BRO Breaks Down the Brackets

Bruin Report Online's basketball writers -- Tracy Pierson, Greg Hicks, Michael Miller and Robert Carpentier -- reveal their takes on the NCAA Tournament, breaking down the brackets all the way to the Final Four and the eventual champion...

Tracy Pierson's Bracket Analysis:

In the Minneapolis Region:

Look for Georgetown to get bounced fairly early, either in the first or second round. They've lost five of their last nine games, and a team like Northern Iowa, the Hoyas' first round match-up, who will be hyped up and focused, could bump them off.

It's easy to see the top four seeds making it to the second weekend - Villanova, Boston College, Florida and Ohio State. #1 Villanova and #4 Boston College have it pretty easy in their first two rounds.  The biggest problem could be for Florida, who will have to get through Oklahoma in its second-round match-up, and that could go either way.  Look, then, for Boston College, probably the most under-rated team in the tourney, to upset Villanova in the Sweet 16, with the Eagles having played some of the best basketball in the country by the end of the season. They'll meet Ohio State in the Region's final, beat them and make it to the Final Four.

In the Washington D.C. Region:

I would have looked at North Carolina as a potentially big upset, a young team with very little tournament experience, but their path is one of the easiest in the tourney. They get a shaky Michigan State team in the second round, and then the most over-rated team in the tournament, #2-seed Tennessee, if the Volunteers make it that far. They could very well get bounced by Wichita State or Seton Hall in the second round.  So, North Carolina makes it to the Region's final, facing #1 seed Connecticut, who probably has a bit of a tough time with Illinois in the Region's semi-final.  Connecticut then dominates North Carolina and makes it to Indianapolis.

In the Atlanta Region:

Syracuse is the pick for the team that looked like you could stick a fork in them in the middle of the season who now over-achieves in the tourney. After they beat Texas A&M in the first round, the Orangemen, tempered by the tough Big East, will then beat LSU to face Duke in the Region's semi-final, but their run ends there.

On the other side of the bracket, #3-seed Iowa holds serve, beating a fading West Virginia team to make it to the second weekend. With one of the best frontlines in the country, #10 California upsets  #7 North Carolina State in the first round and gives Texas a run in the second round. #2 seed Texas is then upset by Iowa in the Sweet 16.

In Steve Alford's last game at Iowa before taking the Indiana head coaching job, the Hawkeyes then fall to Duke in the Region's final and the Blue Devils move on to Indianapolis.

In the Oakland Region:

#1 seed Memphis holds serve, until it faces #5 Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16, and the Panthers' more physical style upsets Memphis' looser approach.  #2-seed UCLA and #3-seed Gonzaga get past their first two rounds to face each other in an epic battle in the Sweet 16. It's a great match-up, Gonzaga's great offense against UCLA's superior defense, but Arron Afflalo and Cedric Bozeman limit Adam Morrison and UCLA wins, in overtime. The Bruins move on for another very poignant match-up when Ben Howland faces his protege, Jamie Dixon, and his former team, Pitt, in the Region's final (it's just too much of a storybook script not to predict it). UCLA wins and goes on to the Final Four.

In Indianapolis:

Boston College gives Connecticut a tough game in the semi-final but the Huskies prevail. UCLA looks like they're going to upset Duke, but the Dookies pull out a come-from-behind win in the last couple of minutes after some questionable pro-Duke calls to advance to the championship game. Connecticut then beats Duke pretty easily and cuts down the nets.

Michael Miller's Bracket Analysis:

