John and Tim Pick the West Bracket

Andy will lead a couple Raut-ins...

1 Syracuse vs. 16 Vermont

Tim: Behind Sorrentine, Coppenrath, and the surprising contributions of Germane Mopa-Njiala, the Catamounts will shock the world and the fourth seeded Orange in the 2005 NCAA Tournament!

John: Wouldn’t it be amazing if that happened again?

Tim: And if Gus Johnson called it again…

Tim’s Pick: Syracuse

John’s Pick: Syracuse

8 Gonzaga vs. 9 Florida State

Tim: I saw Gonzaga in person lose by 35 to Duke, and yet I’m still picking them to conquer a Seminoles team that has not, at any point, impressed me this season.

John: FSU hasn’t impressed you? What about their coach’s attempts to legalize drugs in the free zones?

Tim’s Pick: Gonzaga

John’s Pick: Gonzaga

5 Butler vs. 12 UTEP

John: I’m picking UTEP, not so much because I’m down on Butler—who actually snuck to 8th in the latest coach’s poll—but because I need to throw in my obligatory 12-5 upset.

Tim: I’m excited to see execution trump athleticism as the Bulldogs, who have more than enough experience playing with Matt Howard in foul trouble, will find a way to frustrate Derrick Caracter and the Miners.

Tim’s Pick: Butler

John’s Pick: UTEP

4 Vanderbilt vs. 13 Murray State

Tim: One of only three 30-win teams in the field—the other two being Kansas and Kentucky—the Racers will show they are more than just the product of a soft schedule, surprising a Vanderbilt team that has struggled down the stretch. In other words, Isiah Canaan will lead his team to the promised land (the second round—they’re not beating Butler).

John: The 30 wins absolutely are the product of a soft schedule—they have a grand total of three games against the RPI Top-100—and their strength of schedule ranks 263rd in the country. And Vanderbilt doesn’t even play in the SEC West.

Tim’s Pick: Murray State

John’s Pick: Vanderbilt

6 Xavier vs. 11 Minnesota

Tim: Minnesota, who barely belongs in the Tournament, will provide little resistance to a Xavier team that will make third consecutive Sweet 16.

John: Am I the only one who’s hoping Minnesota shocks the world to get to the National Championship and set up a Tubby Smith vs. Kentucky Vengeance Game?

Tim’s Pick: Xavier

John’s Pick: Xavier

3 Pittsburgh vs. 14 Oakland

John: Oakland always wins at least one game in the NCAA Tournament—since its only previous appearance was in 2005, when the upset Alabama A&M in the Opening Round Game. Even so, I’m betting against history and with Jamie Dixon, who has really overachieved with the Panther this year.

Tim: If a top-three seed is going to lose this year, this is it. But a top-three seed isn’t going to lose this year.

Tim’s Pick: Pitt

John’s Pick: Pitt

7 BYU vs. 10 Florida

Tim: All season long the Gators have beaten teams they were better than and lost to teams they were worse than. They’re worse than the Cougars, who will notch an elusive first-round victory en route to the Elite Eight. Everyone will know who Jimmer Fredette is in two weeks.

John: Well, that name will certainly help—how can you not love a guy named Jimmer? By the way, this is probably the place to point out that Florida was the only team keeping you from going 65-for-65 this year. Teams that sneak in often do well; I’ll take the Gators.

Tim’s Pick: BYU

John’s Pick: Florida

2 Kansas State vs. 15 North Texas

John: Jacob Pullen—Kansas State’s best player—has a beard. I love beards. Hence, I love Kansas State.

Tim: As a rule, I do not pick teams with rhyming nicknames. Sucks for the Mean Green here, just like it did for fellow Sun Belters, the Ragin’ Cajuns in ’05.

Tim’s Pick: Kansas State

John’s Pick: Kansas State

Elite Eight

Tim: Syracuse over BYU—The Orange won’t need 43 points from now-assistant coach Gerry McNamara to stave off a BYU upset this time around, even in the Cougars’ Holy Land.

John: Syracuse over Pitt—Expect a lot of intra-Big East showdowns in this Tournament. The Orange take their region easily, despite getting screwed by the Committee into the last No. 1 seed.

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