In My Opinion

NCAA tournament: Michigan State will win it all

tsorensen@charlotteobserver.comMarch 16, 2014 

You know the drill. I pick every game minutes after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets are revealed. Some seasons I’m golden. I picked the national champion last season. It was the other games with which I struggled.

South

First-round winners are Florida, Pittsburgh, VCU, UCLA, Ohio State, Syracuse, New Mexico and Kansas.

I like the Panthers, but it’s not about me and the Gators beat them. UCLA beats VCU and Syracuse beats Ohio State. Everybody loves the Lobos. So they lose to Kansas.

Florida beats UCLA and Kansas beats Syracuse.

Florida beats Kansas to advance to the Final Four. One pick, one No. 1 seed; how daring?

East

First-round winners are Virginia, Memphis, Cincinnati, Michigan State, North Carolina, Iowa State, Connecticut and Villanova.

Virginia beats Memphis, Michigan State beats Cincinnati.

I love North Carolina guard Marcus Paige. Leanest guy on either team and often the toughest. Teammate James Michael McAdoo, meanwhile, can be the best big man on the court. He also can be: Among Other Big Men Receiving Votes. That won’t be good enough against Iowa State. The Cyclones advance, as does Villanova.

I respect the Cavaliers enormously but I’ll pick the Spartans in a game in which nothing comes easily. Iowa State upsets Villanova in double overtime.

Michigan State handles Iowa State and advances to the Final Four.

West

First-round winners are Arizona, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, San Diego State, Baylor, Creighton, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Arizona, San Diego State, Baylor and Wisconsin advance.

The Aztecs could be this season’s Wichita State. They have Final Four talent. But they won’t beat Arizona. Wisconsin, meanwhile, reminds me of Frankenstein. Alas, fire bad, and the Bears are, too. Baylor advances.

I want to pick Baylor. But Arizona is too good. The Wildcats move to the Final Four. I have two No. 1 seeds and a 4. I’m not proud.

Midwest

If the Miami Heat played college basketball, they’d be assigned to the Midwest. The region is overloaded. But if there’s a way to level this tournament, I don’t know what it is. The NCAA doesn’t, either.

Wichita State, Kentucky, N.C. State – which beats Xavier by 3 in Dayton – Louisville, Iowa, Duke, Texas and Michigan advance. Wofford, however, leads the Wolverines by 1 at the half. Wofford coach Mike Young has been overshaded in the Southern Conference by the sustained excellence of Davidson’s Bob McKillop. But Young is really good, and he’ll prove it (again) in Milwaukee.

Wichita’s State-Kentucky is compelling. I got to know Shockers’ coach Gregg Marshall when he was at Winthrop. His dream jobs once were Charlotte and South Carolina. I suspect that’s changed.

The Shockers remain undefeated by beating the Wildcats by 9, Louisville beats the Wolfpack by 4, Duke beats Iowa by 12 and Michigan beats Texas by 6.

Louisville outlasts the Shockers and Duke beats Michigan.

Everybody is picking Louisville. A four seed? Louisville is less a team than a cause. But all of Duke’s simmering potential comes together in Indianapolis and the Blue Devils upset Louisville and advance to the Final Four.

Final Four

Florida-Michigan State is a contest betwteen diffrent species. The Gators play an elegant game. They’re entertaining, well coached and so cool. I’m a fan. Michigan State beats them anyway.

With 6-foot-8 Brandon Ashley Arizona probably was the best team in the country. He’s out with a foot injury, but I still like the Wildcats. A 9-1 run midway through the second half pushes them past Duke.

In the final, the 4-seed prevails. The Spartans beat Arizona 68-63. They are your national champion.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen

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