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Basketball: For better or worse, my NCAA picks

By Jeff Faraudo
Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 10:22 pm in Basketball, NCAA Tournament.

BREAKING NEWS: Center Fab Melo of Syracuse was ruled academically ineligible Tuesday and will NOT play in the NCAA tournament. Melo averages 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Obviously, that alters the landscape dramatically. If you’re looking for my thoughts on how to fill out your bracket — and I’m still not sure that’s a roadmap to retirement — you will find the changes to my bracket below.

My NCAA bracket, but a few observations first:

– Toughest region: Syracuse, Ohio State, Florida State, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt. The East is a beast.

– Cal: I’m as curious as anyone about whether the Bears can find their game again. They have played one good half over the past four games. If they aren’t overwhelmed by the size and length of USF’s interior defense, I think they can score enough to win this game. Then, while they beat Temple a year ago, the turnaround after traveling to Nashville will be tough for a tired team with no depth.

– Saint Mary’s: I’m intrigued to see how the Gaels fare as a favorite. For so long, they’ve been a great little underdog story. Better than anyone imagined, They’re not surprising anyone anymore.

Here are my picks — use them in your office pool at your own peril:

SOUTH
First Four
Western Kentucky d. Mississippi Valley State
Second Round
Kentucky d. Western Kentucky
Iowa State d. UConn
Wichita State d. VCU
Indiana d. New Mexico State
Colorado d. UNLV
Baylor d. South Dakota State
Notre Dame d. Xavier
Duke d. Lehigh
Third Round
Kentucky d. Iowa State
Indiana d. Wichita State
Baylor d. Colorado
Duke d. Notre Dame
Regional Semifinals
Kentucky d. Indiana
Baylor d. Duke
Regional Final
Kentucky d. Baylor

WEST
First Four
BYU d. Iona
Second Round
Michigan State d. Long Island
St. Louis vs. Memphis
New Mexico d. Long Beach State
Louisville d. Davidson
Murray State d. Colorado State
Marquette d. BYU
Virginia d. Florida
Missouri d. Norfolk State
Third Round
Michigan State d. New Mexico
New Mexico d. Louisville
Marquette d. Murray State
Missouri d. Virginia
Regional Semifinals
Michigan State d. New Mexico
Missouri d. Marquette
Regional Final
Missouri d. Michigan State

EAST
Second Round
Syracuse d. UNC Ashville
Kansas State d. Southern Miss
Vanderbilt d. Harvard
Wisconsin d. Montana
Cincinnati d. Texas
Florida State d, St. Bonaventure
West Virginia d. Gonzaga
Ohio State d. Loyola-Md
Third Round
Syracuse d. Kansas State
Vanderbilt d. Wisconsin
Florida State d. Cincinnati
Ohio State d. West Virginia
Regional Semifinals
Syracuse d. Vanderbilt Vanderbilt d. Syracuse
Florida State d. Ohio State
Regional Final
Syracuse d. Florida State Florida State d. Vanderbilt

MIDWEST
First Four
Lamar d. Vermont
Cal d. South Florida
Second Round
North Carolina d. Lamar
Creighton d. Alabama
Temple d. Cal
Michigan d. Ohio
San Diego State d. North Carolina State
Georgetown d. Belmont
Purdue d. Saint Mary’s
Kansas d. Detroit
Third Round
North Carolina d. Creighton
Michigan d. Temple
San Diego State d. Georgetown
Kansas d. Purdue
Regional Semifinals
North Carolina d. Michigan
Kansas d. San Diego State
Regional Final
Kansas d. North Carolina

FINAL FOUR
National Semifinals
Syracuse d. Kansas Kansas d. Florida State
Missouri d. Kentucky
Championship
Syracuse d. Missouri Missouri d. Kansas

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  • Mitchie V

    As much as I want to disagree, Cal’s Wednesday night game followed by an early East coast Friday morning game makes it VERY difficult to hope for another win.

    Maybe Colorado can make some noise for the Pac 12.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Not bad Jeff and I too would like to thank you for your reporting.

    I can never pick against Cal or Indiana. I am always optimistic and like Wisdom Cow think we are better than Temple.

    Indiana should beat wichita State but they are one of the most underrated teams in the country.
    As for Kentucky they beat them earlier on the play Senior Verdell Jones made- He got injured last week and is out.

    I don’t agree with NM over Louisville,nor Florida State over Ohio State not a chance there. Finally I don’t agree with Baylor over Duke – Duke is a great road team.

    Finally I see Long Island University is in. Once upon a time they were a powerhouse and I believe it was them who played for an NCAA Championship. One year they had a 43 game winning streak and a number one ranking when they played Stanford. Stanford had a guy Hank Lousetti (Sp) who may have developed the first jump shot. LIU was confounded and lost.

  • http://thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    Temple?

    Cal would beat Temple even if they had to play them 15 minutes after beating USF.

    Cal would beat Temple with only 4 players.

    2012 – It’s the Mayan prophecy – you take December 21, that’s 12/21, add the 2s and add the 1s, you get 4/2, the date of the Finals. What could possibly be a greater indication for the upcoming bactun than the Golden Bears winning 7 straight for the NCAA Championship?

    The whole damned world IS bear territory!

  • Gobears49

    Jeff,

    Can you (or anyone else) explain why Cal, playing in the “first four” and thus is one of the last four teams selected, gets a No. 12 seed? I would think they would be playing for a #16 if they were one of the last teams selected. Alternatively, if Cal or South Florida are playing for a #12 seed, why aren’t they both automatically in the tournament if they will be ranked higher, seeding wise, if they win their play-in game, and the #15 and #16 teams now listed (in two regions) not playing in the “first four.”

    I’m really confused about this and have never seen an explanation that answers my questions.

  • http://thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    I added Faraudo’s picks to the ESPN Tournament Challenge group “Gang BANG” so there will be easy reference (JW’s, too) for gloating, or cringing in shame, purposes.

  • Esquire Joe

    Jeff,

    In the West 3rd round, I think you mean Michigan State d. ST. LOUIS (who, I assume you had over Memphis).

    GoBears: The 14-16 seeds are largely automatic qualifiers from smaller conferences. The bubble teams from the majors and mid-majors are always fighting for the last few at-large bids, which are the 12s and 13s.

  • http://thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    Jeff, I updated your picks. The do a tie-breaker finals score. So, I put you down for Mizzou 80, Kansas 77. Update a score if you don’t want to go with that. I’d hate to lose the 10k in your name with the wrong score you got from your Magic 8 Ball (what other source could possibly have Cal lose to Temple?).

  • Tdogg

    Actually, if Cal gets past USF, they will play Temple in one of the evening games on friday at 9:50 ET. So they won’t be playing in the morning and therefore can’t use that as an excuse. Go Bears! Beat USF!