1:09 AM EDT, March 19, 2013
Disregard Nate Silver
Nate Silver likes Louisville, Florida, Indiana and Gonzaga, and given his Obama-Romney projections, disagreeing is perilous. But let's anyway.
Ohio State has won eight straight, including a road conquest of Indiana and Big Ten tournament wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin. Miami won the ACC regular season outright, and the league tournament, and six of the last eight teams with that double have reached the Final Four. Kansas had an inexplicable loss at TCU but rebounded to capture the Big 12 tournament.
The most puzzling region is the stacked Midwest, where Louisville, Duke, Michigan State and Saint Louis are title material. Given their second-half demolition of Syracuse on Saturday, I'll take the Cardinals.
Don't sleep on VCU
Iliana Limón Romero
The best part about this year's NCAA tournament field is that so many teams could easily make deep runs.
Louisville, as the No. 1 overall seed, has arguably the most favorable portion of the bracket and is riding a 10-game winning streak. The Cardinals should reach the Final Four.
Gonzaga is another formidable team and should make its first Final Four appearance. While Indiana is strong, Jim Larranaga has something special brewing in South Florida. Look for the Hurricanes to reach Atlanta.
And VCU — yes, VCU — has the ability to set a frenetic pace and make another trip to the Final Four. Don't sleep on Shaka Smart's scrappy team that forces good teams to make bad plays.
Watch New Mexico
Los Angeles Times
The door to this NCAA field is wide open but let's close it with these four regional winners: Louisville (Midwest), Florida (South), Miami (East) and New Mexico (West).
Call this tribute to New Mexico week, as this is the 30th anniversary of North Carolina State winning the NCAA title in Albuquerque. A Louisville-New Mexico national semifinal should drive ratings through the roof if it's a very low ceiling.
Billy Donovan knows how to get Florida to Final Fours so I'm predicting he'll do it again and play Miami in the national semifinals in a great college football matchup. Miami probably deserved a No.1 seeding after winning the ACC regular season and tournament but the Hurricanes can certainly get to Atlanta by taking the No. 2 bus.
It's hot in Miami
Don't act surprised when your No. 1 seeds don't arrive in Atlanta.
This season, the door is open for almost anyone. Louisville, the overall No. 1 seed, is good enough to win it all with experience, balance and a defense that drives opponents mad. No. 2 Miami and No. 2 Georgetown have proven they are capable through the season.
Other than the Cardinals, the Hurricanes are the nation's hottest team as outright winners of the ACC regular-season title and tournament.
No. 3 New Mexico will catch some off guard. The Lobos won a tough Mountain West Conference and has a relatively nice path to the Final Four out of the West.
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