As I said in my Selection Sunday Reaction post, Ohio State didn’t get much of a reward for being the best team all season. Kentucky is certainly better than a 4-seed, and Syracuse is battle-tested. I have Syracuse beating Carolina, who won’t be able to shoot well enough to exploit that zone. I think John Calipari has plenty of ammunition to work his “they don’t respect us” angle that worked so well at Memphis, and will knock off Ohio State early. Syracuse beats Kentucky to advance to Houston.
I had been mentally preparing myself for Duke to be set up with another weak bracket, disguised by playing out west. I was right that they’d get San Diego State, but wrong that their bracket would be weak. If Texas can get out of its own way in the first two games, they could be a challenge for Duke. And if UConn gets there, Nolan vs. Kemba would be fit for pay-per-view. I have K finally getting some revenge against Calhoun for 1999 and 2004, and getting the Lubed Evils back to the Final Four. If Duke gets there, people like me won’t be able to say they got a cakewalk this time.
The committee doesn’t set up made-for-TV moments huh? Right. We all look forward to Bill Self vs. Illinois in the second round (assuming Kansas finally exorcises its “first-round opponent that start with B” demons). I have Kansas beating Louisville to get to the Elite Eight and Purdue slipping by Notre Dame. (As an aside, I have a rule these days that requires me to never trust Vanderbilt or Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. If my predicting ability in the past is any guide, you’ll see Vandy and Notre Dame square off in the Elite Eight.) Anyway, Kansas skates by Purdue relatively easily to get to the Final Four.
The committee thought they had put together a bracket even Pitt couldn’t screw up. Clearly, they underestimate Pitt’s abilities to avoid the Final Four. This region is the home to my biggest upsets – which are relatively few and far between in my bracket this season. I have Belmont beating defense-averse Wisconsin, then beating Utah State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen where Pitt finishes them off. On the other side I have Florida taking out BYU. (Upset alert: Gonzaga upsets a dinged-up St. John’s team before falling to the Stormin’ Mormons.) Florida edges Pitt to reach its first Final Four since 2007, and more importantly, denying Pitt its first Final Four since the FDR administration.
Duke hits its threes and beats Syracuse. Kansas races past Florida. Kansas’ frontcourt proves too much for the Plumlees in an intriguing matchup between Coach Hair Dye and Coach Toupee. Kansas is your 2011 national champion, and Carolina fans won’t give a shit about Roy Williams wearing a Jayhawk sticker this time.
Enjoy the tournament. And remember: never, under any circumstances, pick an ACC team not named Duke or UNC to advance past the second round.