*The West region does not have one team I want to put into my Final Four.
*I have a bet going with NDFuzzH8TaLose that this is the year a 16 knocks off a 1. My money is on Southern beating the Zags. Why? They have two guys - Derick Beltran and Malcolm Miller - capable of putting up monster games, and in a one-and-done situation, you just need one guy to get hot to pull off the shocker. I would much rather take the 22 points that Vegas is giving Southern, but if I need to pick one of the 16s, the Jaguars are it.
*I'm not buying Louisville as the big favorite every is making them out to be. They have one borderline first round prospect (Gorgui Dieng) and a few second rounders. As I have mentioned here before, you need at least one top pick in the NBA Draft if you want to win this tournament. Over the last 17 years, no team has won the title without a top guy:
1996 Kentucky Walker Mercer Delk McCarty Anderson
1997 Arizona Bibby Terry
1998 Kentucky Mohammed Magloire
1999 Connecticut Hamilton
2000 Michigan State Richardson Cleaves Peterson
2001 Duke Williams Dunleavy Boozer Battier Duhon
2002 Maryland Wilcox Blake Dixon
2003 Syracuse Anthony Warrick
2004 Connecticut Gordon Okafor Armstrong Villanueva Boone
2005 North Carolina Williams May Felton McCants
2006 Florida Noah Brewer Horford
2007 Florida Noah Brewer Horford Speights
2008 Kansas Aldrich Rush Arthur Chalmers
2009 North Carolina Hansbrough Lawson Ellington Davis
2010 Duke Smith Singler Plumlee
2011 UConn Walker Lamb
2012 Kentucky Davis Kidd-Gilchrist Jones Teague
Looking at the top prospects in this draft, we can assume one of these teams will win the 2013 title:
Kansas (Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey), Oklahoma State (Marcus Smart), Georgetown (Otton Porter), Indiana (Cody Zeller, Victo Oladipo), Michigan (Trey Burke), Syracuse (Michael Carter-Williams), UCLA (Shabazz Muhammad), Michigan State (Gary Harris), Gonzaga (Kelly Olynyk), or Duke (Mason Plumlee).
Not extremely helpful this year since many of these guys happen to be on highly rated teams, but it knocks out Louisville, Florida, St. Louis, New Mexico, Miami, Marquette, and Ohio State who are all top-4 seeds.
*St. Louis has way too much buzz about being a sleeper team. Don't be shocked to see them get knocked out in the round of 32.
*Surprise Sweet 16 Teams: Creighton, Pitt, and Bucknell
*Final Four: Indiana, Kansas (first two games are basically home games; don't have to travel far for regional either), Louisville (just because they won't win the whole thing doesn't mean I don't think they'll get close), and Ohio State (default selection)
Note: I hate that Obama has such a similar F4 to me, so I might mix things up a bit and make Kansas my winner in some brackets.