For the first time in a while all 1-seeds make it to the Elite 8, but the real tests begin here for all four of them. I must admit I keep picking against Syracuse every round and they somehow come out on top, so what do I think of their chances against the top seed in the region? They have a chance. Yikes. I can’t believe I’ve finally been forced to admit that. The other three contests will be better, but they have a chance.
I was suitably impressed with the Herculean efforts by all the top seeds to this point, but I do see a lower seed breaking through into the Final Four. But which one will it be? As usual, I will start in the South.
(1) KANSAS vs. (2) Villanova – This one guarantees to be a high octane game, with two thriving offenses facing off. It will be the stiffest test Kansas has faced yet, possibly the stiffest one it will face in this whole tournament, because the Wildcats match up well against the Jayhawks, and if the higher seed is off its game just a little bit this one could go to the team from Philadelphia. But I don’t see it happening. Pick: KANSAS.
(1) NORTH CAROLINA vs. (6) Notre Dame – I keep picking against the Tarheels and they keep proving me wrong, round after round. Providence had Dunn and Bentil, but it didn’t matter. Indiana had taken out Kentucky so there was a chance, but then Carolina dropped 101 points. I’m not going against them this time. Pick: NORTH CAROLINA.
(1) OREGON vs. (2) Oklahoma – This was a game I had circled on my bracket when I first set it, as I hoped against hope it would materialize… and thankfully it has. The Ducks have been much maligned as a 1-seed because many believe the Sooners are better. I don’t hold to that opinion, though, and Hield came back down to earth in the Sweet 16. I’m holding to seed here, even though this one should come down to the wire. Pick: OREGON.
(1) VIRGINIA vs. (10) Syracuse – So here I am once again stuck with the Orange. Yes, I have a degree from Syracuse but I just didn’t see them getting here. They aren’t elite, but somehow they are Elite, or at least this year they are. The only thing standing in their way from a quite improbably Final Four is the team that many believed shouldn’t have been a 1-seed. But the Cavaliers have played like a 1-seed, taking care of their business, and I don’t see a letdown here, even against the zone. Pick: VIRGINIA.
Yes, that means I see all 1-seeds advancing to the Final Four for the first time since the only time it’s ever happened. Watch out, Houston.