I don't like UConn. Not one bit. But somehow, they ended up in my Final Four. I'm not sure how I arrived there, but I have my NCAA picks, and I employed a strategy of sorts, but I don't know how I feel about this bracket. It's that uncertain period, less than 24 hours from tip-off of the first games, where I'm tempted to start all over....but I need to stick with my first instincts.
Here's a quick overview of my strategy - for the games where my gut instinct was "unsure", I consulted some numbers. cbssports.com has a cool link where you can check out head-to-head stats for any two teams in the country, so I compared turnovers, field goal pct., free throw pct., points per game, and even some schedules to find the teams that I thought would win. (Oddly, I still went against some of my instincts, when I picked the team with more turnovers, or with a worse free throw percentage - I can't explain it.) Also interesting, if my bracket turns out well, there will be some really evenly-matched teams matching up in the later rounds.
So here I'll quickly break down my regions, because it's my blog and I can, and because none of you are really in the same pool as me, so I don't care if you steal my picks:
EAST: North Carolina is the only team I'm sure of here. I think they're the best team in the country, and I have them going all the way. I waffled on the 8-9, I picked Arkansas, but the more I look at it, the more I think Indiana will win. Notre Dame has two rounds in them, but loses to UNC. I like St. Joe's as an 11, Louisville, Butler, and Butler to beat Tennessee. UNC over Louisville (after beating fellow Big Easter Notre Dame) to get to the Final Four.
MIDWEST: Kansas over Kent St. Clemson will beat Vanderbilt, but lose to Kansas. USC outscores Michael Beasley, then loses to Wisconsin. Georgetown over 10 seed Davidson, then over Wisconsin. And Kansas outlasts Georgetown to get to the Final Four.
SOUTH: Memphis is OK for two rounds, but I don't buy them, like I don't buy Tennessee. They don't win games they're supposed to win. Michigan State is a good tournament team, usually I pick against them, but I have them beating Temple, then Pittsburgh. Marquette goes two rounds as a 6 seed, upsetting Stanford. St. Mary's will beat Miami, then lose to Texas. Texas beats everyone in this region - Marquette, then Memphis, to get to the Final Four.
WEST: What did I do here? I'm not sure. I don't like UCLA - they only won the Pac-10 because of a couple of squeakers and missed calls. So I have them getting upset by BYU (?!?! - I don't know why I pick games like this. But I like the way BYU matches up - please, let them beat Texas A & M, at least). Western Kentucky is my 12 over a 5, and then I think UConn barely gets by them. Baylor is the second 11 seed I have, but I have them then losing to Xavier. And West Virginia advances a round, then loses to Duke. Here's where I have some problems - I like Xavier to beat Duke, and I can'thave BYU going to the Elite Eight (can I?), so it's UConn versus Xavier, with UConn, in my opinion, more likely to go to the Final Four. But every year, one of my brackets is a disaster. Hello, disastrous East.
It's North Carolina over Kansas, Texas over UConn, and North Carolina over Texas for the championship.
What's your Final Four? Put it in the comments.