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Bracket Picks: One road to the Final Four …

Time to put in on the line.   Just know that having some knowledge about putting together an NCAA bracket projection and successfully picking actual tournament games are two separate things.  That said, here’s my picks round-by-round, region by region … but first, the Final Four: Louisville, Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina …

MIDWEST | Round 1

  • Louisville over Morehead
  • Ohio State over Siena – too much home cookin’ for the Buckeyes
  • Utah over Arizona – Wildcats didn’t win a meaningful road game all year so why now?
  • Wake Forest over Cleveland State – Possible upset here as CSU won at Syracuse.  But the Deacons move on in a close one.
  • West Virginia over Dayton – Mountaineers have a little too much.
  • Kansas over North Dakota State – Might be close for a while, but the Jayhawks have too much speed and size.
  • Boston College over USC – Two unpredictable teams, so we’ll go with the most unpredictable.
  • Michigan State over Robert Morris

MIDWEST | Round 2

  • Louisville over Ohio State – Cards order take-out and move on.
  • Wake Forest over Utah – If the Deacons can win at BYU, they can beat the Utes’ on a neutral court.
  • West Virginia over Kansas – Turnover-prone Jayhawks have problems with the Mountaineers’ 1-3-1 matchup.
  • Michigan State over Boston College – Offensive rebounds carry the Spartans.

MIDWEST | Sweet 16

  • Louisville over Wake Forest – Cards’ play more defense in a high-flying scorefest.
  • West Virginia over Michigan State – Inconsistent shooting dooms Spartans against Huggies’ zone.

MIDWEST | Elite 8

  • Louisville over West Virginia – Replay of the Big East semis has the cards heading to Detroit.

WEST | Round 1

  • Connecticut over Chattanooga
  • Texas A&M over BYU – Aggies use team speed to rally late.
  • Purdue over Northern Iowa – Welcome to defensive lockdown.
  • Washington over Mississippi State – Tough call, but the Huskies are playing in their backyard.
  • Marquette over Utah State – If USU can’t beat St. Mary’s without Patty Mills, they can’t beat Marquette without Dominic James.
  • Missouri over Cornell – The Big Red needed a matchup with Wisconsin.
  • Maryland over California- Flip a coin here, ours landed on Terps.
  • Memphis over Cal-Northridge – CSN will wish they’d gone to the Opening Round game.

WEST | Round 2

  • Connecticut over TAMU – Too much Thabeet.
  • Purdue over Washington – Big 10’s preseason favorite is playing like it now.  So much for a Sweet Sixteen Huskie-fest.
  • Marquette over Missouri – The perfect storm for Missouri – a team with great guards handles the Tigers’ pressure.
  • Memphis over Maryland – A surpisingly close game goes to the Tigers.

WEST | Sweet 16

  • Connecticut over Purdue – A.J. Price holds off the Boilers.
  • Memphis over Marquette – These Tigers’ defense is less hectic but more stout.

WEST | Elite 8

  • Connecticut over Memphis – Huskies remind the Tigers that the Big East is far removed from C-USA.

 EAST | Round 1

  • Pittsburgh over ETSU
  • Oklahoma State over Tennessee – Toss up game has OSU playing just a little better.
  • Wisconsin over Florida State – The 12-5 upset strikes again, but not where expected.  Badgers slow the game to a crawl and remind the Seminoles why they lost to Northwestern.
  • Xavier over Portland State – Turnovers can plague the Muskies, but not enough in this one.
  • VCU over UCLA – Long trip East turns into a quick trip West.
  • Villanova over American – Wildcats practically get to play at home.
  • Texas over Minnesota – Slugfest goes A.J. Abrams way.
  • Duke over Binghamton

EAST | Round 2

  • Pittsburgh over Oklahoma State – Foul trouble nearly costs the Panthers again.
  • Xavier over Wisconsin – Muskateers make one too many threes.
  • Villanova over VCU – An entertaining game, but the Cats have too much balance.
  • Duke over Texas – If only the Longhorns had a point guard.

EAST | Sweet 16

  • Pittsburgh over Xavier – Too much inside power.
  • Duke over Villanova – An instant classic breaks the Devils’ way.

EAST | Elite 8

  • Duke over Pittsburgh – Blue Devils get the tight calls and find the range from three.  Pitt once again leaves early.  Coach K makes a long-awaited return trip to the Final Four.

SOUTH | Round 1

  • North Carolina over Radford
  • LSU over Butler – Rebounding carries the Tigers in a close one.
  • Illinois over Western Kentucky – Illini’s D keeps the Hilltoppers in check.
  • Gonzaga over Akron – ‘Zags have too much offense.
  • Temple over Arizona State – Christmas makes a March appearance.
  • Syracuse over S.F. Austin – Orange stay on the Juice.
  • Michigan over Clemson – Never quite sure what you get with these two.  But the Wolverines actually get hot from distance.
  • Oklahoma over Morgan State – Sooners receive a scare.

SOUTH | Round 2

  • North Carolina over LSU – Way too much firepower.
  • Gonzaga over Illinois – Bulldogs’ Zone keeps the Illini at bay.
  • Syracuse over Temple – ‘Cuse is playing now like it did early.
  • Oklahoma over Michigan – Maize and Blue go cold and Blake Griffin dominates.

SOUTH | Sweet 16

  • North Carolina over Gonzaga – Ty Lawson’s toe feels better and the Tar Heels pull away late.
  • Syracuse over Oklahoma – Freshman guards can’t handle the Orange’s match-up zone.

MIDWEST | Elite 8

  • North Carolina over Syracuse – UNC likes games in the 90s and wins late.

 FINAL FOUR 

  • Louisville over Connecticut – Without Jerome Dyson, the Cards repay the Huskies for a beat-down at Freedom Hall.
  • North Carolina over Duke – Another game for the ages goes overtime with the Tar Heels prevailing on Tyler Hansbrough’s putback.
  • And the 2009 NCAA Champion?  Louisville tops North Carolina to avenge last season’s Elite Eight loss.  Rick Pitino wins his first title at U of L as UK fans bemoan a loss in the NIT.

Enjoy the games – Dave.

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