A Disclaimer: Between the two of us we've watched less than six games this year. That's not to say we haven't followed along with box scores and highlights, but despite what looks to be thoughtful evidence for the picks below, most (all?) are based on hunches, gut feelings, and rooting preferences. The sole point of this is to go on record, should the picks actually hit.
I want to pick George Mason (two starters with final four experience!) over Notre Dame just for nostalgia's sake, but can't bring myself to do it, after reading all of the recent Harangody hype. Incidentally, it's only because I haven't heard an excess of his hype that I'm actually buying into it (see Hansbrough, finals pick).
I got Winthrop over Washington St. just because the cougars are an eyepopping 0-5 vs top 25. All five came against UCLA (twice) and Stanford (three times) and if you say, that thats not representative of the top 25 as a whole, I say you have to pull out at least one win no matter who you get your crack at 5 times.
The rest of the region is 1-4 in the sweet sixteen and 1 UNC over 2 Tenn in the regional final. Tenn is tempting, and I could see either team taking this, but I'm going with UNC on the been-there, done-that principle.
The 1-4 seeds and 9-13s make it into the second round, with only 12 Villanova crashing the top-seed party the second weekend.
I have Kansas St. running through the region before losing to Kansas in the final (Beasley's quote notwithstanding). But yes, I do have them taking down 6 USC, 4 Wisc, and 2 Gtown, the latter of which I'm only picking to lose because Roy Hibbert's soft game annoys me.
Let's make it three straight years that Memphis loses at the hands of a Final Four-bound team (UCLA in '06, OSU in '07). After watching them clank free throws and throw away their lead against Tennessee, I just don't trust them and their 60% charity stripe number.
After that I have Pitt beating Stanford, themselves coming off of a Texas win. It's not so much that I like Pitt as that I don't like their competition. I will never pick a Texas basketball team to make a deep run after my visit there a few years ago revealed that their home games rarely come close to selling out, and the inside scoop from the students was that no one there really cares about the basketball team. So lets make it this five years in a row without a Final Four berth. (If you have a problem with me cherry picking stats, I direct you to reason three within the disclaimer above).
Include me among everyone else who thinks this is the easiest region for the top seed.
Duke is only 5-4 in their last 9, but I'll ignore warnings of a weak ACC this year and still take them over Xavier in the Elite Eight.
I also have Drake beating a UConn team that lost in the opening round of the big east. They're early exit and time spent out of the public eye has enlivened the talking heads, many warning, "don't sleep on UConn." Instead, let's just be satisfied with what they've accomplished already considering their early season turmoil (suspensions, Calhoun-AD bickering a a result) and not expect them to do much more.
On the flip-side, lets root for Baylor, the last team announced on the selection show, and give 'em a win over Purdue in the opening round, and an exclamation point on their post-Dennehy, post-Bliss, revival.
UCLA over Kansas
UNC over Pitt
UCLA 71 UNC 68
Why? Because I've had enough of the Hansbrough hype. And because he looks awkward and Kevin love doesn't. Though I do love Danny Green's pre-game dancing.
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