In the Atlanta Region:
I don't see anyone challenging Duke until very late.  I pick UNC-Wilmington to "upset" George Washington, but that's as far as they go.  I like Syracuse a lot; they have momentum and that's crucial in the NCAAs.  I see them beating Texas A&M and LSU before falling to Duke in the Sweet 16.  On the other side of the bracket, my only upset win is #11 Southern Illinois over #6 West Virginia.  Iowa beats the Salukis, Cal gets by NC State in time to lose to Texas and then Texas knocks off Iowa in the Sweet 16.  That sets up Duke and Texas in the Elite 8.  For me, it's too close to call, but I'll flip a coin and go with Texas.
In the Oakland Region:
I'll go with Kent State to upset Pitt and Bucknell to beat Arkansas, but otherwise I see the top half of the bracket going with the seedings.  Memphis and Kansas play in the Sweet 16, two very athletic young teams with size and speed, a great matchup that Memphis wins.  In the lower bracket, I go with the favorites except for Alabama over Marquette.  UCLA beats Belmont and Alabama and gets Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.  I'm more sold on Gonzaga than most people at this stage and I pick the Zags to knock off the Bruins, I think they have too much firepower for our vaunted defense to handle.  Memphis beats Gonzaga in the Elite 8 and goes to the Final 4.
In the Washington D.C. Region:
My only upset picks in the first round are UAB over Kentucky and Seton Hall over Wichita State.  But the team I really like is Michigan State.  They have two good guard scorers and a legit big man and a coach who's used to winning in the NCAAs.  So, I see Michigan State upsetting first a young North Carolina team and then Tennessee to advance all the way to the Elite 8.  UConn walks to the Elite 8 and beats Michigan State there to go to the Final 4.
In the Minneapolis Region:
I have more first round upsets here than any other bracket. I'm going with Wisconsin over Arizona, Montana over Nevada and Northern Iowa over Georgetown.  But the favorites all win in the second round, so we have Sweet 16 matchups between Villanova and Boston College and Florida and Ohio State.  I'm taking upsets here, Boston College and Florida, with Boston College winning in the Elite 8.
In the Final 4, Texas beats Memphis and UConn beats Boston College.  UConn then beats Texas to win the National Championship.    
Greg Hicks' Bracket Analysis:
In the Minneapolis Region:
I think Oklahoma and Nevada are both potential upset victims in the first round. I think Arizona has a short stay as Wisconsin takes the Wildcats out in the first round. The two best teams in the regional, Villanova and Boston College, are on the same side of the bracket. I like Villanova to take out Boston College in a great Sweet 16 game. On the other side, of the bracket, I think Ohio
State has a tough game with Georgetown, but advances and then beats Florida. Villanova knocks off Ohio St. to reach the Final Four.

In the Washington, D.C. Region:
I like Utah St. to upset Washington in the first round. UConn has no trouble with UAB in a second round game, but struggles to beat Illinois in the Sweet 16. Tennessee has a very tough game with Seton Hall in the second round, but advances to play North Carolina in the Sweet 16. The Tar Heels win easily over Tennessee and then upset UConn to advance to the Final Four.

In the Atlanta Region:
Syracuse's late-season magic ends and the Orangemen fall to Texas A & M in the first round. Cal knocks off North Carolina St., but then gets whacked by Texas in the second round. Duke has a much tougher than anticipated game against George Washington, but survives to advance to the Sweet 16. But the Dukies go no further, as LSU upsets them in the next round. West Virginia has a nice run to the semifinals before falling to Texas. LSU and Texas play a great game in the elite eight, with Texas prevailing and advancing to the Final Four.

In the Oakland Region:
Gonzaga is an early upset victim, bowing out in the either the first or second round. UCLA cruises over Belmont, but has a very tough game with Marquette before advancing to the Sweet 16.  Indiana has a tough first round game with San Diego St., but gets by the Aztecs and then wins a second round game to go to the Sweet 16. On the other side of the bracket, Kansas and Pittsburgh play a terrific second round game with Kansas advancing to the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks meet
Memphis in the semifinals and Memphis advances to the Elite Eight. UCLA knocks off Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen and then beats Memphis in the regional finals to earn a trip to the Final Four.

At the Final Four, Villanova and North Carolina play a great game with Villanova prevailing. UCLA is well-prepared for Texas and the Bruin defense stifles the Texas offense. UCLA moves on to the championship game, but Villanova is a tough matchup for the Buins in the final. The quickness of the Villanova guards, and their ability to spread the floor, is the key to the game. Villanova wins the championship.
Robert Carpentier's Bracket Analysis:

In the Atlanta Region:


Memphis is not the most overrated #1…I believe it to be Villanova.  Memphis is a close second. But, Duke will be the first #1 to lose because of their lack of depth.  They go 6 deep and Paulus, their PG, plays out of control A LOT…LSU wins the region because of match-ups…they simply are better than their opposition…Texas and Barnes will find a way to implode before Indy…watch out for West Virginia…the biggest upset here will be LSU beating Duke.  I think the seeds hold in the first round.  If you want an upset there, pick NC State to beat Cal.


