Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Updated Final Four & National Championship Picks

My initial NCAA Tournament predictions haven’t been too bad.
Six of my Elite 8 picks are still alive, as are all four of my Final Four picks.
Still, there were some bumps in the road.
As Sweet 16 play begins tomorrow, I thought I would update my predictions.

South Region: I expected Florida to take on Syracuse or Kansas in the Elite 8, but the bottom half of this bracket has been upset after upset. I like the Gators to get past UCLA and Stanford to beat Dayton. Really, I don’t see any of the three teams getting past Florida. The Gators’ defense has really been clicking and should be strong enough to limit any of these three offenses. Florida won’t be truly pushed until the Final Four.

West Region: I am sticking with my original pick of Arizona vs. Wisconsin in the Elite 8 with the Wildcats getting the win. Baylor could be a real problem for the Badgers. The Bears have finally been playing like the team many expected them to be in the preseason. I think Arizona’s defense will outshine San Diego State’s and the Wildcats will ultimately bee too much for the Badgers on Saturday.

East Region: This is one of the few regions that I had nearly perfect. The lone game I missed was Harvard upsetting Cincinnati. I am looking for Michigan State to beat Virginia in a close game. The Cavaliers have been great on defense, but they also haven’t seen an offense like MSU’s. If the Spartans bring some effort to the defensive side of the court, they should be able to win this game. Despite the injury to Georges Niang, I still like Iowa State over Connecticut. The Cyclones have a lot of talent on offense and I don’t trust the Huskies to continue their strong play. In the Elite 8, MSU will be able to get past Iowa State as the Spartans have more talent, especially with Niang out. MSU should be able to score at will and make enough stops on defense to outscore ISU.

MidWest Region: I had Duke reaching the Elite 8 but certainly wasn’t shedding a tear when it lost to Mercer. Things have opened up for Michigan in this region, but the Wolverines have a tough matchup with a surging Tennessee team that has the bodies to pose a problem for Michigan. Tennessee can rebound, but so could Texas. Though Michigan was outrebounded 41-30 by Texas, it had no impact on the game. Michigan can beat anyone if it shoots well and can lose to anyone if it shoots poorly. I see the Wolverines beating the Vols. Playing in a big stadium like Lucas Oil will have no impact on Michigan, but it could have a major impact on Tennessee. Louisville and Kentucky should be a great game. There is already the rivalry feel and Kentucky is playing more like a 1 seed than an 8. I am sticking with Louisville as my pick, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Kentucky win. In the regional final, I am keeping my original pick of Louisville. The Cardinals were able to beat Michigan last year with a great second half in the title game and Pitino will know the right way to play the Wolverines.

Final Four: Sticking with MSU over Florida and Louisville over Arizona. Don’t feel as strongly about Louisville as I once did, though.

National Championship: Sticking with MSU over Louisville. If the Spartans reach the Final Four, I really think they win. Florida could get in their way, but I think this weekend is really where it will be won or lost. They will potentially face a great defense (Virginia) and a great offense (Iowa State). Two very different teams. If they can’t handle what a team like Florida would bring, I think that would be exposed against Virginia on Friday and ultimately lead to a loss.

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