Parity in college basketball has been a big theme all year. So, it would seem reasonable to assume that the expert brackets for the 2013 NCAA tournament would produce a variety of Final Four picks.
When examining the consensus Final Four teams from these experts, would the picks follow chalk? Or would there be some variety in the teams they picked to make it to Atlanta?
To get the consensus picks, a Sweet 16 of college basketball analysts was compiled. The experts include:
From The Sporting News: Mike DeCourcy
Here are the consensus Final Four teams from these top analysts.
Midwest Region: No. 1 Louisville
Voting breakdown: Louisville (14 votes), Michigan State (2)
It comes as no surprise that the analysts pegged Louisville, the top overall seed, as an overwhelming favorite to come out of the Midwest Region. The Cardinals have won 10 games in a row and really seem to be peaking at the right time.
Louisville has great guard play in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva to go along with the No. 1-ranked defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
Michigan State received its two votes from Phelps and Williams. The Spartans have lost four of their last seven games, but it is tough to discount Tom Izzo in March.
What seems most surprising is the team that didn’t receive a single vote, the Duke Blue Devils. Duke lost its quarterfinal game in the ACC tournament to Maryland. It was the first loss the Blue Devils suffered this year with Ryan Kelly in the lineup.
West Region: No. 2 Ohio State
Voting breakdown: Ohio State (8 votes), Gonzaga (4), New Mexico (3), Wisconsin (1)
Ohio State lost three of four games in February, and many began to doubt the Buckeyes, especially since they had not accomplished much outside of Columbus to that point.
Then, Ohio State won at Indiana and took three straight to win the Big Ten tournament in Chicago. The Buckeyes are riding an eight-game winning streak, making it no surprise that they are the pick by the experts to make it to Atlanta from the West Region.
Gonzaga has an excellent record at 31-2, but the Zags don’t have the top-level wins that the other No. 1 seeds have. Still, Goodman, Anthony, Wetzel and Auerbach picked Gonzaga to reach its first Final Four.
Davis, Gottlieb and Prisbell went with New Mexico while Parrish was the only one to take Wisconsin.
South Region: No. 1 Kansas
Voting breakdown: Kansas (5 votes), Florida (4), Georgetown (3), VCU (3), Michigan (1)
Kansas was barely the pick by the experts to make the Final Four out of the South Region, which contains four regular season champions of major conferences in the Jayhawks, Georgetown, Florida and UCLA.
After dropping three in a row at the beginning of February, the Jayhawks have won 10 of their last 11 games. They breezed through the Big 12 tournament with each of their three wins coming by at least 15 points.
Four analysts, Goodman, Winn, Gottlieb and DeCourcy, went with Florida to come out of the South Region. Obviously, they are either banking on the Gators solving their late-game woes or the Gators beating everyone by double digits.
Phelps, Anthony and Forde picked Georgetown to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 2007.
Perhaps the most surprising result was Bilas, Parrish and Auerbach going with VCU. The Rams, of course, made that miracle run from the First Four to the Final Four back in 2011. This year, they may be more talented, but they will have to potentially get past Michigan in Auburn Hills in the round of 32.
Vitale was the analyst who went with Michigan. The Wolverines were 20-1 to start the year, but they have lost six of their last 12 games.
East Region: No. 1 Indiana
Voting breakdown: Indiana (10 votes), Miami (5), Syracuse (1)
Indiana was the overwhelming pick to make it out of the East Region with 10 analysts picking the Hoosiers. The road Indiana would have to travel to Atlanta is an unexpected one.
The Hoosiers entered the Big 10 tournament with aspirations of earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. A semifinal loss coupled with Louisville winning the Big East tournament pushed the Cardinals to that spot, meaning Indiana was pushed out of the Midwest Region and the opportunity to play in Indianapolis.
The Hurricanes are the first ACC team to win both outright and not earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Davis, Phelps, Anthony, Williams and Prisbell picked Miami to win the East Region in Washington, D.C., the site where current Hurricane coach Jim Larranaga and George Mason cut down the nets back in 2006.
The lone expert to pick Syracuse to reach the Final Four was bracketologist Jerry Palm.