Greensboro, N.C. — Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco, now in its 23rd years, begins with an assessment of Georgia Tech: It got in, which is good; it got in the absolute toughest regional, which is less good. I’ve been thinking all season the Jackets have Final Four capability. Alas, I can’t see the No. 10 seed emerging from the mighty Midwest.
Then again, I’ve been wrong before, and I’m sure I’ll be wrong about 95 percent of these NCAA tournament picks. As ever, I invite you to play along in our online contest. The Fiasco prize is the accustomed and coveted Final Four sweatshirt, but this year if you enter our contest you’ll be automatically enrolled in a national pick-’em and you’ll have a chance to win $1 million.
OK, my picks. (I know you’re getting anxious.) Ohio State might be the only team in the country that can beat Kansas on a neutral floor, and somewhere the two got jammed into the same regional. I like the Jackets to get by Oklahoma State in the first round — I recall Tech beating the Cowboys in the Big Dance not long ago — but see the Jackets’ run ending there. The Buckeyes will take them down in Round 2, and the winner of the KU-OSU regional final in St. Louis will claim the national championship.
To the West: The temptation is great to pick Florida State, somehow only a No. 9 seed, over Syracuse in Round 2, but the Seminoles don’t make enough jump shots to beat the Orange zone. This tepid region will spawn a slew of upsets. (Try Murray State over Vanderbilt. Or BYU over Kansas State in Round 2. Or sixth-seeded Xavier reaching the regional final.) But nobody out here is beating the ‘Cuse.
Another great regional final looms in the East: Kentucky versus West Virginia. I’m intrigued by No. 3 seed New Mexico — former Jacket Craig Neal is Steve Alford’s chief assistant — but that’s the only team capable of spoiling the Wildcat/Mountaineer border war. On toughness and seasoning, I like the Mountaineers. What I don’t like: Two really good upset choices — No. 12 Cornell and No. 13 Wofford — are stuffed into the same subregional. (But don’t be shocked when Wofford reaches the Sweet Sixteen.)
In the South, Duke got a nice seed but an awful draw. The Blue Devils be oustedin Round 2 by Louisville, which is coached by Rick Pitino, who nearly eliminated Mike Krzyzewski’s best team 18 years ago but neglected to guard the inbounder. Here’s guessing he will this time. I’m also guessing the South final will be an all-Big East convocation, with Villanova — which hasn’t played well lately but landed a No. 2 seed in the softest region — skipping past Pitino’s Cards.
So that makes three Big East reps in the Final Four, none of which will win the NCAA title. West Virginia will reach the title game, where it will be undone by … drum roll, please … Kansas. Ohio State is playing beautifully and Evan Turner has been the nation’s MVP, but the Jayhawks have been the most consistent team all season. They have everything you need to win: Point guard in Sherron Collins, big man in Cole Aldrich, coach in Bill Self.
It’s against my nature ever to go with the chalk, but this time I am. I’m going with rock-chalkers. I’m going with KU. (Even though I swore years ago I’d never ever pick Kansas again. Consistency, I say, is the hobgoblin of small minds. And lousy brackets.)
And now I await your picks. Please enter. Please check your brackets often. And please don’t make too many unkind remarks about my picks. I get mighty sensitive this time of year.
And if you’d like to see my entire bracket, complete with idiotic upset picks, it can be found here.