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Kalemkerian: Avenging my busted bracket

| Thursday, March 24, 2022

After the agony of busted brackets and our men’s team making a bittersweet exit from the tournament on Sunday night, we have a moment to catch our collective breath before the Sweet 16 starts…today! After three long days off, the shrunken field will battle it out through both rounds this weekend to claim the coveted Final Four berth. Since my original bracket has just eight of the Sweet 16 teams right, I’m granting myself a second chance at bracket glory. Hopefully, I’ll do better this time around.

West Region

Gonzaga vs. Arkansas

The number one overall seed needed second-half heroics from Drew Timme to outlast Memphis, and the close call proved that they are indeed vulnerable. They have a powerful combination of experience and talent, but questions still remain about whether they can hang with the best. Arkansas, who played two close games against lesser competition, shouldn’t be a problem for Mark Few’s Bulldogs.

Texas Tech vs. Duke

After one offensive masterclass and one very ugly game, the Red Raiders become the third team to attempt to spoil Coach K’s final game. Besides projected lottery pick Paulo Banchero, Duke doesn’t inspire much confidence. This has the makings of another ugly, low-scoring game and whoever emerges will be outmatched by Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.

Gonzaga to the Final Four

South Region

Arizona vs. Houston

This is the game I’m most excited about. With only eight losses between them, Arizona and Houston both boast high-scoring offenses that don’t rely on one star player. These are two of the most complete teams in the tournament. I have Houston winning on a buzzer-beater, but either way, I’m picking whoever wins this game to go all the way.

Villanova vs. Michigan

Apparently Michigan had a chip on their shoulder after an outcry from much of the basketball world that they made the field of 68. In the end, the Wolverines get the last laugh. Villanova is one of the most overrated two-seeds in recent history, and Michigan’s “Cinderella” run will continue to the Elite Eight… but no further.

Houston to the Final Four

Midwest Region

Kansas vs. Providence

Providence has been sneaky good this season, and a resounding win over Richmond has set the stage for their toughest test this season. Kansas has a veteran lineup and is rock solid on both sides of the court. Defense is the Friars’ calling card, but at the end of the day, they just won’t be able to put up enough points to hang with the one seed.

Iowa State vs. Miami

The only good news from this matchup is that it ensures that at least one double-digit seed will be in the Elite Eight. The bad news: this game is unlikely to feature much good basketball. Iowa State (who scored a meager 36 points in a game earlier this month) will be outmatched by a Hurricane’s team that has gotten hot at the right time. Miami’s victory will be short-lived, as Kansas will both relish this Elite Eight matchup and beat them handily.

Kansas to the Final Four

East Region

North Carolina vs. UCLA

A nearly disastrous second-half collapse followed by a resilient OT win encapsulated UNC’s feast-or-famine season. When healthy and clicking, their group is talented enough to hang with the best teams in the country, a group that UCLA is certainly a part of. The Tar Heels are much more dangerous than their seed would indicate, and I have them pulling off consecutive upsets.

Purdue vs. St. Peter’s

Can the Peacocks continue a magical run? Unlikely, but they’ll surely give Jaden Ivey and Purdue a run for their money. Ultimately, the Boilermakers’ star power and size will be too much for this tournament’s Cinderella team to overcome, and they will fail to become the first 15-seed to make it out of the Sweet 16.

North Carolina to the Final Four

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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