The Final Four is set and for the most part it is as expected. Sure Michigan State slipped in as a number seven but they were probably under seeded anyway. There are three number one seeds and then the Spartans.
The problem that people run in to when picking their brackets is they try to get too cute. They go with a “Cinderella” sliding into the Final Four or the Championship game. They say they had a “feeling” that number 14 Cleveland State or 15 Winthrop would get hot and run the table. It’s not going to happen.
There are always a few upsets in the first couple of rounds, a number five might beat a 12, but when it comes to the Elite Eight and Final Four, when the chumps have been weeded out, it’s the highest ranked teams still breathing. Did you know that a #16 has never beaten a #1 and there has never been a team seeded lower than 11 to make the Final Four? And that has only happened three times.
LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 all made the Final Four as number 11 seeds but that was it. The lowest seeds ever to make championship game was UCLA in 1980 and Villanova in 1985 – both as a number eight.
This year Villanova was a number one seed in the East but was the only number one to get knocked out as Duke, Wisconsin and Kentucky all made it. So if you want to be successful in your bracket just go chalk. If you have a couple of hunches go with them in the first round but don’t pick a 16 to beat a one. Even a 15 over a 2 may ruin your bracket. Valparaiso and Georgia State are good stories but it’s the Kentuckys and Dukes of the world that will be on top when it counts.
We keep hearing about Duke Freshman Jahlil Okafor being the number one pick in the NBA draft but it’s the other Freshman, Justise Winslow, that has been the best player for the Blue Devils in the tournament.
Did anybody really think UCLA would beat Gonzaga? Steve Alford took this team about as far as it could go. On the bright side, with Norman Powell (senior) and Kevon Looney (one and done) as the only key players leaving, the Bruins future looks good.
Who wins it all? I’ll go out on a limb and say Kentucky. The Wildcats had their scare against Notre Dame. All that did was wake them up. Kentucky beats Duke by seven. Chalk it up.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40