I don’t know about you, but my bracket is in rough shape. I still have my final game intact, but thanks to Georgetown, and especially New Mexico, I was done almost before the whole thing started. When things go badly there is only one thing you can do — change the rules and start again. With that in mind, here’s how I would break down the bracket starting from now:
Louisville vs. Oregon - The Ducks have more right to being insulted than any team in the tournament by their seeding, and they have played like a much lower seed. Impressive, and classic coaching by Dana Altman. They are in massive trouble here, though. The Cardinals looked like the best team coming into the tournament, and they have played just like it. They will advance.
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Duke vs. Michigan State - Does it get any better than Izzo vs. Coach K in the Sweet 16? Love the matchup. Duke has looked solid, but Michigan State has been relentless on defense, and that’s the difference. The Spartans get the nod.
Louisville vs. Michigan State - The Spartans are good, but not good enough here. Louisville keeps on winning.
Wichita State vs. La Salle - Both teams have been very impressive and absolutely deserve what they have gotten. Both are playing over their heads, though, and that will catch up to them sooner or later. I’ll take Wichita State because they have seemed to be more complete, but neither team will win again, so it doesn’t much matter.
Arizona vs. Ohio State - I love this matchup for many reasons — not the least of which being that the two coaches are very close and know each other’s systems very well. Arizona has been a disappointment, but their young players are finally growing into themselves. They haven’t been tested yet, though, and this is a brutal challenge. Ohio State went to war last round and emerged. They will again here.
Ohio State vs. Wichita State - The Buckeyes win a game that won’t be nearly as interesting as we would like it to be.
Kansas vs. Michigan - Toughest game to call on the board. Kansas has an advantage with their post play. Michigan is so ridiculously explosive offensively, though, and is back in form. Kansas relies very heavily on a freshman for their offense. Michigan relies on three. Coin flip. I’ll take Michigan, though — if they play like they did against VCU I don’t see them getting beat.
Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast - I wish the party could continue. It can’t. Florida is just far too efficient on both ends of the court.
Florida vs. Michigan - Another very tough one — this region is just brutal. Florida’s defense is far more efficient, but they have a tendency towards a shootout if a team can match them, and Michigan certainly can. They won’t be able to put on the shooting clinic they did last game, and that will be a problem. Michigan wins an instant classic.
Indiana vs. Syracuse - I’ve been reasonably impressed with Syracuse so far, but I just don’t trust them. Indiana is deeper and more tested, and the Hoosiers will win.
Miami vs. Marquette - I don’t like Miami quite as much as some. I absolutely detest this Marquette team, though. They are sloppy and lazy and were very lucky to come out on top of both of their games so far — and needed strange circumstances in each case. Miami is a waltz.
Indiana vs. Miami - The Big Ten has made a habit of disappointing in this tournament over the last decade, so I am on dangerous ground trusting three of their teams. I have to here, though. Miami is good, but this is too much of a test for them.
Louisville vs. Ohio State - I like Ohio State and have had them in the Final Four since my original bracket. I just don’t see them going any further, though. While they are a talented team, they are just missing that one little thing that separates a Final Four squad from a champion. This Louisville team was here last year, and they are ready — and much better than they were back then. This game should be very good, but Louisville will pull away late — and there is no miracle Aaron Craft shot that will change that.
Indiana vs. Michigan - The last time these teams met they were playing for the Big Ten regular season title. Indiana won in Ann Arbor, but they only took the lead late, and Michigan had two rim-huggers that didn’t fall in at the final buzzer. Indiana has been the same team in this tournament that they were then. Michigan has been dramatically better. If both teams play their average game, Indiana wins. If Michigan plays their best, though, they can’t be beaten by the Hoosiers. We’ve seen their best already this tournament, so we know it is available. We’ll see it again. Michigan wins.
Louisville vs. Michigan - I have tried to be as objective as I can, but my two favorite programs have ended up here. Looking back I don’t dispute the selections of either team. When offense meets defense, I guess defense wins. It’s like picking between children, though, so either way I win — and lose. I had Louisville as my champions from the start, so I won’t change it now.
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