Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Bracket

(Click to enlarge)
Most of your bracket deadlines have probably already passed, and you probably don't want my advice anyway, but here's a look at my bracket. There's no exact science to picking a bracket, but I've got a feeling that there is a clear-enough separation of tiers that the old lady in your office probably won't win the pool this year.

I've gone with the bold choice of three No. 1s and one No. 2 in my Final Four: Kentucky, MSU, North Carolina and Ohio State. If you care, Justin Verlander has MSU winning it all and Michigan getting upset by Ohio in his bracket.

With that, here's a brief breakdown of my picks each region.

South: Kentucky

Again, nothing unexpected here. I'd imagine more than 95 percent of brackets out there have Kentucky winning the region. The Wildcats are clearly the top team out there. It's Big Blue's tournament to lose. Other notable teams, I have Wichita State reaching the Sweet 16. A lot of people are thinking VCU in the first round because of last season, but the Shockers are probably under-seeded as a No. 5. In the Sweet 16, I've got Baylor over Duke. I think the Bears found their game in the Big 12 Tournament, and I don't think Duke's guard-oriented gameplay will be disrupted by Baylor's length and size.

West: MSU

You can read my more-detailed region breakdown here. As I mentioned before, I think Memphis might actually be the toughest test on the road to the Final Four for MSU, if Memphis wins its first game. Long Beach State has been a popular mid-major this season, and I think Louisville got over-seeded as a No. 4. People are overvaluing this season's awful Big East Tournament. With Murray State playing two games in its home state, I've got the Racers reaching the Sweet 16. By most accounts, this region will be either MSU or Mizzou. I have MSU's size and scouting report giving the Spartans the edge (Izzo has lost three games on second game of a weekend in 14 Tournaments).

East: Ohio State

This region was already a crapshoot. I didn't trust Syracuse before the Fab Melo news, and now I don't give them a chance. The problem is, I don't trust any of these teams. Ohio State's lack of depth seems to result in the Buckeyes sputtering in the Tournament, Vanderbilt has a history of being upset, we know Bo Ryan's history in the Tournament and Florida State has trouble scoring. Eventually, I went with Vandy over Syracuse because of its ability to hit the outside shot against the zone and Ohio State over Florida State because of scoring options; then Ohio State to reach the Final Four. The Buckeyes still don't have much depth, but Evan Ravenel has come on recently, and the Buckeyes have enough of a talent edge to make it to New Orleans.

Midwest: North Carolina

This region will come down to two teams: UNC and Kansas. I had a hard time picking between the two, but went with UNC because of history. Elsewhere in the region, I have N.C. State over San Diego State and Purdue over Saint Mary's as the "second-round" upsets. I was really close to picking USF over Temple after seeing the Bulls on Wednesday night against Cal, but have Michigan advancing to the Sweet 16 anyway. Again, it was really hard to pick between UNC and Kansas, and I think the winner of that will make the title game, so I don't have a ton of confidence in that UNC pick. My Wall Street Journal blindfold bracket had me picking Kansas to win it all, although it seems almost everyone has picked Kansas in that setting.

National championship: Kentucky over North Carolina

Again, I know it's bold. These teams played down to the wire in Lexington early in the season and they're the two most-talented teams in the nation. Eventually John Calipari has to win it, right? If not for Mario Chalmers' prayer, we wouldn't even have Calipari's reputation of being more of a recruiter than a coach. Still, there are so many good players on Kentucky, and this reminds me of 2009 North Carolina, which has so much more talent than everyone else and was upset in its conference tournament. Kentucky's loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament will give the Wildcats an edge that will take them to the top.

Also, here is my annual coin-flip bracket. Now, before you say this thing has no chance, my coin-flip bracket last year had VCU in the national championship, so, yeah.

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