Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the 2012 NCAA tournament, offering their picks for the Final Four. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.
Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel
It’s going to be a two-state affair in the Final Four: Duke and North Carolina and Florida State and Florida.
And as Dickie Vee might say, “Watch out for the Sunshine State sizzler for the national title, bay-beeee!”
The Seminoles have already beaten Duke and North Carolina twice each this season and have the capability of beating anybody in their bracket, including No. 1 seed Syracuse, which will be without its star big man, Fab Melo.
The Gators, even though they are a No. 7 seed, are in a bracket that I believe has the weakest No. 1 seed (Michigan State) and weakest No. 2 seed (Missouri) in the entire tournament. Billy Donovan is one of the greatest coaches in college basketball and will have an advantage over most other coaches he will face in the tournament. Not only that, but the three-point shot is the great equalizer, and the Gators have more treys this year than any team in the country.
Spring football practice will have to wait.
It will be Gators-Seminoles for the national title -- in basketball!
Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune
Barring a repeat of last season’s party-crashing Final Four of low seeds, I expect to see No. 1 Kentucky, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Missouri and No. 3 Florida State reach New Orleans. The Wildcats have all the making of championship team with their scoring ability (77.1 points per game), length inside and star power with freshman Anthony Davis. They’ll face Mizzou in the Final Four, after the Tigers throw wrenches at everyone along the way who either couldn’t keep up with their speed and athleticism or couldn’t figure out their four-guard lineup.
On the other side of the bracket, Florida State enters the tournament with more momentum than almost anyone. The Seminoles have reserves of confidence after taking down both Duke and North Carolina twice this season and winning the ACC tournament. North Carolina is a lock with its loaded roster led by Harrison Barnes. Expectations of John Henson returning from a wrist injury boost the Tar Heels’ chances.
[Updated at 1:31 p.m.:
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
Let’s go with Western Kentucky, Brigham Young, Lamar and California. Oh, sorry, this question is about the Last Four?
In picking the Final Four this year, I tried the Food Channel approach and tried to mix basic ingredients with two shakers of spice. The easy approach is picking all four No. 1 teams, but that’s only happened once, in 2008, with UCLA, Memphis, North Carolina and Kansas.
I’ve picked top rock-solid choices in Kentucky and North Carolina because I think they’re the best to teams in the field. I have third-seeded Florida State coming out of the East because any school that beats North Carolina and Duke twice in one season deserves respect.
Every bracket needs a wild card, like No. 11 George Mason in 2006, so I’ve dubbed No. 6 Murray State out of the West. The Racers have lost ONE game this year with impressive wins over Memphis and St. Mary’s. You also need a top point guard to reach the Final Four and Murray State has one in Cousy Award candidate Isaiah Canaan.]