Well, we’re down to eight teams in the NCAA Tournament, and who could have asked for a better set of matchups?  We all know that the tournament started off a bit shaky, with so many top dogs going down early.  But the cream has risen to the top and we are left with the potential of four outstanding games this weekend in the battles to get to the final four.

First of all, I have to acknowledge that the bracket gods actually did a pretty good job in their initial seedings.  You don’t agree?  Not a problem.  But let’s take a look which teams are still standing.

In the East, #1 Syracuse is still alive, even without their big guy in the middle.  They will be facing #2 Ohio State.  Looks like they got those seeds right.

In the Midwest, #1 North Carolina will square off with #2 Kansas.  Once again, they were on the money.

Over on the South bracket, #1 Kentucky will take on #3 Baylor.  Not too shabby, although we all know they blew it when they seeded Duke as a #2.

Finally, things were shaken but not stirred (a little Bond humor there) out in the West region, where the top three seeds all got knocked out, leaving us with #4 Louisville taking on #7 Florida for the final spot in the Final Four.

So what does that say for the initial seeding gurus?  Well look at it this way.  If their initial seedings were to be interpreted as their entries into the office pool, they would still have five of their eight picks alive right now.  How does that compare to your’s?  It matches mine (although I would have had six out of eight if I hadn’t changed my mind about Syracuse, but that’s a sob story for another time).

So what’s going to happen this weekend?  Here are my thoughts.

Kentucky vs Baylor — this one played out exactly as I had predicted, so I’m sticking with my original pick of Kentucky.  I think it’s a safe bet.  Nothing against Baylor, they’re a very exciting team to watch, but Kentucky is the real deal.  Just ask any of the three previous opponents.  They all lost by double digits!

Syracuse vs Ohio state — I had initially picked Syracuse to go all the way, then changed things when they lost Fab Melo for the tournament for academic reasons (see MARCH MADNESS — I’M TAKING A MULLIGAN, 3/13/12).  I’d like to think that my initial gut feeling was still correct, but I think the party is about to come to an end for the Orangemen.  Ohio State seems to be clicking right now and Syracuse really should have lost two out of three of their games so far.  Look for the Buckeyes to wrap this one up with five minutes remaining in the game.

North Carolina vs Kansas — Another bracket that ended up exactly as I had predicted.  I originally chose Kansas to win this one, even though everyone told me I was nuts, since North Carolina was the only team that had a chance to beat Kentucky in the final game.  (A flawed train of thought, I might add, since Kentucky is not involved in this game!)  I will admit that I would not be surprised if the Tar Heels won this one, since Kansas has had to battle for their lives in the last two games.  However, they have also played tougher teams than North Carolina so far in this tournament, so I’m going to roll the dice and stick with my original choice of Kansas.

Louisville vs Florida — This is the region that destroyed most people’s brackets.  Most chose Michigan State or Missouri to come out of this bracket (I chose Missouri), so not very many people expected to see this matchup.  This is the only region that the seeding gurus missed, but then we all did, too.  I must admit, going into the tournament, I had my eye on three teams as possible dark horses, but only stuck with one — North Carolina State, who lasted exactly as long as I predicted.  However, I didn’t pay attention to my gut on either one of these two teams.  I had Florida losing in round two to Missouri and Louisville losing in round three to Michigan State.  I know, totally irrelevant, but I had to explain anyway!  So who wins this matchup?  Florida can sure put up the points, but they tend to turn the ball over.  Louisville has shown that their defense is top notch (just ask the Spartans).  I’m going with the Cardinals to win a close game!

Enjoy the weekend games and we’ll see you in the Final Four!



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