I said I’d show you mine, and here it is, from the inside out.

I don’t do NCAA brackets, and I get numerous requests every year, but they all involve pool money and I have a thing about gambling on sports.  It’s not so much an ethical thing, it’s that I feel it alters the way you analyze a sport when you have money on it.  I do one bracket a year, in a station promotion that allows listeners to compete with our sports staff.  So, from the inside out, here’s how I see the men’s tournament this year.

My championship game has South top seed Florida, facing Midwest fourth seed and defending champ Louisville.  My pick of Louisville has nothing to do with wanting to see the selection committee get a comeuppance, though that would be a nice by-product, I just feel the Cardinals, with perhaps the best backcourt in the country and a good inside-outside blend, are that good, and, because they are, they are also the most underrated, most disrespected team in the tournament.  I’ve had Florida at the top of my list since I saw the Gators get cheated out of a win at Gampel in December on a buzzer beater by Shabazz Napier, without their top player.  I won’t change my mind now.  The Gators win it all.  My other final four teams are top seed Arizona in the West and fourth seed Michigan State in the East, which I personally view as the easiest region to emerge from, with the worst of the second seeds.

I think Florida’s toughest challenge on the road to the final four will come early, in the round of 32, against Pittsburgh, but Kansas will be a challenge in the regional final, if the Jayhawks, as I expect, get by Ohio State, after the Buckeyes eliminate Syracuse in the round of 32.  Louisville’s toughest challenge will come early as well, again in the round of 32, over Saint Louis, even though the Billikens are overrated.  They’ll be tougher than Wichita State in the regional semi final because, even though the Shockers will be 36-0  when they get there, they haven’t seen a team like Louisville this season, and Duke, in the regional final, may have the talent, but they really haven’t shown the stomach for this kind of game this season.

What will make the road a tough one for Michigan State is I have them drawing Harvard in the round of 32, always a tough tournament out, always underrated.  I have Harvard beating Cincinnati in a 5-12 upset that, after much consideration, I’ve decided to stay with.  Virginia and Iowa State won’t make it any easier for the Spartans in the ensuing rounds, so they’ll have to be on top of their game.  If they are, they’re in the final four.

I have Arizona opening with relatively easy wins over Weber State and Gonzaga in the first two games, followed by wins over two overrated teams, San Diego State and Wisconsin, in the next two, before falling to Florida in the national semis.

As for the teams of local interest.  UMass just found out last night they’ll open with Tennessee tomorrow.  It makes no difference, they’ll get through to a round of 32 game that they’ll lose to Duke.  Watered down Big East tournament champ Providence will stick around only long enough to lose to North Carolina tomorrow night.

Now, the UCONN Huskies, in their return to the tournament.  The non seniors on the team will finally get to experience victory in the tournament, twice, over St. Joe’s tonight and over the vastly overrated Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, before losing to Iowa State in the Sweet 16.

Making good on a promise to show you mine, I’m Scott Gray.


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