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March Madness: Staff Picks

March Madness!

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The 2011 NCAA Tournament has finally begun. The next four days are going to have endless basketball games, with upsets, buzzer beaters, and Gus Johnson. It is an endless array of magic, like Christmas but longer (unless you happen to be one of those strange Twelve Days people).

For some people who I have never met, it is all about the basketball. For everyone else, it is at least partly -- if not entirely -- about how a bracket full of essentially random guesses fairs in single elimination. People like brackets!

We here at the Dallas-Ft. Worth regional site of SB Nation are no different, and so we submit our humble picks for your laughing pleasure. Starting with regional champion picks (and some commentary), and then the full brackets below.

Be kind.

EAST REGION

Home of the No. 1 overall Ohio State, the East is a place of legendary basketball programs like Syracuse, Kentucky and North Carolina, and also looks -- on paper -- to have perhaps the least parity of any region. There's still some disagreement about who will be advancing from our group, though.

Code


Unc_medium

Fittz

Osu_medium

Griffin

Osu_medium

I don't think Ohio State is clearly the best in the country, but they are clearly the best in their region, and that's enough for me. I really hope I get to see them take on the Syracuse zone, though.

London

Osu_medium

Perryman

Osu_medium

Ponting

Kentucky_logo_medium

Starkey

Syracuse_medium

I'm not a believer in OSU. North Carolina is kind of weak, so I think 'Cuse can handle them pretty easily. I think OSU will be upset by WVU along the way, paving the way for Syracuse.

 

SOUTHWEST

The bracket of defense! If you want high scoring games, you'll probably need to look elsewhere. The Southwest is also a bracket with a one seed that's seen some high-profile failures in its tournament history, and there are some slick coaches looking to do it again.

Code

Kansas_medium

Fittz

Kansas_medium

Griffin

Louisville_logo_medium

Kansas is the best team in the region, but being the better team hasn't always helped them in the past. Picking Kansas to actually make it deep just feels wrong after so many early failures. Louisville's discipline and stifling defense is not a style quite so prone to melt downs, so I feel this is a case where picking the four to advance is actually the safe choice.

London

Purdue_logo_medium

Perryman

Notre-dame-logo_medium

Ponting

Kansas_medium

Starkey

Kansas_medium

I've got Kansas over Purdue in the Elite 8 here, not a really big believer in Notre Dame - if the 3s go cold, then they'll lose quickly, and I think Florida State will beat them. Purdue might give Kansas a pretty good game, but I do think the Jayhawks are the best team in their region.

 

SOUTHEAST

On paper, the Southeast looks like one big mess of parity. The 13 seed ranks 17th in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy. The two seed is perhaps the most controversial seeding of the whole tournament, and Pittsburgh is perhaps the weakest one seed. This is where the big upsets seem most likely to come. Which means it will probably all be chalk.

Code

Florida_logo_medium

Fittz

Pitt_logo_medium

Griffin

Utah_state_medium

Okay, what fun is this if you don't take some sort of risk? If I'm honest with myself, Utah State isn't particularly likely to make the Final Four, but oh well. If they do, I can sit around and talk about how I called it. Considering how Florida isn't a deserving two seed, and the rough path Pitt has for a one seed (Belmont or Kansas State is the WORST team they can face in the Sweet 16!), I'm not sure there is an overwhelming favorite in this region, so why not Ken Pomeroy's 18th best team in the nation?

London

Pitt_logo_medium

Perryman

Pitt_logo_medium

Ponting

Pitt_logo_medium

Starkey

Pitt_logo_medium

I wanted to pick St. John's, but I couldn't. Pittsburgh's got probably the easiest bracket here, I mean really? Florida as a two? Come on. Now Florida will go to the Final Four or something after I said that, but whatever. I'll take Pittsburgh as the third Big East team to head to the Final Four.

 

WEST

If Texas is going to do something, they'll have to make it through storied schools in Arizona and defending champion Duke just for the right to face the swarming defense of San Diego State, unless they get some help. Meanwhile, most of us don't think any of those teams will be winning the region.

Code

Duke_medium

Fittz

Uconn_logo_medium

Griffin

Duke_medium

Having to play a squad as good as Texas in the second round scares me a lot, and I don't mean to undersell the Aztecs, but Duke is probably farther in front of their region at large than any other school.

London

Duke_medium

Perryman

Uconn_logo_medium

Ponting

Uconn_logo_medium

Starkey

Uconn_logo_medium

Maybe I'm a homer - ok, I am - but this year is so wide open that I'm just going to pick my favorite team to win it, which is obviously UConn. Anyway, they'll go as far as Kemba Walker can take them, which I think is pretty far. I don't really think a ton of the West region bracket (sorry, Texas) and I think Duke is a soft No. 1. I'll take UConn.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP

So, who's winning the whole thing?

Code

Duke_medium

Fittz

Kansas_medium

Griffin

Duke_medium

They're they defending champs. They started the year looking like the best team, and injury and tough schedule  is the only reason they're not still considered the best right now. I still think they are the best, and they'll be adding Kyrie Irving to that squad for the tournament, and he'll be good to go by the time the big games start. It's a long tournament that I don't have any confidence in at all, but I have no reason to pick anyone other than Duke.

London

Duke_medium

Perryman

Pitt_logo_medium

Ponting

Uconn_logo_medium

Starkey

Uconn_logo_medium

Kemba Walker. No, seriously, why not? Like I said, it'll be much more fun to root for this to happen, and this year is pretty wide open. Jim Calhoun is in love with this team, so they might have something special going on here.

 

The Brackets

Click for full versions.

Code

Code_medium

Fittz

Fittz_medium

Griffin

Griffin_medium

London

Sprite_medium

Perryman

Perryman_medium

Ponting

Ponting_medium

Starkey

Jp_medium

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.