Many of the prognosticators are saying you can pencil in the top four seeds for the Final Four: maybe they forgot that last year an eleven seed and an eight seed were in the Final Four (VCU, Butler) and that a three seed (Conneticut) won it all. Sure, more than fifty percent of the time, you can count on the top two seeds advancing (blah, blah, blah) but more often than not, it’s all about the matchups, injuries, and other factors that weigh in (like who became a one seed based on end of the season rankings versus actual performance in the last two weeks, etc.)
So, here’s my take on this year’s tournament, and you can bank on it (probably into the wastebasket by the end of the second weekend).
Upset special #1: #13 New Mexico State over #4 Indiana. As our “Sound Off!” feature shows, there are plenty of 13 over 4 upsets and Indiana seems primed to fall thanks to injury and playing away from home.
Upset special #2: #11 N.C. State over #6 San Diego State. Call it an East Coast bias or simply my over-reliance on “destiny” as a reason this year, I’ll take the ACC upset with experienced players finally coached by a successful Mark Gottfried to make some noise in what was expected to be a rebuilding year.
South: Kentucky over Baylor
East: Florida State over Syracuse
West: Missouri over Michigan State (my toughest pick yet!)
Midwest: UNC over Kansas
If I was bolder, I’d predict Florida State will lockdown on Kentucky’s young guns in the final and close out on a tough 68-63 victory. It seems like Coach Calipari is destined to have the talent but few wins (which end up being vacated later) while Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles seem like a team from destiny. But I’m not, so I’m going to say that the experience of Coach Williams, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson will overwhelm Anthony Davis, Marcus Teague, and Coach “I Can’t Win The Big One” Calipari to take the final for UNC, 65-61 over Kentucky.