sin and a cheap way to play you bracket. I think Duke has the best shot to fall and UConn’s Kemba Walker has just the type of heroism to fell them. Not even Kyrie Irving and his eight games of college experience can save the Blue Devils.
Pick: UConn over Duke.

Southeast Region
Biggest upset: Belmont over Wisconsin,
Cinderellas: Belmont, Michigan State. The Bruins’ style clashes perfectly with Wisconsin in round one and could carry that momentum into round two. With weak-ish No.2 and 3 seeds, MSU could easily make the Elite Eight behind Tom Izzo’s coaching.
I feel for: Florida and BYU. The Gators are the worst No. 2 in the tournament and I’m not sure if they should be even a No. 4. They’ll surely disappoint. Brigham Young will only go as far as the Jimmer takes them, because really, they’re a one-man team and those types of squads rarely go the distance here.
Summary: The upset region.
Pick: Pitt over Michigan State
Final Four
Picks: Kansas over Pitt, Ohio State over UConn.
Championship: Ohio State over Kansas.
The top-two teams are a decent margin above the rest of the pack and should make the final. From there, Jared Sullinger can take the reigns and show why he’s being talked about so highly by NBA teams.

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