Picks and Predictions

Amatuer bracketologist leads us through his picks.

Overall, I'm predicting only eight first round upsets out of the first round games and four upsets out of 16 games in the second round. My Sweet 16 features five teams from the ACC, three teams each from the Big 12, and one from the Big 10, Big East, SEC, Pac 10, and WCC. The other three? Sleepers from smaller conferences.

For the record, please root with me against the Big 10. If no Big 10 team goes to the Final Four and KU does, I have secured Final Four tickets from a friend of mine at work.

Albequerque Region

Much has been made out of the Washington # 1 seed and whether it's deserving or not. Even more has been made about how the Syracuse region is the toughest. Jim Nance stated, "I know it's hyperbole, but the Syracuse region might be the toughest region I've seen in ANY tournament". With respect to the path our 'Hawks have to play, I beg to differ. While the Syracuse region is top-loaded with extremely solid 1-3, the Albequerque region has legitimate teams between 1 and 11 that could win a couple of games. Just look.

(1) Washington is obviously good while (2) Wake Forest is many people's pick for the Final Four. Even (3) Gonzaga has a shot at St. Luois.

Conference USA champs (4) Louisville only had four losses this year and (5) Georgia Tech is playing their best ball with the nucleus of the team that went to title game last year. Bob Knight's (6) Texas Tech is always a threat to play into second weekend. (7) West Virginia has just completely a run through Big East tourney to title game. KU fans know this (8) Pacific - team is solid and they've only lost three games this year and spent most of the season in the Top 25.

You can't rule (9) Pittsburgh out with Troutman - if they get hot, the could present problems. (10) Creighton is peaking at right time behind Altman and they've been there, done that in the NCAA's. Even (11) UCLA is a solid team.

First round upsets: Creighton over West Virginia.

Sweet 16 picks: Pacific beat Pittsburgh and then upsets Washington. Georgia Tech takes out Louisville to advance behind BJ Elder and Jarrett Jack's usual strong tourney play Texas Tech isn't ready to win two games due to lack a strong post presence to complement guard play, so it is Gonzaga. Chris Paul will lead Wake past Creighton

Chicago Region

This is the second easiest bracket. Yes, you've got the likes of Arizona, Oklahoma State, and Boston College, but each of these squads has identified weaknesses that have been exploited and exploited in the last month of the season. There's also some intriguing first round games and I believe more upsets here.

First round upsets:

Texas comes out flat and unsure of themselves and Nevada has been here before. Nevada wins.The SEC is down, and Alabama has been hiding in the shadow of that, so Wisconsin-Milwaukee here. UAB over LSU resulting in a tough day for the SEC.

Sweet 16 picks:

Illinois is tested early in second half against Pacific, but advances. Bruce Pearl is a great coach and Wisc-Milwaukee will upset BC. Arizona avoids a first round flameout this year and the UAB upset helps them advance to Sweet 16. Oklahoma state has a gritty victory against S. Illinois

Syracuse Region

Everybody is looking forward to a potential UNC / KU regional final. People really need to wake up. Sorry folks, this will not happen.

A couple of teams will prove to be mislabeled by the committee in this region including Florida, Wisconsin, and Charlotte. A lot of games see winners scoring in the upper 60's and 70's with ball-hawking, slow down games taking precedent in the first weekend. Stay tuned to see how KU and UNC don't play after both advancing to the Sweet 16.

First round upsets:

Stinson hits some big leaners in the lane down the stretch so its Iowa State over Minnesota. Northern Iowa over Wisconsin - The ghost of Terry Allen? Nope, only some help. Although a huge in-state game for Charlotte, they are overmatched by Julius Hodge and North Carolina State.

Sweet 16 picks:

After being tested by Iowa State, North Carolina advances. Villanova wins, after making a hot Florida team look poor. After benefitting from Wisconsin upset, Kansas holds off Northern Iowa without much help from the ailing Langford. NC State gets hot and takes down UConn with help of reigning ACC POY Hodge

Austin Region

I've got to tell you, I hate this region. I want to find a way to move Duke and Kentucky off the top lines, but there's nobody there to take them out. For that matter, there are no upsets in the first round sans Syracuse returning to their first-round woes with an egg laid at the hands of sleeping giant Vermont.

First round upsets;

Vermont over Syracuse. The Catamounts led by Coppengrath - we know how good this guys really is.

Sweet 16 picks:

Duke breezes in there after beating a less than impressive Stanford team. Vermont takes down Michigan State with drama only miles from their campus in Worcester, MA. Double team of Andrew Bogut and Taj Gray holds their own along with Bookout, giving Oklahoma the nod. Kentucky is impressive, but Cincinnati has very little in response

All in all, not the craziest first weekend of the tournament. But as we approach next weekend, remember the all-time leaders in Final Fours:

N. Carolina - 15
UCLA - 15
Duke - 14
Kentucky - 13
Kansas - 12

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