Kansas the (Un)Clear Pick to Cut Down the Nets in Indy

Kansas the (Un)Clear Pick to Cut Down the Nets in Indy We've already discussed the plethora of approaches you can take when it comes to filling out your NCAA Tournament brackets. So now, without further ado, it's time to break down and predict the entire men's NCAA Tournament.

It's so simple if you break it down unscientifically.


First Round
Kansas (1) vs. Lehigh (16)
No No. 1 team has ever lost in the opening round of the men's bracket since the field moved to 64 teams. Until a top seed loses, this pick is a no-brainer.

UNLV (8) vs. Northern Iowa (9)
I haven't seen either of these teams play this year. But according to "The Sporting Blog," UNI's sports teams used to be called the "Pedagogues" back when the school was known as the Iowa State Teachers College. How can you pick against the Pedagogues?

Michigan State (5) vs. New Mexico State (12)
Tom Izzo has led the Sparties to five Final Fours and a national title in 2000. That has to count for something.

Maryland (4) vs. Houston (13)
Despite featuring the nation's leading scorer in Aubrey Coleman, Houston (19-15) wouldn't have been close to sniffing the Big Dance had it not won the Conference USA tournament. Getting hot at the right time is huge when making NCAA Tournament picks, but ACC regular-season co-champ Maryland is bigger and better. And Larry David went there.

Tennessee (6) vs. San Diego State (11)
I love Sharon, Mass., native Bruce Pearl and his ridiculously bright orange clothing, but I'm going with coach Steve Fisher and the San Diego State … um … Padres? Hoyas? No, no, I know: the Aztecs! In my book, anyone who goes 6-0 and wins a national championship to start his head-coaching career has mad postseason cred.

Georgetown (3) vs. Ohio (14)
The Hoyas often play in Providence (where this pod is being held) during the Big East regular season, so this is almost a home game for them. And they're the far superior team, so they've got that going for them … which is nice.

Oklahoma State (7) vs. Georgia Tech (10)
I really liked Oklahoma State athletics benefactor T. Boone Pickens' plan to end American reliance on foreign oil: building an enormous wind farm in his home state of Texas. Go with the Cowboys.

Ohio State (2) vs. UC Santa Barbara (15)
The Buckeyes are favored at Caesar's Palace in Vegas by 17.5 points. They're tough nuts to crack.

Second Round
Kansas (1) vs. Northern Iowa (9)
Famous alums: Scott Bakula vs. Kurt Warner. Sorry, Mr. Warner, but Mr. Bakula played a more convincing successful aging quarterback in the classic college football film Necessary Roughness — featuring SI swimsuit model Kathy Ireland — than you did this past year in Arizona.

Michigan State (5) vs. Maryland (4)
Those yellow Maryland uniforms make me feel like I'm gonna terp all over myself. The Sparties sail on.

San Diego State (11) vs. Georgetown (3)
Georgetown weaned itself on uber-tough Big East competition this season. The Hoyas will prevail against the less-tested Aztecs.

Oklahoma State (7) vs. Ohio State (2)
Evan Turner crushed Michigan's dim hopes of a postseason berth with a game-winning, near-half-court heave in the Big 10 tournament. He won't let the Buckeyes lose here.

Sweet 16
Kansas (1) vs. Michigan State (5)
Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas is good. Kansas guard Sherron Collins is better.

Georgetown (3) vs. Ohio State (2)
One of my favorite aunts went to Ohio State. Sold.

Elite Eight
Kansas (1) vs. Ohio State (2)
Ohio State hasn't won a national title since before JFK was in the White House. Kansas has. Sorry, Aunt Bonnie.


First Round
Syracuse (1) vs. Vermont (16)
Yes, the Orange got shafted by getting sent out West. But they still get to play their first pod of games in Buffalo which, despite being in Western New York, isn't exactly like getting shipped out to Honolulu. Vermont's Marqus Blakely is a really good player, but don't expect a repeat of UVM's tourney upset of Cuse back in 2005, even if Arinze Onuaku doesn't play.

Gonzaga (8) vs. Florida State (9)
The Zags are probably a better team than the Seminoles, but Gonzaga has to travel across the entire country to play in Buffalo. Everyone knows that teams having to fly through three time zones often suffer letdowns due to jet lag, the different food, the different accents, etc. The Noles have at least had buffalo wings before. They're the first-round pick.

Butler (5) vs. UTEP (12)
Yes, Butler is really good and has won like 742 games in a row coming into the tournament. But despite being a 5-12 matchup, Vegas sees has this as just a 2.5-point game. This seems like sensible upset-picking territory for the Miners and star Derrick Caracter. But no, Butler is too hot. I'm not falling for your trickery, Upset Demon Sitting On My Shoulder!

