Scott’s Pick in the Men’s NCAA Tournament
DANCIN’, DANCIN’, DANCIN’ ‘CROSS THE U-S-A
68 teams are ready to start dancing in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament as the madness of March sets in for real beginning tomorrow night with the first two “first round” games in Dayton, Ohio, four teams playing for the right to advance to the 64 team round that tips off on Thursday, with four more teams playing for the right on Wednesday. To the purists the dance really begins when the 64 teams that play on Thursday and Friday are in place, to the purists that’s the real opening round. Still, the two nights in Dayton give the NCAA a little bragging room, about how many mid major teams now draw at-large bids, this year a record 11. Those “First Four” eight teams are like Woolworth’s turtles. Don’t bother naming them, they won’t be around long. All will be out by the time the real first round is over. When it comes to March I’m as mad as anyone and off the top I’ll give you a preview of my bottom line. The top seeds are 4th ranked Big East champ Louisville in the Midwest, the top number one seed, 3rd ranked Indiana in the East, 7th ranked Kansas in the South and top ranked Gonzaga in the West. I only have two of them surviving to the Final Four and those two meeting the national championship game. On the road from Dayton to Atlanta I see louisville surviving in the Midwest, but needing to survive a strong challenge from Saint Louis in the regional semis and a not so strong challenge from Duke in the regional final to get there. Don’t be too surprised if Saint Louis pulls off a long run in the tournament. I don’t have Gonzaga making it to the regional final in the West, I have them losing to 5th seed Wisconsin in the regional semis with Wisconsin facing Ohio State for the trip to Atlanta, the 2nd seed buckeyes getting it. In the South I’ll take top seed Kansas all the way out to the regional final where I just have a hunch 2nd seed Georgetown, with Big East player of the year Otto Porter Jr. and their deliberate pace and daunting defense will be too much for a veteran Kansas lineup that’s been struggling of late. In the east I have top seed Indiana going all the way through to Atlanta, but not before facing a surprise challenge in the regional semi finals. I have Cal advancing past Syracuse in round two, the 4th seed Orange advancing over 13th seed Montana in the purists first round, but even that I wouldn’t carve in stone based on Syracuse’s tournament history. I have 12th seed Cal advancing to the Syracuse game by pulling off my biggest upset pick of the Thursday-Friday round, over 5th seed UNLV. I have Indiana over Miami in the East final. Louisville over Ohio State in one national semi final, Indiana over Georgetown in the other. In the “First Four” I go with N.C. A & T over Liberty, Saint Mary’s over Middle Tennessee, James Madison over LIU and LaSalle over Boise State. In the final I like louisville, the last national championship ever to be won by the pre-separation Big East. Hey, it’s the maddest time of the year in college basketball. I have as much right to be wrong as any receptionist who doesn’t know a basketball from a bowling ball has to win the office pool. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.