Alright it's time to take a look at the last two regions just 12 hours before the first game. The two regions below are probably the two toughest to pick as I think the #1 seeds road is tougher (UNC) or their overrated (Ohio State). I consider these two regions the hardest to pick because of my lack of faith in both of the #1 seeds. Yet in Ohio State's case the question becomes, who in the hell is going to beat them before the Elite 8? Here's what I've got:
#1 North Carolina - #16 Eastern Kentucky
Unfortunately for EKU UNC will absolutely walk here. Thanks for coming I guess.
#8 Marquette - #9 Michigan State
They're saying Jerel McNeal will not play in this game. With that in mind I'm taking the Spartans as McNeal the Big East defensive player of the year would have given Drew Neitzel fits. With him out I expect Neitzel to play well and will his team into the 2nd round.
#5USC - #12 Arkansas
I'm taking the Razorbacks here as I think their size up front will be the difference. As long as Charles Thomas is at 90% after injury his ankle against Floirda I think the Hogs can will pull this one off.
#4 Texas - #13 New Mexico State
I really liked Reggie Theus' team this season but unfortunately they've drawn the best player in the country. Durant will not let his team go down in round 1 and the Horns will advance. Don't be shocked however if The Aggies make it a close one.
#11 George Washington - #6 Vanderbilt
This appears to be the trendy first round upset pick among blogger's. I won't be biting as I think Derrick Byars will play well and the overall athleticism of Vandy will be too much for GW.
#3 Washington State - #14 Oral Roberts
I like Caleb Green a lot and I think the Golden Eagles can definitely win this game behind Green and Ken Tutt. With that said I'm going to take Washington State as I got to watch them play a few times this season and I think their defense will play well enough to win. This one, however, could go either way.
#7 Boston College - #10 Texas Tech
The two arguably worst teams from their conferences to receive bids to the tournament square off here. I greatly dislike them both in round 2 so I'll take Tech with the hope that Bob Knight is his usual candid self during the round 2 interview session.
#2 Georgetown - #15 Belmont
This should be an hard game to watch as the much bigger Hoyas will likely dominate Belmont. Here's to hoping its not the game that's on in my area.
Well after my power flashed and I lost these picks. Lets do them again shall we.
#1 North Carolina - #9 Michigan State
Assuming Drew Neitzel doesn't score forty points I think North Carolina rolls here. The Spartans are going to need to dominate the glass as well something I consider unlikely. This season's Spartan team lacks the experience to close the talent gap between them and the Heels. UNC could walk in this one but it'll be competitive early.
#4 Texas - #12 Arkansas
The hogs won't have anyone who can even slow Durant down let alone stop him. I think he score in the neighborhood of 30 as Texas advances to the Sweet 16.
#3 Washington State - #6 Vanderbilt
This one should be a good one as I think Vandy will shoot well enough to keep it close and maybe even win. The Cougars will have too much defense and Derrick Low is the reason I'm going with them.
#2 Georgetown - #10 Texas Tech
The Hoyas finish a rather pedestrian first weekend with a win here. Though I do think the Hoyas are in for a let down as Jay Bilas picked them to win the whole thing. Rooting for a blowout though so and hoping Knight gets asked a stupid question.
#1 North Carolina - #4 Texas
This one has instant classic written all over it. Numerous future NBA stars will face off for the right to go to the Elite 8. Now that the build up is over with I can make my pick. Until tonight I was sure that Texas would win this game. I now think UNC will get it done. They have plenty of athletic guys that they can throw at Kevin Durant to try and slow him down. I expect this one to be a lot like the two Kansas games as Texas falls short just barely.
#2 Georgetown - #3 Washington State
This could be a very interesting game as Washington State's up and down style could take the Hoyas out of their comfort zone. If the Hoyas can keep it slow their size should dominate the Cougars inside. I expect the latter to be the case as Georgetown wins in a surprisingly close one.
#1 North Carolina - #2 Georgetown
After playing a tough Texas team just two days earlier UNC comes out flat and gets down early as Jeff Green puts his team on his back in the early going. Johnathan Wallace and Patrick Ewing Jr. provide much needed energy for the Hoyas as Roy Hibbert spends a lot of the game on the bench in foul trouble. In the end I think its a little too much Green for the Heels as Georgetown manages to dodge the kiss of death that is Jay Bilas and knocks off a tired UNC team to reach the Final Four.
#1 Ohio State - #16 Central Connecticut State
Greg Oden should have a big day against the other Blue Devils as the Buckeyes advance.
#8 BYU - #9 Xavier
A lot of people like Xaveir here but I'm taking Keenen Young is the real deal inside and the Cougars will advance in what should be a pretty close game.
