WHEELER: How Far Do The Tigers And Billikens Go?

Today is one of those special sports days. I know TV networks refer to March Madness when promoting conference tournament play and the four play-in games (I refuse to call them first round games) earlier this week but to me the only “Madness” in March comes when 64 teams are pared down to 32 over a 48 hour span.

Today and tomorrow. That is the Madness.

In this space I’m going to lay out what I think is going to happen in each Region and offer a brief explanation where necessary. I make no guarantees on these picks because as all of you know the Tournament is wildly unpredictable.

Note that I always tend to favor the higher seeds. Not only is it a sound strategy for filling out a bracket but it also reflects the history of this tournament. The big boys always win it and they always dominate the Elite Eight and the Final Four.

To avoid writing a modern “War and Peace” here on the blog I’m going to skip ahead to the 2nd round – you’ll get the 1st round picks simply by seeing who I have played on Saturday and Sunday. And away we go…

EAST REGION

2nd Round

(8) Kansas State over (1) Syracuse – loss of 7-footer Fab Melo is the difference
(5) Vanderbilt over (4) Wisconsin – Vandy red hot after SEC tourney win
(3) Florida State over (11) Texas – Noles could fall here, either to UT or Cincinnati
(2) Ohio State over (7) Gonzaga – Buckeyes are very strong, they’ll advance

Sweet 16

(5) Vanderbilt over (8) Kansas State – Wildcats run out of gas
(2) Ohio State over (3) Florida State – This just might be a blowout

Elite Eight

(2) Ohio State over (5) Vanderbilt – Buckeyes advance to the Final Four

MIDWEST REGION

2nd Round

(1) North Carolina over (9) Alabama – Tar Heels one of the most talented groups
(4) Michigan over (5) Temple – Owls are solid but Wolverines are on the rise
(3) Georgetown over (11) NC State – Hoyas roll through 1st two rounds
(2) Kansas over (10) Purdue – Not even a match, Jayhawks win big

Sweet 16

(1) North Carolina over (4) Michigan – Michigan not ready for this stage just yet
(2) Kansas over (3) Georgetwon – This one comes down to the wire but KU advances

Elite Eight

(2) Kansas over (1) North Carolina – Thomas Robinson wins the day

SOUTH REGION

2nd Round

(1) Kentucky over (9) UConn – Blowout city, baby
(4) Indiana over (5) Wichita State – Shockers dangerous but Hoosiers better
(3) Baylor over (6) UNLV – Not calling it but upset is very possible here
(2) Duke over (7) Notre Dame – Same as Baylor-UNLV, upset possible

Sweet 16

(1) Kentucky over (4) Indiana – Payback for loss in Bloomington earlier in season
(2) Duke over (3) Baylor – Not sold on either of these teams

Elight Eight

(1) Kentucky over (2) Duke – UK rolls to Final Four unchallenged

MIDWEST REGION

2nd Round

(1) Michigan State over (8) Memphis – Sorry to say I think Tigers take down SLU
(4) Louisville over (5) New Mexico – Lobos could go down in 1st round, take LOU
(3) Marquette over (6) Murray State – Flip a coin on this one
(2) Missouri over (7) Florida – High scoring run and gun win for Mizzou

Sweet 16

(1) Michigan State over (4) Louisville – Maybe one of this years best games
(2) Missouri over (3) Marquette – Won’t be a breeze but Tigers pull away late

Elite Eight

(1) Michigan State over (2) Missouri – Refs determine outcome, tighter better for Tigers

FINAL FOUR

(1) Kentucky over (1) Michigan State – Spartans are good but not Kentucky good
(2) Ohio State over (2) Kansas – Coin toss, like Buckeyes by a hair

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

(1) Kentucky over (2) Ohio State

The best team in the country wins. Big shock! Honestly, I’ve been saying all season long that the Wildcats were a step or two ahead of the pack and nothing has happened that will change my mind.

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