Monday, March 15, 2010

Picking NCAA Brackets: Kansas, Duh

I just filed my annual column making my bracket picks for the Wall Street Journal. After last year's worst-ever 12th-percentile finish, I explained that my system has gone through an overhaul -- the equivalent of gastric-bypass surgery (uh, "bracket-bypass surgery?").

No more empty calories and super-sized portions, represented by too-clever-by-half over-thinking. Portion control.

I'll post it when it is live, but I'm ready to reveal my bracket now, a sneak peek for

Champ: Kansas
Final Four: Kansas over Syracuse, Kentucky over Villanova.

1st Rd: 1 Kansas, 8 UNLV, 5 Mich St, 4 Maryland
11 San Diego St, 3 G'town, 7 Oklahoma St, 2 Ohio St.
Regional: Kansas, Michigan St, G'town, Ohio State.
Midwest champ: Kansas over G'town.

Analysis: Chalk (except SDSU over Tennessee). 5 Mich St over 4 Maryland isn't an upset. 3 G'town over 2 Ohio St isn't an upset (but it is iffy). Yes, Kansas has a tough path, but they are also clearly the best team in the country. This region is rugged but predictable.

1st Rd: 1 Cuse, 8 Gonzaga, 5 Butler, 4 Vandy
6 Xavier, 3 Pitt, 7 BYU, 2 Kansas State
Regional: Cuse, Butler, Xavier, K-State
West champ: Cuse over Xavier

Analysis: Chalk 1st round. I don't consider Xavier over Pitt an upset, if you know X-Men's Tourney history. (Same with Xavier over K-State. OK, so I'm in the tank for Xavier.) Yes, BYU over Florida, ending the Gators' NCAA Tournament winning streak at 12.

1st Rd: 1 Kentucky, 8 Texas, 12 Cornell, 4 Wisco
11 Washington, 3 New Mex, 10 Mizzou, 2 WVU
Regional: Kentucky, Wisco, Washington, WVU
East champ: Kentucky over West Virginia

Analysis: I'm suckered for Cornell (Temple is under-seeded). Wisconsin will give Kentucky its toughest game. I feel OK not buying New Mexico; but I can envision great regret taking Washington, won't I?

1st Rd: 1 Duke, 9 L'ville, 12 Utah St, 13 Siena
6 Notre Dame, 3 Baylor, 7 Richmond, 2 Nova
Regional: Duke, Utah St, Baylor, Nova
South champ: Nova over Duke.

Analysis: I couldn't take Duke to win the region. You knew that. I am obsessed with the Spokane sub-region: Purdue is the worst over-seed since Cincinnati as a 1 in 2000, and Utah State will have huge "home-ish" support in Spokane. I may be a year too late on Nova, and merely trying to make up for taking UCLA over Nova in the 2nd round from last year: My debacle.

OK, let's get to your picks. Don't forget to get into the Daily Quickie Readers Tournament Challenge. The original returns!

-- D.S.

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