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Palm Coast Thursday, Mar. 17, 2011 7 years ago

Madness begins

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by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

It’s about that time when so many people (including me) stay glued to TVs for hours on end, checking their brackets over and over. (Please don’t tell my bosses.) It’s the madness that hooks everyone.

I know I only went 2-for-5 with my football picks, but I’m not ashamed. And, drum rolllllll, please … here are my picks to make it to this year’s Final Four:

Ohio State (No. 1 seed) — The Buckeyes (32-2) are the No. 1 overall seed for the tournament and top seed in the East region. But Ohio State is unique in that it doesn’t just bank on big-man Jared Sullinger, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds en route to the Big 10 championship. The Buckeyes have several threats to complement Sullinger’s presence inside. Jon Diebler — who earned the nickname “Three-bler” — is lights out from behind the three-point line, shooting 50% on the season.

Kansas (No. 1 seed) — The Jayhawks earned the No. 1 seed in the Southwest region. They’ve quietly gone 32-2 this season and defeated Texas, 85-73, to claim the Big 12 championship. Kansas is led by junior forward Marcus Morris, who is scoring 17 points per game and grabbing about seven rebounds per game. Kansas might also have some motivation after losing to Northern Iowa in the second round of last year’s tourney.

Duke (No. 1 seed) — The Duke Blue Devils are the No. 1 seed in the West region. Duke defeated North Carolina to claim the ACC tournament title on the way to a 30-4 finish heading into the NCAA tournament. Senior Nolan Smith brings experience and skills to the court for the Dukies. And freshman guard Kyrie Irving could return from an injury that forced him to miss most of the season. The defending national champions got a favorable draw in the West region, and should be en route to the Final Four.

Florida (No. 2 seed) — The Florida Gators are the No. 2 seed in the Southeast region. The Gators lost to Kentucky in the SEC championship game, but did win the regular-season crown. The Gators are returning five starters from last year’s tournament team — which was knocked out in the first round by BYU. Billy Donovan is a seasoned coach in the NCAA tournament, and the Gators are led by SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons. The Gators could get revenge against BYU in the Sweet 16 if both teams continue to advance.

To talk about the NCAA tournament or anything sports, e-mail Andrew at [email protected]

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