In the Washington D.C. Region:


D.C. is the upset regional in terms of total "upsets" in a region, but UConn is the best team in the tourney…If the Huskies stay focused, no one will stay within 10 points of them…Watch the Spartans, with 3 key seniors, get to the regional finals again…Kentucky is a fraud…Seton Hall is just a "gut" pick…I am a "Jersey" boy.  Carolina and Tennessee will both lose early, (2nd round), but it won't mater.  UConn is simply the best.


In the Oakland Region:


Bradley is much better than they looked against SIU…Patrick O'Bryant, (from nearby Blaine, MN), is the real deal on defense, and with Kansas having more youth than UCLA, (and with no tourney experience), this is my big upset pick…I have picked Memphis, but I said about two weeks ago that if Oral Roberts is matched up with the Tigers, that Memphis may be the first #1 to lose it's opening game…the scariest match-up for the Bruins will be the 2nd round tilt with either Marquette, (who plays a lot like West Virginia), or Alabama, (who is a physically strong team that might actually have the strength to overwhelm Farmar, Afflalo and Bozeman).  Gonzaga is overrated, but a lot will depend on how they respond the "slight" they felt by the selection committee.  I can se the Zags losing to Xavier if they're not focused, but regardless, if they play without J.P Batista because of foul trouble, then the Zags are toast.  Marco Killingsworth will be the one who gets Batista in foul trouble.  Gonzaga is a better team than Indiana, but the lack of serious competition in the WCC will bite the Zags here.


In the Minneapolis Region:


Boston College is the most under seeded team in the tourney…they will give UConn a better game than anyone…who has Carolina beaten besides Duke in the last three weeks?  Virginia…Wake Forest…Maryland?  B.C. really beat them down in what was essentially a home game for the Heels.  Carolina is a nice team, but like the conference they are from, they are overrated…except for B.C…UNI has a couple of very good Minnesota boys and they are physical enough to beat Georgetown at their own game…and Ohio St. doesn't really impress me.  I think the Big 10 is overrated, too.  Only Iowa is a nice squad because of their defense, and Michigan St. because senior leadership means something at this time of the year.  Ohio St. has neither right now.


The Sweet 16:


In Atlanta, LSU will end Duke's season on the 24th because Glen Davis is going to get Sheldon Williams in serious foul trouble.  And LSU will have Tyrese Thompson back.  That will loosen Davis even more.  Redick may go off, but if he has no help, then Duke goes down.  Texas will solve West Virginia's zone and spread offense, but that's more because WVU just looked gassed last week.  In the regional final, LSU will have too much for Texas up front…and Texas, (and Rick Barnes) choke.


In Washington, Michigan St. will make a senior laden run to the regional final where a focused, deep and very talented UConn team will crush them in the conference final.


In Oakland, UCLA's defense will carry them to a second round win, and then the Bruins will really layout Indiana.  The Hoosiers have only played one team with the kind of defense that the Bruins have, Iowa, and the Hoosiers didn't do well.  The Bruins will then meet Pitt.  Same style, similar coaches, but UCLA has the better personnel.


Finally, expect an angry B.C. to beat Oklahoma in the regional final.  B.C. will get there because they're good…Oklahoma will get there because of favorable match-ups.  I feel less secure about the Sooners than any other pick I've made.  Regardless, B.C. wins in a route.


The Final Four:


UConn and B.C. will battle in an absolutely epic semi-final with UConn winning by 10.  The Bruins will take out LSU just because LSU will choke right after the Texas game.  Plus, with all due respect to Duke, this will be the best defense the Tigers have seen all season.  In the final, UConn just has too much up top for the Bruins.  UCLA can only double down on so many guys.  The Bruins fight valiantly, but the Huskies hit their free throws and win, 75-62. But just wait until next year…



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