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2011 NCAAB Tournament: Free Bracket Predictions

Tournamant Bracket Predictions – 2011 March Madness Projections

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College hoops’ betting is heating up as we head towards the Big Dance on April 4. Check out my 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions below to help you get ready for the Madness!

East Region:

No. 1 Ohio State got no clemency from the tournament selection committee as the East has been loaded with the likes of Kentucky, Syracuse, and North Carolina. The No. 3 Orange could pose the biggest threat to the Buckeyes hoops dreams, as the Wildcats, although loaded with talent, are still a young and inexperienced squad.

The Heels are also laden with young talent as well, but a lack of real depth will be their demise. If the Orange can shut done Ohio’s Jared Sullinger, they may have a shot. However, the Bucks can still hit them from the perimeter, as they are the third-best three-point shooting team in the nation at 41.3 percent.

The Buckeyes should advance to the Final Four.

West Region:

The West is always a wild one and this year’s seeds seem to be stacking up to lay claim to one of the tournament’s toughest sections.

Defending champions Duke will have a long road to the Finals as they will likely have to face No. 4 Texas and then either No. 2 San Diego State or No. 3 UConn. Not to mention the likes of Temple and Arizona, both possessing the potential to make a deep run.

The Blue Devils will rely on the senior leadership of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, who will be without the services of last year’s second-team All-American Jon Scheyer who led the team in points per game, assists, free throw percentage, and steals.

Led by Jordan Hamilton, the Longhorns could be the team to stop the Devils triumphant return to the Finals, beating them in a Final Four barnburner.

Southwest Region:

The No. 1 seeded Jayhawks are in good company in the Southwest with Notre Dame, Purdue, and Louisville rounding out the top four seeds. Throw in potential spoilers, Richmond, and you’ve got a dogfight for making it out of Round 3.

The Irish are experienced and have one of the NCAA’s best three-point shooting percentages. However, winning the battles in the paint may be difficult. Purdue looked terrible finishing out their season with two straight losses, but have a tendency to turn it on in March as they did last season before falling to eventual winners Duke in the Sweet 16. Richmond is the wildcard and should they bust out of the gate with a win over Vanderbilt, the momentum could propel then past a Louisville team that has been stunned by inferior teams.

With JaJuan Johnson and E’Twon Moore, I like the Boilermakers chances at making a charge at the Jayhawks who should avenge their shocking defeat to Northern Iowa in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Southeast Region:

Some may think the Southwest Region is No.1 Pitt’ s to win, but after an  early exit from the Big East Conference tournament, I am not so impressed. Besides, they have could company with No. 3 BYU who boasts the nation’s leading scorer Jimmer Fredette.

You can’t count out Michigan State either. Although ranked No. 10 and not being as impressive as year’s past, Tom Izzo’s Spartans finished the season by winning two games in the Big Ten Tournament over Iowa and an upset over Purdue. The trio of Lucas, Green, and Summers is hard to bet against. Kansas State and Wisconsin are good teams, but neither has been great away from home.

The Panthers biggest threat comes by way of the Sunshine State, as No. 2 Florida won the SEC regular season crown after playing the fifth toughest schedule in the nation and had a nine RPI while they were 13-4 in out of conference games and 4-2 in neutral site games.

However, they still lack the physical size to take the Panthers who are led by arguably the best backcourt in the country, in Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker.

Pitt is definitely a good choice to make it to the New Orleans.

Championship Game:

Ohio State v. Kansas – The Buckeyes will edge out Texas and the Jayhawks will find a way to sneak by the Panthers as the two meet up in the Finals on April 4. Kansas will have its hands full with Sullinger down low, while Jon Diebler, who entered his senior season as one of the most prolific scorers from behind the 3-point arc, tears it up from the perimeter.

While I think the Jayhawks will keep this one close, Ohio State’s size, toughness and solid defense will have the Buckeyes cutting down the nets in Houston.

Matt Martz is a sportswriter for the Bakersfield Californian, the Oregonian, Springfield Republican, Sacramento Bee, and the San Diego Union Tribune. I leave handicapping to the pros. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.

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