I know that’s a cop out and I know that’s the way to ingratiate myself with Big Blue Nation and I know that makes me kind of boring and cliche and whatever. Kentucky is the best team in the country. No one can match their talent level. I’ve been saying it since January, and there is no reason for me to change my mind at this point.
So Kentucky it is.
How do they get there?
Well, they’re not losing to Western Kentucky, that’s for sure. I think Kentucky’s draw might be actually a bit more difficult than I originally believed. Whoever they end up facing in the round of 32 — be it UConn or the Iowa State Fighting Royce Whites — is going to be a tough matchup, but the ‘Cats aren’t losing in Louisville. In my bracket, I have Wichita State getting to the Sweet 16, and they could end up giving Kentucky some trouble there as they have size, experience and a talented perimeter attack, but the key to beating Kentucky is being able to attack Anthony Davis offensively, and I don’t see Garrett Stutz doing that.
Regardless of who makes it that far, I don’t see issues for the Wildcats in the Elite 8. Duke can’t beat them. I don’t think Baylor can either. UNLV? Notre Dame? Xavier?
Welcome to New Orleans.
And the way I see it, UK will be the only No. 1 seed that makes it that far.
Obviously, without Fab Melo in the lineup, Syracuse is more vulnerable. This is not a secret. I still think that with their guard play and the inevitable switch by Jim Boeheim to a more uptempo style and a more pressuring defense, that the Orange will be able to make some noise this month. You’ll need play-making guards and a quality big to beat them even without Melo, and I don’t think K-State has enough back court firepower and I’m afraid Brad Tinsley will be eaten alive by Dion Waiters.
So that opens up the East Region for Ohio State, who I think will end up playing Kansas in the Final Four. I think the Jayhawks just matchup up with North Carolina too well. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey can nullify any advantage UNC’s big men have and Tyshawn Taylor will be going up against one of the worst defensive back courts in the country.
I took Kansas over Ohio State to make the title game, where I see them playing Kentucky, who will beat Missouri in the other semifinal. Why do I have Missouri in the Final Four? Well, as risky as it is to bet against Tom Izzo in a tournament situation, I think the injury to Branden Dawson is going to hurt them more than people think, especially if/when they go up against physical teams like Memphis and New Mexico. I have the Lobos in the Elite 8, getting beaten by Missouri.
So Kentucky and Kansas.
Wouldn’t that be fun?
Kentucky already owns a win over the Jayhawks this season, having playing in the Champion’s Classic in NYC. More interesting, however, is that the last time a John Calipari team played Kansas in the title game, this happened.
You ready for the ride? It may get a bit bumpy, so I hope you buckled up.
(Click here to a larger version of Rob’s bracket)