I'm going to put myself out there right now.
Having never watched a majority of teams play this year, here are my Final Four predictions:
I am going to say that I am probably the only one out there that has these picks. And by the end of tonight, we'll know if they are still viable.
You'll say to me: "what if you're wrong"...
If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. You'll put me in jail and throw away the key.
But if I'm right....if I'm right...... Lenny....
EAST bracket: Ohio St.
I have never see them play this year, but they have been ranked in the top 5 seemingly throughout the season. They also seem to have one of the top players in the country, Jared Sullinger (I've never seen him play either).
There is usually one bracket every year that plays out according to seeding. I'm going with this one. Ohio St. over North Carolina in the Elite 8...just because.
Here is where we get non-canonical...
WEST bracket: UCONN
This can go either way. I really wouldn't be shocked if they lose in the first round to Bucknell. That is the 'trap' game. There is a tendency sometimes for Big East tournament champion teams to bow out early. This is most likely due to them depleting enormous amounts of resources to win their conference crown. 5 games in 5 nights can do that.
However, they have Kemba walker.
With that said, if they get by Bucknell, I think they handle Cincy and San Diego State.
I know San Diego was able to finally figure out the one man team BYU (Jimmer) in the MWC title game.
But UCONN has more depth.
A potential match-up with Duke in the elite 8 should be fun. They have had two classic match-ups in the past and I wouldn't expect this to be different. Still, I think the Huskies may just have the Blue Devils number.
SOUTHWEST bracket: Notre Dame
I HAVE seen these guys play. And let me tell you, they are impressive.
They have the Big East player of the year, Ben Hansbrough, who averages 18.5 points per game and shoots a better percentage than Jimmer Fredette. They also have a lot of weapons beyond him: at least 3 knockdown shooters, at least 3 excellent ball handlers (including their center), a bruiser, and they are long.
Furthermore they don't have you're typical 1 dimensional type of shooter, we're talking about guys that get to the cup and finish - as some poor guy on Louisville found out the hard way.
My concern with them is perhaps lack of interior size. Kansas is big.
But if these guy get it rolling from outside....watch out.
Plus they got their bad loss out of the way in the Big East semi's against Louisville.
SOUTHEAST bracket: St. John's
What? You expected me NOT to go with the home team?
There is also always one bracket where a team no expects makes it through.
So why not us?
Our first time in the tournament since 2002, but really our first time being a threat since 2000.
They have shown they can compete and beat the best.
Let me tell you, there is really an opportunity for these guys.
I know they lost an important piece in D.J. Kennedy, but I'm thinking they'll rally around him and step up.
10 Big East seniors.
Having upperclassmen is good recipe for making a run in the tournament.
They also have a big-time player in Dwight hardy.
If they play with confidence and NYC swag, then it is on.
Some people say they will go down tonight against Gonzaga.
This is payback time.
If the Johnnies play aggressive and dictate the tempo, it will be in our favor.
We lost in 2000 to Gonzaga because we didn't enough depth and height. This year is different.
I think they then handle Jimmer and BYU in the 2nd round.
Next I have them beating an always gritty Michigan St. team in a potential ugly sweet 16 match-up.
(I have Michigan St. beating Florida in the second round - my brother always tells me well-coached Tom Izzo teams are poised to make a run).
And then Pittsburgh in the elite 8?
For some reason Pitt never does well in the tournament, even though they get decent seeds. Maybe this is the year they change that. Or maybe this is the year they let another Big East team beat them and get to the final four on a last second shot.
St. John's beat them earlier in the year at the Garden. They can do it again.
There has been an amazing resurgence in NYC basketball this year.
No time to stop now.
Besides, when it comes to dancing....
As the late great GURU of Gang Starr said:
"you know your pops told you watch them New York boys..."
The Storm is coming!