I'm picking Butler to beat Michigan State and Duke to beat West Virginia.
Now that it's settled that we'll actually see a Michigan State-West Virginia championship game, let's focus on the real issue:
I haven't read anyone yet who argues with certainty about the result of either semifinal. That's partly a function of compelling arguments for each team and partly a function of the sheer unpredictability of this year's Tournament.
That makes it particularly fun. I am won over by what I saw last weekend: No team went through a tougher regional path than Butler. And Duke -- perhaps with a little help from some gift calls -- proved that they aren't as chokey as previous editions.
(That said: Giving Izzo 6 days to prepare for a Tournament game feels like path to MSU winning. And we already know from 2008 that West Virginia has Duke's number in the Tournament. But, too little too late, I'm trying not to let past performance influence future results.)
I had to lead today's SN column with my Final Four preview, but if I had my choice, I would have led with yet another defense of the expansion of the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams.
I'm working on a longer argument that I'll post later, but my larger point isn't that 64 isn't great.
It's that the hysterics in the basketball media are absurd, and that expanding the Tournament won't "ruin" anything. When you look at how people actually consume college basketball -- and the NCAA Tournament -- there is nothing to suggest the dire consequences that the college hoops intelligentsia would have you believe.
Anyway, I just deleted 500 words that I was going to put here about it, because I want to save it for a separate post.
More you'll find in today's column:
*UConn over Baylor by 30?
*Aminu will go Top 10, if not Top 5.
*MLB Opener is a sneak-peek of my pick for World Series champs (but I won't tell you whether I'm picking the Yankees to repeat or the Red Sox to re-assert themselves until next week).
*If the Rams were smart, they would skip Bradford, take Suh first, then pick up Colt McCoy in the 2nd.
Check out the complete SN column here. More later.