I hate the "Elite Eight." I refuse to use it. So there.
Before we get going, Bill Simmons stole my Snoop Dogg/LBC angle from yesterday (not that it was particularly original), then included Name of the Year as his "favorite March Madness timekiller" today. I think he's a closet fan of the site.
And, after further review (especially the criminal seeding), I'm changing my pick, putting UNLV over Georgia Tech. They could be Wisky, as well, but I'm not going that far.
To the picks...
MIDWEST - I know it was their best game of the season, but after watching the Pac-10 final, I get the feeling Oregon is peaking at exactly the right time. Regardless of who comes out of the top half of this bracket (I have Maryland; the rest of the planet has Florida), I think OREGON gets the win.
WEST - Normally, I would look at the numbers and knee-jerk choose Rock Chalk over UCLA. But let's have a look at KU's losses this season. Oral Roberts and DePaul make virtually no sense, but Tech and A&M were losses against great game coaches. And if there's one thing Bill Self will never be confused with, it's a great game coach. When the talent gap tightens, it's the coaching that matters. And guess what? Ben Howland is one of those coaches. Throw in the experience from a Final Four run and games in their own backyard, and I'll take UCLA over KU.
EAST - Too much size. Too much Jeff Green. Too much ability to slow down Carolina. Too much mask on Hansborough's melon. It's everyone's favorite #2 seed, but I too am going with GEORGETOWN.
SOUTH - Ohio State was playing with 9 chiefs and no indians for a good chunk of the season, but all of that changed sometime in mid-February. Finally, they were content to work the ball through Oden. And great things happened, like two dismantlings of Wisconsin. I'm the first one to admit the Big Ten is down this season, and there's no way the conference deserved the number of bids it got, but tOSU is for real. And, despite my love of Acie Law and all the clutch shots that come with him, I don't think A&M has enough to stay in this game. OHIO STATE is my only #1 seed in the Final Four.
OREGON vs. UCLA - Oregon won game 1 by 2 at home. UCLA won game 2 by 12 at home. UCLA is the better team. I'm taking the Bruins.
tOSU vs. GEORGETOWN - Georgetown has beaten its opponents all year long by occupying the middle with their big guys, putting the ball in Green's hands, and letting him destroy the opponent. I don't think you can beat tOSU that way. Oden plays his one-man zone and contains Hibbert, and the never-ending wave of tOSU perimeter players stifles Jeff Green (to the extent Jeff Green can be stifled). In other words, the team with a dominant center and a never-ending stream of perimeter players who can play some defense is the worst possible matchup for Georgetown. So long as tOSU's shooting doesn't go south (and it hasn't crippled them in a game since Oden got to 75% health), tOSU is in the final...
tOSU vs. UCLA - ...and they're an equally horrible matchup for UCLA, a team without a big man to answer Oden. They should have had it in football; they'll get it in basketball. THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY is your national champion. Get down, Mr. Oden...