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Monday, March 17, 2008

NCAA Men's Tournament Predictions (Upsets Included!)

Here goes:

East

Play-in game: Mt. St. Mary's over Coppin State. Why? Because I have a theory that tournament wonders who have had so-so seasons flame out in the tournament. Coppin State had a Cinderella run in the MEAC, but their dancing will soon be over.

First round:

Carolina over Mt. St. Mary's. The Tar Heels will be up 25 at the half.

Arkansas over Indiana. The Razorbacks played wells in the SEC tournament, and I wonder if the Hoosiers have enough spirit left after their coaching drama played out recently.

Notre Dame over George Mason. GM got its huge moment in the sun a few years ago when it made the Final Four, and to some N.D. looks a tad slow. But they have the horses inside and can shoot it, so they'll advance.

Washington State over Winthrop. Some pundits are giddy over Winthrop's continued excellence, but WSU is from lumberjack country and throws a buzzsaw at opponents. The Cougars advance.

St. Joseph's over Oklahoma. Call me Philly-centric, but the Sooners were good if not great in a good conference. St. Joe's will win if they D up enough in the contest -- they can move the ball around on offense and score with anyone.

Louisville over Boise State. No Statue of Liberty plays available for BSU, and Rick Pitino is a fine tournament coach and knows how to play his Cards.

Butler over South Alabama. A team from Indiana must advance, mustn't it?

Tennessee over American. Another route.

Second round:

Carolina over Arkansas. Just too many horses for the Heels, who are, after all, playing in Raleigh.

Notre Dame over Washington State. These teams will maul one another, but the Irish will shoot it a little better.

Louisville over St. Joe's. Hawks have a shot and will stay with the Cards for about 33, 34 minutes, and that's when the elite teams take over.

Tennessee over Butler. This could be a great game, but the Vols are just too tough.

Sweet 16 Round

Carolina over Notre Dame. Irish aren't quick enough to stay with the Tar Heels, and if there's banging to do inside, Tyler Hansbrough is the best there is.

Tennessee over Louisville. People have downgraded the Vols, but they were 29-4 and are an excellent team. They'll prevail here.

Regional Final

Carolina over Tennessee. Another potentially great game, but the Heels' depth is just too good.

Midwest

Kansas over Portland State. A 16 has never beaten a 1, and it won't happen here.

Kent State over UNLV. Don't overlook the MAC.

Clemson over Villanova. Nova was the last at-large team to make it, and they've been inconsistent all season. If their guards excel, they could win. But Clemson is one of those teams that could steal a Final Four berth, and they're too tough to lose here.

Vanderbilt over Siena. It's a tad trendy to pick Fran McCaffrey's Siena squad, but I see no basis for the upset. Vandy comes into the tournament rested, they're fundamentally sound, and they'll win this one.

Kansas State over USC. Intriguing matchup, with Beasley on KSU and Mayo on USC, but I'll go with the big guy and Kansas State here.

Wisconsin over Cal-State Fullerton. Because of the Badgers' brawn, this could be a boxing match. If so, Wisconsin wins on a TKO.

Davidson over Gonzaga. Yes, Gonzaga made it to a regional final several years back, but Davidson is pretty tough. This could be one of the best first-round games, and Davidson wins in a slight upset.

Georgetown over UMBC. The Hoyas defend like nobody's business, and defense wins championships. Georgetown wins this one.

Second round

Kansas over Kent State. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk, and right now it's still wise to bet the chalk. Kansas wins.

Clemson over Vanderbilt. The Tigers make the most of their first appearance in the Big Dance since God knows who was president (I think Ronald Reagan). They advance.

Wisconsin over Kansas State. A physical battle is in the offing, and Wisconsin takes it.

Georgetown over Davidson. The Hoyas are too tough here.

Sweet 16 Round

Clemson over Kansas. My upset special so far, especially because a) not all #1 teams make it to the Final Four and b) so many ESPN analysts are picking the Jayhawks to win it all. Clemson played Carolina very tough -- they'll show what they're made of here.

