NCAA Tournament 2011 Predictions: Don't Hate Me, But I've Got Duke Repeating

Time to pick the games ...

Oh, I'm sorry, the title should have issued a spoiler alert. Pretend you didn't read that.

Anyway, it's that maddening time of the year again when 60-some teams put on their proverbial dancing shoes and compete for the NCAA Division 1 basketball championship. Ah, yes. The Field of 62 64 68.  March Madness. The time of year you skip two weeks worth of Thursday and Friday classes. Announcers talking about young men wearing glass slippers. And, perhaps the most fun part, it's filling out your bracket time. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I've filled out at least one bracket for March Madness. It's a tradition that goes way back to the pre-world-wide-web era when one of my brothers or I would have to rip out an empty bracket from Sports Illustrated and fill in the match ups and coinciding seeds on Selection Sunday. That bracket would then get pinned up on the wall in either the kitchen or our basement and serve as the family's official bracket. The next day consisted of my Dad, brothers, and I fighting over the best brackets our newspaper subscriptions had to offer. We subscribed to three newspapers, so Dad would have to bring home from work a fourth or fifth just in case somebody accidentally picked a No. 16 seed to win. One bracket per person, one fan's guide to the tournament, and minimal conflicts of interest.

Nowadays, technology makes it easy as Zach Novak knowing 62 letters of Pi to enter into several different bracket challenges; print and fill out countless brackets with, oh, say 315 clicks of the mouse; and then be completely lost as to who you're rooting for when tuning in. Man, it's truly March Madness ... man (I watched Austin Powers recently, can you tell?). I know a little self-control would mean you don't have to worry about so many brackets, but it's hard when it's so, so simple to convince yourself into throwing on some STP and rocking out umpteen brackets.

Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you this because I'm guilty of overindulging and, thus, being really confused during games -- yes, my team from bracket Amazing, bracket Badass, and bracket Dominant is winning; oh, wait, noooo, they're playing my pick from bracket Cool, bracket Excellent, and bracket FuckYeah; should I eat this pizza now or after this delicious cold-cut combo? 

I've admitted my problems, now it's time to start correcting. I have decided that I will be more abstemious in my ways this year. While I did fill out two different brackets for a money pool (I can't quit it!), I'm going to post one of them here, so it will hold me somewhat accountable. By posting them publicly, and naturally not wanting to embarrass myself too terribly, it'll make it easier for me to favor my picks in this bracket over the others while I'm watching the games. If I'm wrong more than right, then I guess I'm the biggest idiot on the planet. If I'm right more than I'm wrong, then I'm the next Jay Bilas.

So, without further fluff, my predictions for the 2011 NCAA Tournaments (maybe with a line or two after certain picks): 

"Second Round" 
East Region 

No. 1 Ohio State over No. 16 UTSA  
No. 8 George Mason over No. 9 Villanova (did you see the fight outside? Two girls fighting over a guy named George)
No. 12 Clemson over No. 5 West Virginia (first game/first upset & the game the NCAA will probably use to argue the First Four games are useful)
No. 4 Kentucky over No. 13 Princeton
No. 6 Xavier over No. 11 Marquette (I kind of wish I could change this pick now)
No. 3 Syracuse over No. 14 Indiana State
No. 7 Washington over No. 10 Georgia (Georgia makes bracket projectors happy and don't show up)
No. 2 UNC over No. 15 LIU-Brook (Will somehow be the closest of the 2/15 games)

West Region

No. 1 Duke over No. 16 Hampton 
No. 8 Michigan over No. 9 Tennessee (homer pick)
No. 5 Arizona over No. 12 Memphis 

No. 13 Oakland over No. 4 Texas (homer pick II, but Keith Benson attended my alma mater and he's legit)
No. 6 Cincy over No. 11 Missouri
No. 3 UConn over No. 14 Bucknell
No. 7 Temple over No. 10 Penn State (Penn State doesn't belong, so watch them win...MARCH MADNESS)
No. 2 SDSU over No. 15 N. Colorado 

Southwest Region

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Boston U
No. 8 UNLV over No. 9 Illinois 
No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt
No. 4 Louisville over No. 13 Morehead State
No. 6 Georgetown over No. 11 VCU (Wright is back)
No. 3 Purdue over No. 14 St. Peter's (Purdue needs to get that terrible taste out of their mouths from BTT)
No. 10 Florida State over No. 7 Texas A&M 

No. 2 Notre Dame over No. 15 Akron 

Southeast Region

No. 1 Pitt over No. 16 UNC-Asheville
No. 8 Butler over No. 9 ODU
No. 5 Kansas State over No. 12 Utah St. 
No. 13 Belmont over No. 4 Wisconsin 
No. 11 Gonzaga over No. 6 St. John's (Stockton!)
No. 3 BYU over No. 14 Wofford (I wanted to show my bias toward the SoCon here, but Jimmer will win 1-2 games himself)
No. 10 Michigan State over No. 7 UCLA (homer pick III, but probably the smartest/safest one)
No. 2 Florida over No. 15 UCSB 

"Third Round" 
East Region 

No. 1 Ohio State over No. 8 George Mason 
No. 4 Kentucky over No. 12 Clemson 
No. 3 Syracuse over No. 6 Xavier
No. 7 Washington over No. 2 UNC (yup.) 

West Region

No. 1 Duke over No. 8 Michigan (homer pick's are dying. this match up gets tons of pub because of Fab Five doc and I'll be in attendance)
No. 13 Oakland over No. 5 Arizona (homer pick IV, but if they're going to beat Texas, they ain't losing here)
No. 3 UConn over No. 6 Cincy
No. 2 SDSU over No. 7 Temple 

Southwest Region

No. 1 Kansas over No. 8 UNLV 
No. 4 Louisville over No. 12 Richmond 
No. 6 Georgetown over No. 3 Purdue
No. 2 Notre Dame over No. 10 Florida State 

Southeast Region

No. 1 Pitt over No. 8 Butler
No. 5 Kansas State over No. 13 Belmont 
No. 11 Gonzaga over No. 3 BYU
No. 2 Florida over No. 10 Michigan State (homer picks are dead)

"Sweet Sixteen" 
East Region

No. 1 Ohio State over No. 4 Kentucky 
No. 3 Syracuse over No. 7 Washington 

West Region 

No. 1 Duke over No. 13 Oakland (homer picks are buried)
No. 3 UConn over No. 2 SDSU

Southwest Region

No. 1 Kansas over No. 4 Louisville
No. 2 Notre Dame over No. 6 Georgetown

Southeast Region

No. 1 Pitt over No. 5 Kansas State
No. 2 Florida over No. 11 Gonzaga (I hate this pick...)

"Elite Eight" 
East Region 

No. 1 Ohio State over No. 3 Syracuse

West Region 

No. 1 Duke over No. 3 UConn

Southwest Region 

No. 2 Notre Dame over No. 1 Kansas

Southeast Region 

No. 1 Pitt over No. 2 Florida

"Final Four" 

No. 1 Duke over No. 1 Ohio State
No. 1 Pitt over No. 2 Notre Dame

"Championship Game" 

No. 1 Duke over No. 1 Pitt, 79-73 (Chances are better that Kyrie Irving's return makes this road really easy for Duke than throwing a wrench in the system)

And, now, the obligatory *sigh* and, ugh, I hate my bracket.

UPDATE:  Winning picks in italics and losers get the cross-through treatment.

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