The wild, wild West. If the country’s foremost basketball experts are to be believed, this is where all the fun is going to happen. Top-seeded Gonzaga’s weak schedule has gamblers looking to spice up their brackets, salivating at the chance to throw all the chalk out the window.
Or, it WOULD, if the committee hadn’t been a total fun-sucker and put Ohio State in the region as well. The Buckeyes, a No. 2 seed, are soaring in most analysts’ estimations after outlasting the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.
As a result, most bettors are going to ink The Ohio State University in the region’s Final Four slot, much to the chagrin of New Mexico and Gonzaga fans. The pick is pretty much impervious to criticism — the Buckeyes are hot (eight-game win streak), experienced (Final Four last year) and battle-tested (the Big Ten was kind of good I guess). But will they win? Our predictions after the jump.
MOST VULNERABLE HIGH SEED: Gonzaga
Sorry to be a downer, but it’s completely true: The ’Zags are operating under a different set of expectations than every other No. 1 seed until they prove they can beat up on major-conference teams. Gonzaga will beat Southern in the opener, but watch out for tough potential matchups with Pittsburgh in the second round or the Fightin’ Buzzcuts of Wisconsin in the regional semifinal.
As far as first-round upsets go, I don’t see anything dramatic happening here. A lot of people will get sucked into the Slim Shady Marshall Henderson hype and pick Ole Miss to take out Wisconsin in the 5-12 game. It’s certainly possible, but while the brash guard can shoot his team into any game, he’s just as likely to chuck them out of it. A quick, undiscriminating trigger isn’t your friend against a Bo Ryan defense. I see sixth-seeded Arizona falling to 11th-seeded Belmont as the more likely first-round disappointment — the Wildcats are fading down the stretch, and the Bruins can fill it up quickly from beyond the arc.