Mark Story's Final Four predictions

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 17, 2013 

  • NCAA TOURNAMENT

    Louisville vs. Wichita State/Kentucky winner

    When: TBA
    Where: Indianapolis
    Radio: WMKJ-FM 105.5 Lexington
    TV: TBA
    Records: Louisville 31-5 (15-3 AAC)

NCAA Tournament predictions:

FINAL FOUR

Louisville. Looked like a potential national championship team in the Big East Tournament — but as No. 1 overall NCAA seed somehow landed in easily the most difficult region.

New Mexico. Steve Alford's Lobos played Louisville tough in the round of 32 last year and were the class of a very strong Mountain West Conference this season.

Kansas. When in doubt in a region, go chalk — or in this case, Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk.

Miami. Indiana has more talent than the Hurricanes, but in Jim Larranaga (who took George Mason to Final Four in 2006) and Shane Larkin (Barry Larkin's son), Miami might have the best coach/point guard tandem in the tourney.

CHAMPION

Louisville over Miami. Rick Pitino's Cardinals will bring the NCAA title to the commonwealth for a second-straight season

UPSET SPECIALS

No. 11 Belmont, in its first year representing the OVC, will finally break through with an NCAA upset against No. 6 Arizona in the West

No. 13 Montana, behind veterans Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar, will surprise No. 4 Syracuse in the East.

No. 11 Bucknell is going to give No. 6 Butler a dose of its own upset medicine in Rupp Arena in an East Region round of 64 matchup.

CINDERELLAS

No. 11 Minnesota will upset No. 6 UCLA, then Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers will oust No. 3 Florida in the South.

No. 4 Saint Louis, the team that the late Rick Majerus built, will be a sentimental tourney favorite and will advance to the round of 16, where the Billikens will play the pants off overall No. 1 seed Louisville before falling

KENTUCKY TEAMS

Louisville: Will make Rick Pitino the first coach ever to win men's hoops NCAA championships at two different schools.

Western Kentucky: In spite of Ray Harper's post-season magic (9-1 so far in post-season tournaments as WKU head man), the Hilltoppers will not become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 and will fall to Kansas.

BRACKET BREAKDOWN

The Midwest Region looks far and away the toughest. There are no fewer than five teams (Louisville, Duke, Michigan State, St. Louis and Oklahoma State) that, pre-bracket, I considered legitimate Final Four aspirants

The matchup between old-school Bo Ryan and Wisconsin vs. brash Marshall Henderson and Mississippi will be a riveting hoops culture clash

For those playing (for entertainment purposes only) tournament pools, recent history says do not pick upsets below the 13-seed line. In the 2000s, No. 1s are 52-0 vs. 16s; No. 2s are 49-3 against No. 15s (though 2-2 last year); and No. 3s are 49-3 against No. 14s. Conversely, No. 4s are "only" 40-12 vs. No. 13s and No. 5s are 33-19 against No. 12s.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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