I like Gonzaga, Villanova, Louisville and Kentucky in the Final Four. Why?
Because I like the idea of the Zagnuts finally breaking through after making serious noise in the NCAA tournament for close to 20 years but never getting past the Elite Eight.
Because I also like Villanova having a shot at back-to-back national titles. Nobody has done that since Florida in 2006-07 and having the Wildcats in the Final Four would have all the analysts referencing the Gators, at least briefly, as an elite basketball program again. It’s about the only thing that could.
Also because I like the idea of Louisville (potential Midwest champion) against Kentucky (potential South champion) in the national semifinals at Glendale, Ariz. The Wildcats have won their recent NCAA tournament matchups, including a national semifinal in 2012, but the Cardinals already have a 73-70 win over Kentucky this season.
But enough about me.
Looking at this thing logically, which is what all the real experts try to do, North Carolina should make the Final Four. Duke and West Virginia are strong choices to fight their way in, too, and Kansas didn’t get a No. 1 seed for nothing.
There are long-time trends in this tournament to pile on top of that.
John Calipari, for instance, starts each season whining about the inexperience of his four or five new freshman All-Americas and by March has them on a run, like the 11-game win streak Kentucky is on right now. Included in that are a couple of get-it-right games, beating Florida and Tennessee easily after losing to both teams earlier.
As for Villanova, the Wildcats and other Big East teams rarely are featured on the ESPN networks, which is where most of us watch college basketball. Consequently, Jay Wright’s teams tend to fly under the radar just a bit, which is amazing for so consistently strong a program. Villanova’s only lost three games this season and two of those were to Butler, a No. 4 seed in this tournament.
Hey, you can drive yourself crazy with all of this stuff but in the end it comes down to an educated guess and mine is Gonzaga over Kentucky for the national title, if only because nobody else has a 7-foot-1, 300-pound athlete named Przemek Karnowski, which in English translates to Get Out of the Way.