I've always filled out a bracket, and this year is no different. I was going to post a little segment of why I picked who I picked, but that's a lot of games and I'm a lazy guy. I'll give you my Elite Eight, and break down who gets into the Final Four and ultimately wins.
I struggled mightily with the top seeds in this bracket. I'm a Duke fan, and I've never taken anyone but Duke to win the tournament before. Ever. Until this year. They're just not that good. I have them getting to the Elite Eight against Kentucky, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were to get bounced by Baylor. Baylor's extremely athletic, and they would be a real tough matchup for the Blue Devils. I think Kentucky steam rolls through this region, and if they played Duke they might win by 35.
I love Missouri in this region. I think they'll beat Louisville in the Elite Eight, as I think Louisville can give Michigan State a lot of trouble. I think due to their style they can play with the Spartans and stay in the game. If they're close late in the game they can win it, and I think they will. Missouri is just too balanced between their bigs and their guards, and they also have a real nice mix of athletes and skilled players.
I'll just point it out, I think Syracuse has a real tough matchup against Kansas State. They have enough size to own the glass against the poor rebounding team that is Syracuse. Wisconsin will beat Kansas State and then fall to Ohio State in the Elite Eight. Ohio State worries me a hair due to the fact that they're exactly the same team as they've been all year. The name of the game is peaking at the right time, and I can't say Ohio State is doing that, as they haven't peaked all year. That being said, I think they're the most solid and consistent team in this region.
Outside of Kentucky, Carolina is the most talented team in the country. They're truly unbelievable, and as much as it pains me, nobody's beating them in this region. They'll top Kansas in the Elite Eight, but they're the better team. I think North Carolina State will be a surprise in this region, I really like the way they've been playing, they gave Carolina a run for their money in the ACC Tournament. I think they'll beat Belmont who will upset Georgetown, and then eventually fall to Kansas.
The Kentucky-Missouri game will be an instant classic. Both of these teams are athletic enough to play at a high paced, frenetic game, but they're also skilled enough to put up points in the half court. I think Kentucky wins this, but I wouldn't be surprised in the least bit if Missouri were to win that game.
The Carolina-Ohio State game will not be an instant classic. Carolina has too much size inside, especially if Henson is able to play, and Sullinger will have trouble putting up his usual monster numbers against Zeller and Henson. Throw in the fact that Kendall Marshall has the best vision, and is the best point guard in college basketball, and Harrison Barnes is probably the second most NBA ready player in the NCAA. Carolina will win this game fairly easily.
This game, much like Kentucky-Missouri, will be one of the best games in a long time. Both of these teams have immense talent, athleticism, and length. They're by far the best two teams in the country. However, Carolina will ultimately win the game. Not only are they by far the more experienced team, but they're deeper, and they have the better in-game coach in Roy Williams. Calipari is a fantastic recruiter, but he's an average coach when it comes to making adjustments during the game. Roy Williams is fantastic, and he'll surely have an impact on this game. I just don't see anyone stopping Carolina, and this is coming from a life-long Duke fan.