Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Frozen Four and Final Four Picks

I love hockey, especially college hockey, and it was a good weekend for the sport. On Sunday, the NCAA brackets were revealed for the Men's Division I tournament, or as I like to call it, the real March Madness. Michigan secured the number one overall seed by beating Miami (OH) in the CCHA Tournament (in your face again Allbees) and have what looks to be an easy road to the Frozen Four. I don't want to speak too quickly though, because the unheralded teams like Niagara (who Michigan plays in the first round) always have something to prove in these big games. That said, I have Michigan getting to the Frozen Four and winning some close games against some great teams. The other number one seeds went to North Dakota, Miami (OH), and UNH and it's clear that UNH got the short straw. They should have no problem beating Notre Dame in the first round but the second round will be very tough. To try and beat the winner of Colorado College and defending-champion Michigan State is pretty ridiculous, especially if Colorado College wins because the regional is in Colorado Springs, making it pretty much a home game for CC. Anyway, my bracket is below (click it to see a larger version) and I am very hopeful that the champion turns out to be the correct choice.

In the "other" March Madness, the NCAA basketball tourney is in full swing and my bracket is still faring admirably. I went 20-12 in the first round and 10-6 in the second round. I know those records don't jump out at you, but I'm confident about my Final Four teams, all of which are still intact. Obviously, Western Kentucky was a big surprise and Davidson certainly wasn't expected to be in this position but for me, the biggest surprise was Pittsburgh's loss to Michigan State. After the way they played in the Big East tournament, I expected Pitt to get to the Elite Eight and challenge Texas to get to the Final Four. They had played such spirited basketball until that game but something must have happened because they played some lazy basketball and lost to a Michigan State team that they could have beaten. Anyway, here are my picks for the rest of the tournament:

East - I've picked all four Sweet Sixteen teams in this portion of the bracket correctly and I think North Carolina will continue it's dominating run, though it will be much closer against Washington State. The Louisville-Tennessee game should be incredible, but I see the Volunteers coming out on top there. A UNC-Tennessee Elite Eight game should be another thriller, but North Carolina is just too good to be stopped.
South - I originally picked Pittsburgh to beat Memphis, but instead Memphis will go down against Michigan State. They just aren't that good and live and die by the three-point shot. I think Texas will advance to play MSU in a very tight game with Stanford (though I wouldn't mind being wrong because Stanford's awesome). Then in the Elite Eight, I have Texas taking care of the Spartans to get to the Final Four.
Midwest - I was half-right in this section, picking Kansas and Wisconsin correctly though I expected Clemson to play better. That's the past though, and for the future, I see Kansas beating Villanova easily and Wisconsin sweeping away Davidson's dreams. In a surprise pick that I feel oddly good about, I have Wisconsin beating Kansas and going to San Antonio as a member of the Final Four.
West - This was my bad part of the bracket...as UCLA was the only team I picked correctly to get to the Sweet Sixteen. Fortunately, they are the only competent team left and have plenty of Final Four experience to get back there. I have them beating Western Kentucky and in a complete gut feeling with no reasoning involved, I have West Virginia beating Xavier. Then, UCLA will easily take down West Virginia (or Xavier, I have no idea) and reach the Final Four for the third straight year.

Final Four - UCLA will beat Texas and North Carolina will beat Wisconsin. UCLA will finally get the championship it so deserves and beat UNC in the final.

I like my picks but I can certainly accept that they could very easily go wrong, as that is always the story of March Madness (hence the name). Well, that's what's happening in sports for now but until next time, enjoy the Spring weather that should be coming around the corner...I hope.

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