The day of bracket reckoning in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is very nearly upon us. I hope you're ready to lose all of your final four teams by the end of the first round. In the hopes of avoiding that fate, we're going to try to pick every tournament game. Up first, the East regional.
1 Ohio St. Vs.
16 UTSA/Alabama St.: This one is kind of a no-brainer, right? We're still waiting for the first No.1 seed to lose to a 16 in the first round, and I don't think that it will be happening in this particular contest. Ohio St. is just too strong.
8 George Mason Vs.
9 Villanova: On paper, Villanova is the much more talented team. But they just strike me as a team that has completely given up. They lost to USF in the Big East Tournament, and I don't know that they'll be able to get their swag back before the tourny. I think George Mason plays hard enough to win this one.
5 West Virginia Vs.
UAB/Clemson: I don't really feel comfortable picking any team that has to win a play-in game to make the field. I don't have a ton of faith in West Virginia, but I think they are better than either of the teams they will be facing. There will be some 5/12 upsets in this tournament as there always are, but I don't think it happens here.
4 Kentucky Vs.
13 Princeton: Alright, so we're a little chalky early, but I don't think any of these picks should surprise anyone. Kentucky is young, and that will cause a lot of problems for them later in the tournament. But this early, their talent should be able to carry them. 6 Xavier Vs. 11 Marquette: Marquette is severely undersized, but they play so hard that I don't that matters against an A-10 opponent. Xavier does not have the size to exploit Marquette's weakness, and I think that they play too hard to lose this one. Yay, our first upset!
3 Syracuse Vs.
14 Indiana St.: I think Larry Bird would have to find an unused year of eligibility if the Sycamores want to have a chance against Syracuse. I'm sure the Orange have a bad taste in their mouth from their loss to UConn, and they might try to take it out on their first round opponent. I expect them to advance.
7 Washington Vs.
10 Georgia: Washington is one of my favorite teams in the tournament this year. This tournament is won by guards, and Washington has one of the best in Isiah Thomas. They don't have a ton of size, but they do a good enough job rebounding to ignite their fast break. I like the Huskies, and I don't think this is the only game they win either.
2 North Carolina Vs.
15 LIU: Thus concludes a pretty boring first regional. North Carolina didn't look great in the ACC Tournament. We saw what happened when they played a team that was able to hold onto an early lead that they got. I'm not sure they will go very far in this tournament, but they will win their first round game.