Mizzou

WHEELER: How Far Do The Tigers And Billikens Go?

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Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a free throw against the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Prudential Center on March 25, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a free throw against the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Prudential Center on March 25, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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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