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March Madness Final Four, Darkhorses and Champion Predictions

March 15, 2012

The SOUTH: Kentucky

Looking at everyone’s brackets, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite. Though they enter the tournament losing the SEC Championship game to a rising Vanderbilt team, few teams have managed to contain Anthony Davis. If they get matched up with IU in the Sweet 16, it’s hard to see the Hoosiers beating them twice in the same year.

Darkhorse: Duke

The No. 2 seed, Duke, is the only team that could, at will, give Kentucky a run. The Plumlee brothers could contain Davis and have guards to match up with Kentucky’s quick play.

The WEST: Michigan St.

Watching the Big Ten Championship game was enough proof to say the Spartans are Final Four bound. MSU has an all around game that many teams have a hard time defending. When MSU makes runs it is when they are most dangerous as they have streaky shooters along with Green and Nix who can run the floor and play down low.

Darkhorse: Louisville, Missouri

Louisville comes in red hot winning the elusive Big East Tournament and look to keep the momentum going. The team matches up well against MSU with their quick guard, Peyton Siva, and with 6-11 Gorgui Dieng, the lesser-known Anthony Davis, defending down low that boasts one of the best defenses in the country.

Missouri also comes in winning their conference tournament in the Big 12. The Tigers have three players that can knock down the 3 and play fast paced basketball that doesn’t turn the ball over much. They are the safest “live and die by the 3” team out there.

The EAST: Ohio St.

The Buckeyes have a good clear shot at making the Final Four with the absence of Syracuse’s Fab Melo. OSU had a strong showing against the best playing team in America at the time: Michigan St. Sullinger and Thomas come into the tourney playing some of their best basketball. I’m a big fan of a player like Craft who can be a pain to reckon with. He pushes the pace and is in your face, which is a great attribute to have in the tournament setting.

Darkhorse: Florida St.

A team that can beat Duke then North Carolina is no team to underestimate. It was difficult deciding between Florida State and Ohio State because the ‘Noles are the real deal. Both teams are similar, but the edge is to OSU because they create less turnovers and have more consistent offensive threats.

The MIDWEST: North Carolina

The North Carolina story is similar to when they won the whole thing in 2009. A star is hurt and a team’s success is swayed by a player’s health. It was Ty Lawson then, now it’s John Henson. Expecting him to be at least 80% is enough give them the green light to the Final Four. Zeller is playing the best basketball of his career and protects the bucket well. North Carolina always brings their A-game to the Big Dance.

Darkhorse: None

North Carolina will win this Regional.

National Championship Pick: Kentucky

Kentucky has been the team to beat all year, as they are the complete package that can play D, score, and control a game’s tempo, doing it better than any team in the nation. Team-wise, the Wildcats own the best front seven out there; stopping Anthony Davis will not be enough as they have five other scorers than can drop double-digits in any given game.

Kentucky over N. Carolina 66-62

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