While the South, West, and Midwest Regions went pretty much according to plan, there were upsets on the NCAA basketball odds in the East as March Madness heads to the Sweet 16.
Are losses by Villanova and Duke to become Baylor's gain? It certainly looks that way following another exciting year of upsets in the opening two rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
My March Madness bracket is still in decent shape overall with 11 correct picks to make the Sweet 16, and three of my four choices to go to Phoenix a little less than two weeks from now. But only one of my four choices in the East Region made it to the Sweet 16, meaning it's time to update my free college basketball picks with another look at Final Four predictions.
The biggest bracket-busters were defending champ and No. 1 overall seed Villanova falling in the round of 32 on Saturday, followed by No. 2 Duke being ousted on Sunday. The only one of my Sweet 16 picks to make it in this region is No. 4 Florida, and the Gators will meet No. 8 Wisconsin to determine who goes to the Elite Eight. It's hard not to like the Badgers after the performance they put on vs. 'Nova.
I had Duke and SMU meeting in the Elite Eight down in the bottom half of the region, and instead, it will be No. 3 seed Baylor against No. 7 South Carolina. The Bears used solid defense in taking down New Mexico State and USC, and I like them to end any ideas Frank Martin and the Gamecocks have of advancing. In the East Region showdown, I'm taking the Badgers to finally stop Baylor.
Pac-12 Entries Still Get The Nod In West & Midwest
Sticking with the rest of my original Final Four picks, though how they get to Phoenix has changed a bit. Out in the West, two of my Sweet 16 selections remain, Gonzaga and Arizona, and I like that pair to square off for the regional title after tough matchups. The 'Zags now face No. 4 West Virginia, and I see a low-scoring affair with the Bulldogs coming out on top.
No. 2 Arizona has to battle a surprising No. 11 Xavier following the Musketeers posting upsets over No. 6 Maryland and No. 3 Florida State. All of that was impressive, but the Wildcats deny Xavier and then knock off Gonzaga to head to the Final Four.
In the Midwest, three of my choices made it -- No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Oregon and No. 7 Michigan. Big Ten regular season champ Purdue, seeded fourth in the region, is the final team. I've seen quite a few experts picking an all-Big Ten regional final -- the Boilermakers and Wolverines are 4½ and 1½ point underdogs, respectively, at Bookmaker -- but I still like Kansas and Oregon to play for the crown, and the Ducks to advance.
Blue-Blood Programs Rule South
If only the other three regions looked as good as my South quadrant. I went 11-1 in those 12 games, the only mistake having No. 9 Seton Hall over No. 8 Arkansas, and the four I had going to the Sweet 16 all remain.
No. 2 seed Kentucky is a slight underdog against No. 3 UCLA in a rematch from early-December when the Bruins upset the Wildcats in Lexington getting 10½ on the NCAA basketball odds. I like John Calipari's crew this time, and after No. 1 seed North Carolina stops No. 4 Butler, let's stick with the Wildcats over the Tar Heels to fill out my Final Four.
Once they get to Phoenix, my early leans are Kentucky over Oregon and Arizona beating Wisconsin. In front of a biased Phoenix crowd, I like the Wildcats to cut down the nets.Final Four Picks: Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon, Wisconsin
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