I've filled out a few brackets at a few different sites, most notably the Holy Lands of Hoops, a site dedicated to the new Big East and like Brian, it was chalky until I doubled back and got as ridiculous as I could. I've thought all year that by time we get to the Final 4, it's going to include 4 very good teams and no surprise and I still feel that way. I put a disclaimer on that, though. It wouldn't shock me to see a couple of 4/5 line teams and another lower seed. I'm pretty wishy-washy on it because the teams I think are a cut above do stupid things like blow leads to Ole Miss or get stuck in the Region of Doom. Here we go:
The Pick: I'm sticking with Florida. As I wrote a few days ago, someone named this the "Region of teams no one believes in."
The Surprise: Is Michigan a surprise? I'll say yes because they've slipped in national reputation in the last month after being #1 in the country. They're capable of giving up 50 to Nate Wolters but they should score at will against them as well. They protect the ball and VCU HAS to froce TO's to win. They're certainly talented enough to beat Kansas.
The Upset: Based strictly on seeding, Minnesota over UCLA. Or both teams could play 17 overtimes in a futile attempt to out-disappoint their fan bases. I wouldn't be surprised to see Carolina beat KU in a potential 2nd, er, 3rd round game.
Who the hell do I pick?: UCLA-Minnesota again. I only predict both coaches will have the send button at their fingertips should they lose to send resumes.
The Pick: The so-called "Region of Doom". I'll stick with pre-season pick Louisville.
The Surprise: Creighton slips out of the bottom of the bracket to an Elite 8. We're all focused on Duke-MSU Sweet 16 matchup but know Sparty can't score consistently and Creighton has enough size to bother Plumlee and can match buckets with Duke.
The Upset(s): St. Mary's over Memphis; Oregon over Oklahoma State.
Who the hell do I pick: Oklahoma State is uber-talented but so is Oregon. Numbers favor OSU but Oregon is better than a 12-seed.
The Pick: I believe in Jim Larranaga. So, I'll pick the Canes.
The Surprise: I'd say Syracuse but it looks like they have some distractions heading their way, so I'll say UNLV. They have Final 4 talent but play like a potential 1st, er, 2nd round upset candidate. NC State should beat Temple. They have talent to matchup with IU. Just saying.
The Upset(s): Bucknell over Butler. Davidson certainly could upend Marquette. The key to that game will be turnovers. If Marquette protects the ball, they'll win.
Who the hell do I pick: Butler-Bucknell are closer than one might think based on numbers. I think it's a toss-up and I'm banking on Mike Muscala to win it for the Bison. Colorado-Illinois, too. If Illinois is hitting buckets, they could run Colorado off the court. And if they don't...It's a coin-flip.
The Pick: Now or never for Gonzaga. They're really good if you haven't seen them, they're capable of playing up-and-down the court and ugly.
The Surprise: Arizona is a trendy upset victim but has the talent to make a deep run. They were a top-5 team at one point that has a PG issue. If they can get a good Mark Lyons for two weeks, they can certainly beat New Mexico or Ohio State.
The Upset(s): If Notre Dame survives Iowa State, I'll take them over the Buckeyes where the first to 40 wins. Despite what the numbers say, I don't see Pitt making a run.
Who the hell do I pick: Ole Miss is labeled a "hot" team but are less than two weeks removed from losing to Mississippi State, one of the worst BCS teams in recent memory. Forget Henderson. Ole Miss can win if he has a bad game, they need solid play inside. And everyone is in Wisconsin's shorts because they beat Michigan and a disinterested Indiana last week despite no-showing Purdue at home and escaping by the skin of their teeth at Penn State. Weak point guard play and bad FT shooting will haunt them at some point. I'll take madman and colossoal a-hole Bo Ryan over Andy Kennedy.