#5 Tennessee - #12 Long Beach State
As much as I hate Tennessee I think Chris Lofton will show up and be ready to go for this one. These two teams play a very similar style on both ends of the floor so it should feel like practice for them both. I think LB will keep it close but I like Lofton and the Vols to advance and avoid the dreaded 12-5 upset.
#4Virgina - #13 Albany
The Great Danes almost knocked off UCONN in the first round of last season's tournament and returned their best player. I expect Jamar Wilson to have a big day as Albany knocks off the over seeded Cavaliers. I know Sean Singletary is a fantastic player but it's his 39% shooting percentage that scares me and is a big part of the reason for my pick.
#6 Louisville - #11 Stanford
Stanford is among the last four in like Illinois and Arkansas two teams I've picked to advance past the opening round. Stanford is where it ends as I expect Louisville in Lexington to take advantage of the hometown crowd and advance to the second round.
#3 Texas A&M - #14 Pennsylvania
The Aggies shouldn't have a lot of problems here as I think they're the best team in the region. It's their second round game where I have concerns.
#7 Nevada - #10 Creighton
I've noticed a lot of people are hopping onto the Nevada bandwagon over the last few days. All I have to say about that is watch your step as your jumping right back off. The Wolf Pack play absolutely NO defense and they come into the tournament in a bit of a slump. I expect Creighton's to stifle the Pack's shooters and and Anthony Tolliver to push Nick Fazekas around inside.
#2 Memphis - #15 North Texas
Memphis blew one Conference USA team after another out of the water this season. I expect this to be similar to those games as Memphis walks moves on to round 2.
#1 Ohio State - #8 BYU
I almost want to take the Cougars here as I think their big's will give Oden trouble. Conley Jr and co. will be a little too much on the perimeter for the Cougars.
#5 Tennessee - #13 Albany
I think Chris Lofton continues to shoot the lights out in this one as he's got to be looking forward to that rematch with the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16.
#3 Texas A&M - #6 Louisville
This may be the toughest game The Aggies will face before the Elite 8. Louisville's youngsters create all kinds of problems the fact that the game is in Lexington is only one of them. I think Derrick Caracter falls off the wagon and Acie Law's refusal to let his team lose in the 2nd round again this year is enough to get A&M into the Sweet 16.
#10 Creighton - #2 Memphis
Here's an upset for you my second #10 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 is the Blue Jays. They outlast their MVC counterpart SIU and reach the Sweet 16. I think they're defense and is just too much for Memphis. It'll be close but the Tigers will miss a bunch of free throws and allow the Jays to steal it.
#1 Ohio State - #5 Tennessee
While the Buckeyes have improved a great deal since these two met in Columbus on January 13th (The Buckeyes got a controversial 2 point win). I think Tennessee has a great shot to knock off the #1 seed. In the end however I think the Buckeyes size inside will be a little too much as they squeak out another close one.
#3 Texas A&M - #10 Creighton
This one should be all defense a very little offense. Nate Funk and Acie Law would be a fun match up to watch. In the end I think the Aggies win. This team is on a mission.
#1 Ohio State - #3 Texas A&M
This one will be very good and I think it could go either way, like most of the late round match ups. Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas are bangers inside and will give Oden fits. On the perimeter Acie Law's defense is likely to do the same to Mike Conley. It'll be close though and an interesting tidbit about Law from Yahoo.com: " If Law's scoring in the final four minutes of Big 12 games was projected over 40 minutes, he'd average 63 ppg." That right there is the difference folks as A&M advances to the Final Four.
#1 Florida - #2 UCLA
A re-match of last season's title game seems inevitable looking at the brackets. I for one am excited to see if this season's Bruin squad can make this one a little closer than they did last year. Having a week to prepare will certainly help Ben Howland's group. I just think Al Horford and Noah inside are too much for a Bruins team that really doesn't have an inside presence at all. Corey Brewer should give Aaron Afflalo fits once again as the Gators get back to the championship game.
#3 Texas A&M - #2 Georgetown
This one is the toughest call of of the two final four match up. After very little thought I decided to go with my heart and take the Aggies. Seeing their second seven footer in under a week won't seem like such a big deal after dispatching the better one the previous weekend. I think Acie Law is on a mission and his taking his team mates along for the ride. Green should continue his good play here but I think Hibbert disappears and A&M commands the inside with its two big men men.
#1 Florida - #3 Texas A&M
For me its been between these two since the Aggies knocked off my third contender Kansas on the road a month or so ago. A&M had no business wining that game but they did and that's a big part of the reason I want to pick them here. I however, will not be doing that as Florida's balance will be just too much. I think Horford takes home tourney MVP this time around as he and Humphrey must play well for them to even think about pulling this off. I'm hoping they do find a way to get it done. But I won't be shocked if Texas A&M walks out of Atlanta with the trophy.
That's it for me. I'm generally pretty good at picking Final Four teams. Its getting the champion right I'm not too good at. Enjoy the Madness all, I know I will.