Our handicapper continues whittling down his bracket with free NCAA Tournament picks for the Elite Eight. Who is the biggest surprise to make it that far in the tourney?
One of the worst parts of filling out a bracket for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is when you make a selection and immediately hope you're wrong about the pick. That feeling came over me as I got to decisions in the West Region for which teams would advance to the Elite Eight.
In the end, however, chalk won out in this division on my bracket, and in the process I'm playing against my heart.
My picks for the last two standing in the West are Oklahoma and Oregon, the two top seeds in that section of the bracket. It's the only region I have the No. 1 seed moving on into the Elite Eight, and that was definitely part of my decision-making process since I really hate to get behind that much chalk, especially given what a crazy year it has been.
What I hope happens is my Texas Aggies beat Texas in the Round of 32, then topple Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 before beating Baylor to go to the Final Four. That's what I hope, but I just don't see it happening and neither do the NCAA Tournament Odds. Picking Duke to beat Baylor means Texas A&M won't even get that opportunity should the Aggies upset the Sooners in the Sweet 16.
Baylor is definitely a team that could get past Oregon, though my gut tells me they won't get that chance after the Blue Devils beat Baylor in the Field of 32. I know, Duke is never a popular pick, but there's still a part of me that loves it when Duke haters are disappointed, especially if those Duke haters are Baylor fans.
'Nova & Terps To Survive In The South
I must be crazy picking Villanova to make it to the Sweet 16, and downright certifiable to push the Wildcats even further into the Elite Eight. Then again, I've been a bit nuts my whole life and simply think this is the year Jay Wright's experienced team gets over the hump to make it to the South Region Finals.
The Wildcats will get past Wichita State to advance, and then meet up with Maryland who I have taking down Kansas in the Sweet 16. I wasn't even sold on the Jayhawks reaching the South Region Semifinals, and still think that a matchup with Connecticut could end KU's season in Round 2.
Though the Terrapins fell off a bit from mid-February on, losing four of their final six regular season matchups before falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semis, I like the team Mark Turgeon will take to Louisville. There's balanced scoring and a great mix of upperclassmen along with sophs and freshmen on the roster.
ACC Top Seeds To Be Spectators During Elite Eight
Sorry ACC, but my crystal ball says you aren't going to have any teams make it to the Elite Eight. That's good news for Big Ten fans since three of their schools will make it that far, Maryland obviously one of them in the South.
There's no doubt in my mind that North Carolina is a much better all-around team than Kentucky, and yet, it will be the Wildcats who advance in the East Region along with West Virginia, the Mountaineers getting past Pittsburgh in Philadelphia.
Our last stop on the Elite Eight tour is Chicago, home of the Midwest Region and one of the easier picks for this round in Michigan State. The Spartans will make quick work of Utah in the regional semis, and then we'll get a rematch of the Big Ten Championship after Purdue takes down Virginia in the top half of the Midwest bracket.
Make sure to check back tomorrow when I reveal my free Free NCAA Tournament Picks for the Final Four.
My NCAA Tournament Picks: East (Kentucky, West Virginia); West (Purdue, Michigan State); South (Maryland, Villanova), Midwest (Oregon, Oklahoma)