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Final Four picks, in order of confidence:
*Louisville (over Duke)
*Florida (over Kansas)
*Indiana (over Marquette)
*Gonzaga (over Ohio State)
I am picking Florida over Louisville in the title game, which is high-risk/high-reward, given that everyone seems to be picking Louisville to win it all (and if not Louisville, then Indiana). It is also totally foolish, given that I am personally rooting for Florida to win it all -- it's like I'm forgetting everything I know about the Quickie jinx.
Yes, I am concerned about picking Gonzaga to the Final Four. There is a certain contrarianism to picking the Zags, given that they are the only 1-seed not to make it to the Final Four on the "national bracket" aggregate of all fans' picks -- a rarity over the past decade. I can understand the impulse to take Ohio State -- the Buckeyes' defense is among the best in the field and Gonzaga has potentially been softened up by playing a cupcake conference schedule.
There is a mind trick about getting behind a (or "the") hot team and getting burned, but this year's Gonzaga team feels closer to a traditional big-conference power than others in years past. (Speaking of which, how many people would be taking Saint Louis to the Elite Eight -- if not Final Four -- if they weren't in Louisville's region? I know I would be.)
There are a handful of specific picks that nag me, in an otherwise chalky bracket: Taking Kansas over VCU... taking Marquette over Butler... taking Duke over Michigan State... and the biggie: Taking Gonzaga over Wisconsin, which underscores how messy my West is: Gonzaga over the two Big Ten Tournament finalists, in addition to going long on Sean Miller and Arizona (taking the 'Cats over New Mexico and into the Sweet 16).
Meanwhile: Happy birthday, Mrs. Quickie -- whose mid-March birthday is right in line with her enthusiasm for the NCAA Tournament.
One more time: Join the Daily Quickie Readers group of the Tournament Challenge.