March 14, 2002
by Chris Feeney
Our publication date makes this more a point of amusement than a tool to help you chose who to pick (or for most who not to pick) but I can't resist passing on my NCAA Tournament picks for this year.
The first round games are scheduled for March 14 and 15 so it will be too late for many readers to use my picks as they fill out their own brackets for the office pool. However one still can likely take some comfort in their own trials and tribulations of the bracket as the Final Four approaches by looking at mine and getting a few laughs.
I did not go real crazy with upsets like I have been prone to do in the past. For ease of reading I think it best to break this down by divisions. I'll start with the south bracket. First round winners will be Duke, Charlotte (a mild upset over the Irish), Alabama, Oklahoma State and Pittsburgh. I did pick Pennsylvania, N.C. Wilmington and Utah to pull off upsets in the opening round. From that bunch I picked Duke, Utah, Pittsburgh and Alabama to advance with Duke knocking off Alabama in the Great Eight.
The west bracket is one of two spots where I don't see the top seed advancing to the Final Four. I don't care for Cincinnati. They'll win game one but won't go any further. Also winning in the opening round will be Ole Miss, Mizzou, Ohio State, Arizona and Oklahoma. I picked the Tigers to upset Miami. I also look for Hawaii and Wyoming as underdogs. Everyone cried about Gonzaga getting underrated but Wyoming will quiet that. Out of this group I picked Ole Miss, my alma mater MU, Arizona and Oklahoma to advance to the Sweet 16. While I was at it I sent MU to the Great Eight where I picked them to lose to my second Final Four team, Arizona.
Closer to home in the Midwest is my second non-#1 seed finish. This bracket by far has the most upsets in my eyes. Only Kansas, Florida, Mississippi St., and Oregon will win as higher seeds. Upset wins will go to Western Kentucky, San Diego St., Boston College and Pepperdine. The Sweet 16 births go to Kansas, Florida, Mississippi St. and Oregon. The Gators will beat the hated Jay Hawks while Mississippi State will get by Oregon before Florida wins its way into the Final Four.
I went with the #1 seed in the west where Maryland will go to the finals. Valparaiso and Southern Illinois were my lone upsets. Wisconsin, Marquette, Georgia, North Carolina St. and U-Conn will move on. Maryland, Marquette, Georgia and N.C. State make the Sweet 16. Maryland and Georgia will move on with the Terps going to the big game.
So my Final Four is Duke against Arizona and Maryland taking on Florida. I predict an all ACC final pitting Maryland against the Blue Devils with Duke taking home the trophy. Like I said, here they are for you to laugh at, or if you get them in time, to avoid making similar picks. Of course one of these years I'm going to win that office pool.