Georgetown over Wisconsin. The Badgers could well win this game, but somehow steady Jonathan Wallace makes a key player or two down the stretch to enable the Hoyas to prevail. Imagine what he could have done had he gone to Princeton, as initially planned!

Regional Final

Clemson over Georgetown. The Tigers' magical run continues, proving that while the Big East was stronger than the ACC overall this year, the ACC's top three are about as good as it gets.

South

Memphis over Texas-Arlington. How about by 40?

Mississippi State over Oregon. The youngest Hansbrough brother contributes to the Bulldogs' victory.

Michigan State over Temple. Sorry, Seth Davis, but while Temple has played well, I think they'll have left something in the A-10 tournament. While the Big Ten didn't have a great year, Michigan State is too formidable for the Owls.

Pitt over Oral Roberts. The Panthers are on a roll.

Marquette over Kentucky. Wildcats got in on a "laundry" bid, in that the tournament committee must feel that they always belong there if they're close. Marquette wins by double digits.

Stanford over Cornell. Shows the Committee's sense of humor, pairing two brainy schools against one another. Or, it shows that the Committee is anti-intellectual. Either way, the Lopez brothers are just too tough for the Big Red.

St. Mary's over Miami. The Gaels are a good basketball team.

Texas over Austin Peay. Longhorns have had a good season, could make a deep run.

Second round

Memphis over Mississippi State. Derrick Rose and company are deep and talented and earn a trip to the Sweet 16.

Pitt over Michigan State. The Panthers are on a mission.

Marquette over Stanford. Big East beats Pac-10 the way rock beats scissors.

Texas over St. Mary's. Hard to bet against the chalk that lost to Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk! in its conference final.

Sweet 16 round

Pitt over Memphis. Both teams are tough; Memphis' poor foul shooting costs them dearly here. This is my second big upset special.

Texas over Marquette. Marquette is good, but not as good as Texas.

Regional final

Pitt over Texas. Bob Knight picked Pitt to win this region, and so do I. A quietly outstanding season for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers.

West

UCLA over Mississippi Valley State. As we said, no 16 has ever beaten a 1. . .

Texas A&M over BYU. This is a pure conference play, taking the Big 12 over the WAC.

Drake over Western Kentucky. Drake can flat out play, and they'll get the win here.

UConn over San Diego. The WCAC got three bids, but UConn is the team to beat here with its ever-improving center, Hasheem Thabeet.

Purdue over Baylor. Don't understand why the Bears got into the tournament. Boilermakers are too solid to lose here.

Xavier over Georgia. Remember my rule #1: don't pick a conference also-ran who happened to win its conference tournament. The reason: they left their magic in the conference tournament. Xavier wins this one, by serious double digits.

West Virginia over Arizona. Joe Alexander and the Mountaineers win over a Pac-10 version of Baylor.

Duke over Belmont. Coach K has won more games than any other coach in NCAA tournament history.

Second round

UCLA over Texas A&M. Ben Howland is one of the best coaches not to have won a national title. He won't lose here.

Drake over UConn. On the one hand, UConn has a lot of talent. On the other hand, they hiccup on occasion. Drake puts the "major" into mid-major and shows that winning the Missouri Valley Conference means a lot.

Purdue over Xavier. Sorry to bet againt Xavier, but many an ESPN guru has Xavier making it at least to the regional final. Take the Boilermakers in a mild surprise.

Duke over West Virginia. Devils are too disciplined not to make it to the next weekend.

Sweet 16 round

UCLA over Drake. Drake's great run ends at the hands of the Bruins.

Duke over Purdue. Blue Devils have too many weapons for the Boilermakers.

Regional final

UCLA over Duke. UCLA's talent wins out here.

Final Four

Carolina over Clemson. Heels repeat their performance in the ACC Final and beat the Tigers in a great battle.

UCLA over Pitt. Panthers make a game of it, but Bruins are just too good.

Final

Carolina over UCLA. Tar Heels, to me, are the best in the nation, and they prove it here.

As for my Final Four, I had two #1 seeds, a #4 and a #5. Remember, since the start of naming #1 seeds, there hasn't been a tournament where all #1 seeds make the Final Four.

Good luck with your picks.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never 4 #1 seeds until now... LOL.

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