Vanderbilt (4) vs. Murray State (13)
I can't stand Vanderbilt's elevated home court. Go with the Racers, especially after the mother of Murray State reserve Picasso Simmons was tragically killed in a car accident on Monday. Winning in the first round will be the early feel-good, inspirational story of the tourney.

Xavier (6) vs. Minnesota (11)
Minnesota made a nice run in the Big 10 tournament, but Xavier will outrun and outgun the Gophers. Plus, their school starts with an X.

Pittsburgh (3) vs. Oakland (14)
Oakland is a team that lost to Kansas by 30, Syracuse by 32, Michigan State by 31, Memphis by 31 and IUPUI by 24. They won't do much better against the Panthers.

Brigham Young (7) vs. Florida (10)
BYU has a guard named Jimmer Fredette who scored 75 points in two Mountain West Conference tourney games. Tim Tebow can't throw.

Kansas State (2) vs. North Texas (15)
K State has a player — their leading scorer, in fact — who has a beard like Abraham Lincoln's. Done.

Second Round
Syracuse (1) vs. Florida State (9)
Orange leading scorer and rebounder Wes Johnson wants to make a serious run before he goes pro. Neither he nor they will stop here. The Cuse's zone defense will wreak havoc against the Noles.

Butler (5) vs. Murray State (13)
The Racers run out of gas against one of the nation's hottest teams. (The) Butler did it … again. (Hey, that could make for a good headline!)

Xavier (6) vs. Pittsburgh (3)
Jordan Crawford is an exciting player to watch, but Pitt's defense shuts him down in this one. A Musketeer is menacing as a mascot. But an ill-tempered Panther would pounce before the Musketeer would be able to load his, you know, musket.

Brigham Young (7) vs. Kansas State (2)
It'd make a great local story if BYU were to reach the Western regional in Salt Lake City, but I'm half petrified, half very fond of Kansas State head coach Frank Martin. Maybe it's his hairdo. Slickness personified.

Sweet 16
Syracuse (1) vs. Butler (5)
No disrespect to Butler coach Brad Stevens, but Syracuse's Jim Boeheim has been here before. He'll have the Orange ready.

Pittsburgh (3) vs. Kansas State (2)
Have I mentioned Frank Martin's hair? That is money!

Elite Eight
Syracuse (1) vs. Kansas State (2)
Fans look pretty silly in orange. But purple? Really, Wildcats fans? No, thank you.


First Round
Kentucky (1) vs. East Tennessee State (16)
Common sense: 1 over 16.

Texas (8) vs. Wake Forest (9)
Texas was No. 1 in the country earlier this season before falling by the proverbial wayside. The Horns won't go all the way, but they're good for a tourney win.

Temple (5) vs. Cornell (12)
Everyone's calling this the obvious 5-12 upset. Especially Jay Bilas, who has the Big Red going to the Elite Eight. Sorry, Jay. How about a Big Red stop sign?

Wisconsin (4) vs. Wofford (13)
Which team was that in the play-in game: Winthrop or Wofford? It doesn't matter. They're both going to lose.

Marquette (6) vs. Washington (11)
Washington has a distinct home-court advantage playing in San Jose, Calif. But Marquette's uniforms are sweet. Fly with the Golden Eagles.

New Mexico (3) vs. Montana (14)
C'mon, Montana. If you're coming to the NCAA-flipping-Tournament from the Big Sky conference, you should have fewer than nine losses.

Clemson (7) vs. Missouri (10)
My wife went to grad school at Mizzou. Go Tigers! (Or else I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.)

West Virginia (2) vs. Morgan State (15)
Morgan State lost to South Carolina State, Loyola (Md.) and Appalachian State this year. Sorry, Golden Bears.

Second Round
Kentucky (1) vs. Texas (8)
Super freshman John Wall will carry the Wildcats on to the Sweet 16 — and beyond — a la Carmelo Anthony in 2003.

Temple (5) vs. Wisconsin (4)
Bo Ryan's Badgers are fundamentally sound. And Temple could lose in the first round to Cornell, making Wisconsin the safer pick to move on.

Marquette (6) vs. New Mexico (3)
New Mexico coach Steve Alford won a national title playing for Indiana back in 1987. He probably won't win one with the Lobos in 2009, but they will reach the Sweet 16.

Missouri (10) vs. West Virginia (2)
You have to love Mizzou guard Zaire "Big Shot" Taylor, but Mountaineers are trained to kill Tigers, or at least mountain lions, right? Whether they are or not, Bob Huggins certainly could kill either of them, so WVU's the pick.

