by Nick Ferraro
~Our Vegas expert gives his perspective on the NCAA Tournament
The NCCA tournament is here.
There will be wild finishes, great drama, and intense competition. What will make this yearâ€™s dance unlike the rest â€“ the lack of madness. The analysts will cite how balanced the field is, theyâ€™ll talk about parity, and theyâ€™ll tell us how there is no clear-cut favorite. They will tell us that all these things will lead us to an especially wild run to the Final Four.
Donâ€™t bet on it.
There will be upsets, but a stone cold case of sanity will be the theme this year, and the usual suspects will make their way to the Final Four.
Here is a look at how the tourney will shake down bracket by bracket. Weâ€™ll give you the winner, a bracket buster, and our pick to cut down the nets in St. Louis.
If Illinois can make it past the early rounds theyâ€™ll be rewarded with a couple of games at home in Chicago. Theyâ€™ll be there for a match up with Oklahoma State. The Cowboys get their early games–at home–in Oklahoma City. Arizona is the fashionable pick, but they lack the strength to match the Cowboys. If thereâ€™s a surprise at all, it will come from LSU. The sixth seed has the horses to keep up with Arizona and the firepower to outscore Oklahoma State. Illinois will benefit from the home cookinâ€™ to get through the region.
Washington was a surprise number-one seed. The selection committee didnâ€™t do them any favors though, as Albuquerque is the deepest of the four regions. Louisville is ranked fourth in the nation, but only merited a fourth seed in this bracket. How did that happen? The best second-round match up will come from this region when the Cardinals and ACC runner-up Georgia Tech meet. The bracket buster in the southwest will be UCLA. The Bruins should send Texas Tech and Gonzaga packing before the Demon Deacons end the Bruin run. Wake will cut the nets down with a win over the top seeded Huskies in the regional final.
Florida is hot, but the Gators canâ€™t match up along the front line with North Carolina. Carolina has been inconsistent at times, but should make the regional final. Kansas will take down defending champion Connecticut to face the Tarheels. If there is any bracket- busting here, it will come from Villanova. The Wildcats had won eight straight before West Virginia edged them out of the Big East tournament. Carolina will get the best of the Jayhawks in Syracuse.
Itâ€™s good to be Duke. Austin is the weakest bracket, and the Blue Devils will waltz to the Final Four. The media will pump the match-up between Duke and Syracuse, but the ACC champs will use the three-pointer to open up the Orangemenâ€™s zone defense. Iowa is our bracket-buster in Texas. The Hawkeyes will bounce Cincinnati, and they have what it takes to upset an over-rated Kentucky team.
Three ACC will teams make the final four, and Duke will handle Wake Forest in the final to win the crown. This yearâ€™s tournament will have just as much excitement as any other year despite the lack of upsets. The parity will result in more close games than ever but with more predictable results. The NCAA tournament is the best sports spectacle going, and this year will be no different even though it will make near perfect sense.