Mar 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo reacts with emotion after defeating the Michigan Wolverines in the championship game for the Big Ten college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Michigan State defeats Michigan 69-55. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Staff Picks: NCAA Tournament

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Last week was the Big Ten Tournament, and it marks my first defeat of the season in the weekly Staff Picks article. In fact, I took last, thank you Indiana and Nebraska for letting me down. The winner was Brad, congratulations! He correctly picked Michigan State to win it all, nice job.

My NCAA Tournament picks looks as follows:

South

Sweet Sixteen-
Florida – UCLA Syracuse – Kansas

No surprises here. Ohio State is the 6 seed and I just don’t see them having enough shooting to get past the Syracuse zone. I wouldn’t be too shocked if VCU knocked off UCLA, but I think Alford will have his boys playing well opening weekend.

Elite 8-
Florida – Kansas

I don’t think UCLA has good enough guard play to handle Florida’s press and high pressure defense. On the other side I think Kansas is too talented and too well coached to lose to a Syracuse team who plays zone and has struggled down the stretch of the regular season.

Final Four-
Kansas

It’s time for Wiggins to show he is the best player in college basketball. He has been improving and progressing throughout the season, and I think the South Region will be his time to shine.

West

Sweet Sixteen-
Arizona – San Diego State Creighton – Wisconsin

Yes, I went all chalk again, which has me nervous in this bracket. I think Arizona’s toughest game in the bracket is their second round game verse Oklahoma State, but I see Arizona pulling it out. Creighton, or Doug and crew, have a difficult game against Nebraska looming in the second round. I think Doug lights up the scoreboard and Carries Creighton past Nebraska and into the sweet 16.

Elite 8-
Arizona – Wisconsin

I think Arizona will fly by San Diego State right into the elite 8. Wisconsin will have a very interesting match up against Creighton. A match-up I’m surprised they put together, usually a team like Creighton or Wisconsin gets matched against a pressing, highly athletic team to put a contrast in style on display. Since it is not that kind of match-up, I don’t see Creighton being able to out Wisconsin, Wisconsin.

Final Four-
Arizona

Arizona is too solid out top on the perimeter and too big underneath to lose before the final four. Their starting line-up boasts 3 players 6’8″ or taller.

East

Sweet 16-
Virginia – Michigan State Providence – Connecticut

Virginia is too good defensively to not make the sweet 16. They are ranked number 1 in opponents points per game, and because of that, they will be a tough out in the tournament. Michigan State has one of the toughest games of their tournament in the second round against Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a tough, and fast team. Kilpatrick is my favorite player in the country, he is a hard nosed point guard that can score with the best of them. However, Michigan State has too much size, and Payne will push MSU to the sweet 16. Providence is led by senior point guard Cotton. He is one of the all time leading scorers at the school, and great guard play can carry a team in the tournament. That holds true for Napier and Connecticut as well, I’m not a huge fan of the Villanova team and I think Uconn will slide by them into the sweet 16.

Elite 8-
Michigan State – Providence

This match-up sets up for Henton, former Lansing star, to face a team that didn’t offer him a scholarship. Now that he has dominated the Big East for three seasons, I would assume Izzo wishes he had that scholarship back. Henton gives Providence the defense, and junk-yard dog attitude to advance to the elite 8 in the tournament. Michigan State will be able to advance pass Virginia because I don’t see Virginia being able to score with the Spartans. Both teams are great defensively, but MSU has too much star power.

Final Four-
Michigan State

Michigan State advances to the final four because they have stars all over the floor. They may have the best starting line-up in all of college basketball.

Midwest

Sweet 16-
Wichita State – Louisville Duke – Michigan
Wichita State will advance to the sweet 16 with a possible match-up against Kentucky. This would be a great match-up to watch a team full of blue chip recruit freshman against a team made of mostly upperclassmen who didn’t receive all the high school accolades.

Elite 8-
Louisville – Duke

College basketball is all about coaching, and it’s tough to argue with Pitino and Coach K. I think Duke pushes past Michigan in a great game. Both teams are great offensive teams, but Duke has Jabari. Jabari is about the best freshman I have ever seen, and I see him putting the blue devils on his back into the elite 8.

Final Four-
Duke

Louisville will try to pressure Duke and turn them over, but Duke is Duke and Coach K is Coach K. They will be prepared for the pressure. I think Quinn Cook, Duke’s point guard, will be too good to razzle and will be the main reason Duke advances to the final four.

Final Four-
Kansas – Michigan State Arizona – Duke

Talk about a classic match-up in the final four. I see Michigan State’s experience pushing them past the freshman dominated Kansas team. Arizona whooped up on Duke earlier this year, and I think they are still too big for Duke to handle.

Championship-
Michigan State – Arizona

If this is the championship game, it will be a great match-up. Arizona has a steady and solid point guard that doesn’t ever make mistakes, plus a great shooting guard, Johnson, that can do it all. I think the guard position is a wash, and then when you add in the size of Arizona, they have to be the favorite to win it all.

Champion
Arizona

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