Eric Mirlis
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March 14 - Filling Out the Bracket

It is that time of year again. My two favorite sports days are here on Thursday and Friday, as 64 teams
gather to kick off the greatest tournament in all of pro sports - the NCAA Tournament.

And, while everyone has a prediction, I figure I would chime in with my two cents.

So, get out your bracket and read this very closely. Follow my direction and bet against me - you are
guaranteed to win. Actually, I feel pretty confident this year.

The key to all of this is accurately predicting which of the games will produce the upsets. I also don't
believe that the 8 vs. 9 or 7 vs. 10 games are really upset. You can't pick too many teams above 10,
but you have to pick a few. So, following that line of thinking, here are the teams seeded 11 and
higher I have winning in the first round:

Atlanta Regional--
13 Iona over 4 LSU

Oakland Regional--
11 San Diego State over 6 Indiana

Minneapolis Regional--
15 Davidson over 2 Ohio State

It is only three, but I actually feel pretty confident on all three, even Davidson. I actually think the
Wildcats are owed this win, given their snub from last season's tournament after they went unbeaten
in leaguer play before losing in the SoCon Tournament. As for the other two, I don't think people
realize just how good Iona is, not to mention their NBA pedigree with coach Jeff Ruland and their
leading scorer Steve Burtt Jr. I also think the Big Ten is incredibly overrated this season, so even with
the Mike Davis Farewell Tour in full swing, I just don't think Indiana should be in this tournament, let
alone seeded as high as sixth.

Rule number two in picking a bracket is to remember that at least 1 or 2 seed will not make it to the
second weekend. Besides the aforementioned Ohio State, the only other team that won't get there is
Tennessee. The Volunteers are also seeded a bit high at 2 and will face Missouri Valley regular
season and battle tested Wichita State in the second round. I do see all four top seeds making the
Sweet Sixteen, though.

Once the second weekend hits, anything really can happen. Remember not to pick too many #1
seeds to move on to the Final Four, and watch the hot teams entering the Big Dance that are still
alive. Here is where Duke, Villanova and an overrated Memphis team all meet their demise - Duke to
insanely hot Big East Tournament champ Syracuse, Memphis to Big East runner-up Pittsburgh and
'Nova to ACC runner-up BC. Also remember that a couple teams will be here that are playing the
Cinderella role and will see the magic run out - I've got Wichita State here, obviously, as well as
another MVC team, 10 seed UNI.

So now it is time to name my Final Four. After it all shakes out, following my rules above, I go with a 1,
2, 3 and 4 seed...UConn, Texas, Gonzaga and BC, with UConn over Texas in the finals.

Best of luck filling out your bracket - I'm sure you'll do a better job than me.