Wednesday, March 19, 2014
My Final Four & National Champion Picks
Well, needless to say my picks haven’t been great as of late. Iowa lost its first game of the Big Ten Tournament to Northwestern and my guess is my Final Four picks will probably be done by this weekend. Regardless, here are my picks
South Region: I like Florida. I don’t really like Florida, but I feel like the region isn’t too difficult for the Gators. Pittsburgh has been up and down all season and UCLA won’t be able to match Florida’s defensive effort should the two meet. Kansas has the ability to reach the Final Four, but not without Joel Embiid. Syracuse has been too inconsistent on offense and that combined with Florida’s defense makes me think the Gators win an Elite Eight matchup with the Orange.
West Region: Similar to Florida, I am going with Arizona. The Wildcats don’t have too many challenges outside of Oklahoma State possibly waiting in the round of 32. If Marcus Smart gets hot, the Cowboys could make a genuine run to the Final Four. A lot of people like Wisconsin, and I see the Badgers getting to the Elite Eight, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wisconsin lose this week either. They always seem to disappoint when expectations are high on them.
East Region: Add me to the list of people jumping on Michigan State. The team I saw in the Big Ten Tournament was the team I had been waiting to see all season and the team that we expected to see when they were a preseason favorite to win it all. Branden Dawson returning and playing at a high level has really taken the Spartans to another gear. They have as much talent as anyone and seem motivated. I think this group knows, and I also think Tom Izzo knows, this may be their best chance at a title in some time. The one team I think could derail MSU in the East is Iowa State. The Cyclones have a lot of talent and are also hot right now. I could easily see a 2000 Elite Eight rematch of MSU vs. ISU.
MidWest Region: Michigan got a tough break. This region is loaded. Before the selections I said I would want to avoid Michigan State and Louisville. The Wolverines could avoid the Cardinals until the Elite Eight, but I also don’t like Michigan’s chances against Duke. Jabari Parker will be a tough matchup for Michigan. The Wolverines can beat anyone because of their shooting, but if that goes cold, they can’t really rely on their defense to carry them through. My pick is for Louisville to beat Duke in the Elite Eight and move on to the Final Four.
National Champion: I see Michigan State getting by Florida. As good as the Gators have played, I don’t think they have seen a roster of MSU’s talent and cohesion. Kentucky has talent, but doesn’t play together. I also see Louisville getting past Arizona in what would be a great game. I will take Rick Pitino over Sean Miller in that case. In the title game, I am picking the Spartans to best the Cardinals. I just feel like Michigan State has a little more talent and will have the drive to finish the job.
With this all said, look for Virginia to beat Wisconsin for it all.