Here's a look at Sunday's regional finals and my picks to advance to the Final Four in St. Louis.
| ||3rd, Big Ten |
No. 6 seed
|1st, ACC |
No. 1 seed
|North Carolina had a much tougher time against Villanova than anticipated, partly because the Wildcats again jumped out to a big lead. That allowed Villanova to control tempo, and Wisconsin will need to do the same. |
Wisconsin, like Villanova, is comfortable playing a possession-by-possession game, and the Badgers are more athletic than people give them credit for. Alando Tucker is a tough matchup for most players because he plays bigger than he is, can shoot the three and drive the ball.
Who will win? North Carolina. The Heels will look to speed up the pace, and if they can get in front early, that will force the Badgers out of what they like to do.
How Wisconsin could pull it off: The Badgers need to play with the lead. They won't be able to come back against North Carolina the way they did against N.C. State. Wisconsin needs to limit Sean May's touches inside and attack UNC on the offensive end to try to get the Heels in foul trouble.
If Wisconsin can prevent the Tar Heels from one of their big spurts, the Badgers will have a chance.
| ||2nd, Big Ten |
No. 5 seed
|1st, SEC East |
No. 2 seed
|These are two very similar teams. Both are liberal in using their bench, and they probably won't be able to wear down each other like they often wear down opponents. |
Michigan State is a little better offensively in terms of consistent perimeter shooting. Paul Davis was large inside against Duke.
And there's something going on with this team. This group of seniors has been much-maligned by the local and even national media (to a degree) for not having as many championships as the Mateen Cleaves-Andre Hudson-Charlie Bell-Mo Peterson group that preceded them. So this group of Spartans is really motivated.
Who will win? The Spartans have the interchangeable parts, and Chris Hill isn't going to continue missing good three-point shots. They have the scoring ability to win a hard-fought, physical game.
How Kentucky could pull it off: Just do what it's been doing. The Wildcats are so good defensively, and they have a leader in Chuck Hayes who finds ways to make plays at both ends of the floor. But to beat the Spartans, they'll need not just timely oustide shooting but consistent outside shooting.