Sweet 16
Kentucky (1) vs. Wisconsin (4)
UK freshman big DeMarcus Cousins is a bit of a head case, but he's also ridiculously talented. He and fellow frosh Wall get it done.

New Mexico (3) vs. West Virginia (2)
Da'Sean Butler is filthy good. And the regional is being held in the spacious Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., a place the Mountaineers have played before.

Elite Eight
Kentucky (1) vs. West Virginia (2)
It's hard to rationalize rooting for UK coach John Calipari. It's equally hard to rationalize rooting for WVU coach Bob Huggins. So we'll opt for which school has been around longer. The University of Kentucky was founded in 1865. West Virginia University (or the Agricultural College of West Virginia, as it was known then) in 1867. Go with big blue.


First Round
Duke (1) vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff (16)
I'm totally digging the Arkansas Pine Bluff logo, the Golden Lions insignia. But Coach K won't let this game get within 20.

California (8) vs. Louisville (9)
Dick Vitale and all the experts are talking about how Louisville could give the Dukies a game in the second round. I guess that means Rick Pitino and the Cardinals will beat Cal to get there.

Texas A&M (5) vs. Utah State (12)
Here's a sensible 5-12 upset. The Utah State Aggies are only 2.5- to 3.5-point dogs against the Texas A&M Aggies, so it's time to take the plunge. Book it for the Aggies. The Utah State ones.

Purdue (4) vs. Siena (13)
Purdue was flying high until the Feb. 24 injury of Robbie Hummel. And they're a popular pick to get upset. Although the Boilers are no longer a Final Four-caliber team, they're still a Big 10 team playing against an opponent from an inferior conference.

Notre Dame (6) vs. Old Dominion (11)
The Fighting Irish playing the 12:25 game the day after St. Patrick's Day? In New Orleans? "Erin go bragh" you say? More like, "Erin go home."

Baylor (3) vs. Sam Houston State (14)
Sam Houston State spells its nickname, Bearkats, with a "k." Lame.

Richmond (7) vs. St. Mary's (10)
St. Mary's is the Gaels. Richmond is the Spiders. Which are you more afraid of?

Villanova (2) vs. Robert Morris (15)
Who is Robert Morris and why is there a university named after him?

Second Round
Duke (1) vs. Louisville (9)
I know Louisville beat Syracuse twice in Big East play this year, but I don't see them getting another upset here. Senior Jon Scheyer and juniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are all experienced winners and won't let the Devils go down in the second round.

Utah State (12) vs. Purdue (4)
Purdue guts its way through a tough first-round tilt without its second-leading scorer, but the Boilers can't do it again. The Aggies have a starter named Pooh Williams and subs named Jaxon Myaer and Modou Niang. No, this isn't a spelling bee, but Utah State's still moving on.

Old Dominion (11) vs. Baylor (3)
Women's hoops stars Ann Donovan, Nancy Lieberman and Ticha Penicheiro all went to Old Dominion. They won't help them in this game.

Richmond (7) vs. Villanova (2)
Villanova's high-powered offense — led by dynamic backcourt mates Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher — outlasts Richmond's tough defense.

Sweet 16
Duke (1) vs. Utah State (12)
Nicer weather: Durham, N.C., or Logan, Utah? Thursday's forecast for Durham: sunny with a high of 70. Thursday's forecast for Logan: scattered thunderstorms with a high of 50. Edge: Duke.

Baylor (3) vs. Villanova (2)
Villanova has the pedigree and the superior backcourt play. But let's go with coach Scott Drew and the Bears, who are playing the regional in Houston, just 186.74 miles from their home in Waco, and whose impressive run — not to mention their inspiring return from NCAA violations and the murder of one player by a teammate seven years ago — continues with a narrow victory.

Elite Eight
Duke (1) vs. Baylor (3)
Only once has all four top-seeded teams reached the Final Four, way back in 2008. It won't happen again. Also, Richard Nixon went to Duke. This current Baylor coach is not a crook and leads his team to Indianapolis.

Final Four
Kansas (1) vs. Syracuse (1)
My heart says to go with the Orange. My gut — along with KU big man Cole Aldrich — says to go with the deeper Jayhawks.

Kentucky (1) vs. Baylor (3)
If Baylor makes its first Final Four since 1950, when there were like … six teams in the field, they'll be happy just to have made it to Indy. Kentucky's too explosive.

Kansas (1) vs. Kentucky (1)
OK, as I said in my previous story, I'm picking whichever school name rhymes with "Mansas." Whoops, sorry, Kentucky.

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