Don't get rattled by the goofy, small stuff. Think big bluegrass picture. It was screwy, yes, when the
Who can forget Kentucky's "rebuilding" year in 2014, when the
Kentucky will chew like a play toy on the play-in winner, devour
Going through the rest of the regional motions: Always pick a No. 12 to upset a No. 5 because the lower seed has a respectable 44-76 record in this match up. For this reason I like Buffalo, coached by Bobby Hurley, to defeat
In the bottom of the bracket,
It kills me that Wichita, not as good this year (but still good), got stuck again in a difficult bracket where it swims upstream against the likes of
This season, the Shockers go out against Notre Dame in a regional semifinal.
Notre Dame's tempo and offense won't be enough to overcome Kentucky's size and defense.
Kentucky may, or may not, decide to cut down the nets. More work to do, you know.
Rule 1: Never bet against
No. 2 Arizona probably salivated when it saw this bracket. The Wildcats have had their hearts crushed in regional finals played in Southern California. Arizona lost a two-point final against Connecticut in 2011 at
This is the best Arizona team of the bunch, especially with the emergence of Brandon Ashley, who missed last year's tournament with an injury.
This year, Arizona gets over the hump, despite a tricky first game in Portland against No. 15
The surprise team in the bracket bottom will be No. 11 Brigham Young, which will defeat Mississippi in a play-in game, then Xavier and
The regional final at Staples Center, Wisconsin vs. Arizona, will be another one- or two-point battle. This year, the Cats scratch the fever.
Never mind history and lore, Irvine matches up well against Louisville. Irvine is tall, led by a 7-foot-6 center, and plays an effective zone defense. Louisville is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation, at 30.4%.
Irvine won't get past
Virginia isn't playing well of late as it adjusts to the return of Justin Anderson from an injury. Pace of play tends to slow in the NCAA tournament, though, as possessions become even more precious. Virginia has few peers when it comes to playing defense.
From there, it's Virginia over Villanova in the regional final, with Tony Bennett's Cavaliers earning a trip to Indianapolis. Call it a distant replay of 2000, when Tony's dad, Dick, led Wisconsin on a magical, Final Four run in the city of…Indianapolis.
The haters will say Duke wins even when it loses. Coach Mike Krzyzewski's team earned the No. 1 seeding despite not winning either the ACC regular season or tournament. Still, Duke has been a top-flight team all year and boasts quality victories at Wisconsin and Virginia. The Blue Devils have three elite freshmen, led by NBA-bound Jahill Okafor.
Duke should cruise through the upper bracket, dispatching the play-in winner, then San Diego State and Georgetown.
Two upsets here: No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah, and No. 11 UCLA over No. 6 Southern Methodist.
By tip time in Louisville on Thursday, UCLA players will have heard for four days how they don't belong in the tournament. The improved Bruins should be highly motivated to beat SMU.
Beyond that, well, let's not get crazy. UCLA heads home Saturday after a loss to
Iowa State's run ends in a region semifinal against Gonzaga, a tournament tease going on two decades. The Bulldogs long ago transitioned from Cinderella to cinder block. The one thing Gonzaga has not done is make a Final Four.
Until this year. Gonzaga is loaded in all the right places and led by a senior guard in
The time has come for Gonzaga to knock down that Final Four door.
Kentucky over Gonzaga. The final score will be 70-59. Sometimes you just have stand back and admire greatness. Kentucky becomes the first 40-0 team ever and wins its ninth NCAA title, leaving it two behind UCLA.