Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Madness: Who Makes the Final Four?

Anybody who has ever been in a bracket with me knows that I never get the Final Four right. Ever. I never really even get three of the teams right. For whatever reason, my basketball knowledge doesn't seem to extend past the first two or three rounds. My Final Four sleeper never makes it and I always sleep on one of the top seeds. That being said, nobody should put Baylor in the Final Four and I'm sure since I don't have Kentucky in, they'll win the title. But here goes:

Only the East in my bracket includes all the top four seeds in the Sweet 16. Kansas is way too talented and way too deep for Maryland, but Ohio St.-Georgetown will be an awesome game. If Chris Wright is on his game, which he has been lately with seven straight double-digit scoring games and 36 assists in those seven games, I think Georgetown will win. But if he goes back to the inconsistent ways (seven single-digit scoring games in Big East play), Ohio State will. I've never been one to trust Wright and without a big game from him, Evan Turner will find a way to win it for the Buckeyes.

Kansas is a different story. Ohio State does not have the supporting cast around Turner to match the likes of Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and the Morris'. Ohio St. was the first time off the 1-line I thought could make it, but they needed to see Duke or even Kentucky. Jayhawks to the Final Four.

This is where my bracket will be made or broken. I don't think many people have UTEP, Xavier and BYU joining Syracuse in the Sweet 16, but all three of those squads have 18+ point scorers (UTEP's Randy Culpepper, Xavier's Jordan Crawford and BYU's Jimmer Fredette) who can put a team on their back. There's usually at least one #2 that falls in the second round and this year, I think it's Kansas State.

UTEP's run will end against Syracuse, especially if Arinze Onuaku returns for the third round in Salt Lake City. BYU will use their geographical advantage to beat Xavier and Jordan Crawford's major claim to fame will remain his dunk over LeBron James over the summer. That geographical advantage won't be enough for the Cougars to down the Orange though, as Syracuse becomes the second #1 in the Final Four.

All chalk except for #6 Marquette over #3 New Mexico, and chalk will win again. As the fifth best team in the tournament and a team that would've been deserving of a top seed, West Virginia will take care of conference foe Marquette, who they beat 63-62 at home in their only regular season meeting. Kentucky is way too good to lose to Wisconsin and their toughest Sweet 16 matchup could come from Cornell if the Big Red can pull a few upsets.

Why does Duke have what seems like the easiest road to the Final Four? Outside of the bracket's weakest #2 in Villanova and an underrated #3 in Baylor, no one else has a chance here. Purdue without Robbie Hummel? Texas A&M? An overseeded Notre Dame team? Richmond? Please.

What's even sadder is that even with this gift, I don't see Duke moving beyond the Elite 8. And if Louisville can beat Cal, they may miss the Sweet 16 altogether. They are the top seed most likely to play a double-digit seed in Sweet 16 and that's exactly what I have, with them able to take care of Utah St. Baylor should've been #2 in this bracket and they will prove that with a win against Villanova.

Duke should be intimidated by these Bears, who are long and athletic and a very tough matchup for the Blue Devils. I think Duke would have a better chance at being Villanova, but Baylor has all the ingredients to take them out and reach the Final Four.

Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia, Baylor. With my luck, you can be sure at least one or two will be knocked out by the end of this weekend.

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