Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Louis or Bust

There are a ton of good articles in the papers today but unfortunatley, I am tight on time and won't be able to highlight them here. However, if you click on the newspaper links on the right hand side of Illinitalk you will be able to peruse them at your leisure.

Now the important stuff! This should be a good competition between Chief and I. Let me preface this by saying that I decided to take my own path on this and ignore some of the so-called "experts" and conventional wisdom. Also, I know some games have already been or are in process of being played--as such, I have not looked at any score results yet so as to be completely fair to Chief. Here we go--NCAA Tournament picks:

Sweet Sixteen
IL over BC
OK State over AZ
First round upset (going with Chief on this one): Nevada over Texas

Georgia Tech over Louisville
Wake Forest over Gonzaga
First round upset: Creighton over West Virginia (sorry Chief--I have Pacific)

North Carolina over Florida
UConn over Kansas
First round upset: NC State over Charlotte

Syracuse over Duke
Oklahoma over Kentucky
First round upset: Iowa over Cincinnati and, in a minor upset, Miss. State over Stanford

Elite Eight (here are the shockers)
Illinois over Oklahoma State

Georgia Tech over Wake Forest

UConn over North Carolina

Syracuse over Oklahoma

Final Four
Illinois over Georgia Tech
Syracuse over UConn

National Championship
The Fighting Illini of Illinois destroy the vaunted Syracuse zone defense to win the title

I know some people are going to read this and think I am crazy for only having one #1 seed in the final four and no team from North Carolina (NC, Duke, or Wake). In the interest of full disclosure, I spent last night filling out three different brackets trying to decide what I wanted my picks to be. In some of those, my final four picks included either Duke, Wake, UNC, or even Louisville. Those are certainly some of the best teams in the country. However, you can find those picks by any expert. I wanted to offer something that was different but highly possible.

The Big East was an outstanding conference this year and both Syracuse and UConn have players with final four and national title experience. Thus, those were my picks. As for Georgia Tech, that one is a long shot and I am going out on a limb. However, once again, they have players with final four and championship game experience. They had a year that was below expectations based on the players they had back from last year but part of that was because of injuries. They have played well as of late and I decided to take a chance on them since I don't think anyone else has. They are the one ACC team no one is picking for the final four.

With regards to the other three ACC teams (UNC, Duke, and Wake), I am just not sold on them. Illinois destroyed Wake and I just haven't been that impressed with them. Plus, they just never seem to fulfill their potential.

Duke is good thanks to Coach K's system but they lack depth and, despite winning the ACC tournament, seem to have given away some leads this year which is very un-Duke like. One bad night from Reddick and they are done.

As for North Carolina, we have heard all year that they are the most talented team in the country. And if we are honest about it, they probably are. There are several NBA lottery picks on that team. The problem is I have seem them play as individuals far too many times this year, even in the games they have won big. I am also not sure they can stand up under the pressure. They are in a brutal bracket with lots of potential for a misstep (is that a word?). I have nothing against Coach Williams but I am just not sure he can lead this team to the Final Four and/or a National Title. I am in the minority on this big time but call it a gut feeling (of course I didn't think UConn would win it all last year so take it for what it's worth). It is certainly a very real possibility that at least one if not all three of these teams could end up in the final four and either Duke or UNC could end up playing Illinois for the title. I just chose not to pick any of them. That is what makes this time of year so fun.

Finally, my favorite team and yours: Illinois
I love this team. I have all year. They have come through in every game that truly mattered. I have no reason to believe that won't continue to happen. I have never been able to pick my favorite team to win it all and truly believe that it was a very, very real possibility. That is what has made this year so special. While I debated on my final four teams, there was no question that Illinois would be my only pick to win the national title. Whether my predictions are right and they play Syracuse or we get the matchup with UNC or Duke that everyone seems to want, I don't care. I just want our guys to be cutting down the nets on April 4th. I believe.

Go Illini.

<< Home |

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?