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NCAA WGR Staff Picks



The Madness is back in Buffalo and the draw of teams that are in town might be the best of any region. Syracuse headlines the group; with their horde of fans coming from Western and Central New York. Ohio State, UConn and Villanova all are staples of college basketball. Atlantic-10 champion St. Joseph’s, along with Dayton and Milwaukee round out the group of teams trying to make Buffalo their first of trips along the way to Dallas and the Final Four.

Our WGR 550 hoop lovers are here to provide your last minute insight for your office pools for each of the regions for who will advance to the second week of tournament play.

SOUTH:
Howard Simon: Florida, VCU, Ohio St, Kansas
Brian Koziol: Florida, VCU, Syracuse, Kansas
Sal Capaccio: Florida, VCU, Syracuse, New Mexico
Pat Malacaro: Florida, UCLA, Syracuse, Kansas
Dan Cave: Florida, VCU, Ohio State, Kansas
Pete Carges: Florida, UCLA, Dayton, Kansas

Malacaro: I keep wrestling back and forth with The Orange and Ohio State. Something tells me that Jim Boeheim's club will be just good enough to make it out of the First Niagara Center, but the rematch of the 2003 National Championship will go the way of the Jayhawks next week. And UCLA is my dark horse of the Tournament. I do not think their Pac-12 Tournament title run is a fluke. The Bruins are hot, and hot teams are scary this time of year.

Pete: Don't be hating on Dayton. The Flyers will soar past the rival Buckeyes and then squeeze the Orange. Meanwhile the Gators will get another chance to chomp on UCLA like they did in the mid 2000's and Kansas will be JayOk against a weak bottom half of the bracket.

East:
Howard Simon: Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State, Villanova
Brian Koziol: Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State, Villanova
Sal Capaccio: Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State, UConn
Pat Malacaro: Virginia, Michigan State, North Carolina, St. Joe’s
Dan Cave: Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State, Villanova
Pete Carges: Virginia, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Villanova

Koziol: Virginia impressed me with quality wins in the ACC. Winning the regular season title and the conference tournament has me thinking that the Cavs can knock off everyone’s favorite Michigan State in the Sweet 16 round. They play great defense which is so good that it can win them games even on a cold-shooting night. Iowa State can score from both inside and out and I like the Cyclones, who won the best conference in the country, to advance past UNC in the round of 32.

Howard: Michigan State has gotten healthy and playing very well off BIG 10 championship, Villanova- will be motivated after early exit in Big East tournament and I like Iowa State because WGR's Paul Hamilton is an alum.

WEST:
Howard Simon: Arizona, San Diego State, Creighton, Wisconsin
Brian Koziol: Arizona, San Diego State, Creighton, Wisconsin
Sal Capaccio: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oregon
Pat Malacaro: Arizona, Oklahoma, Creighton, Wisconsin
Dan Cave: Arizona, Oklahoma, Creighton, Wisconsin
Pete Carges: Arizona, San Diego State, Baylor, Wisconsin

Sal: I think the West is up for grabs. The Big 12 was the best conference and that's why I have three teams from there getting into the Sweet 16.

Howard: Arizona will get through as I have no top seed failing to get to Sweet 16. San Diego State will advance because Steve Fisher's teams are always good and you got to take Creighton because who doesn't love the nickname "Dougie McBuckets"? Wisconsin is good and lost in the BIG 10 shuffle amidst talk about Michigan and Michigan State.

MIDWEST:
Howard Simon: Wichita State, Louisville, Duke, Michigan
Brian Koziol: Wichita State, NC State, Duke, Michigan
Sal Capaccio: Wichita State, NC State, Duke, Michigan
Pat Malacaro: Wichita State, Louisville, Duke, Michigan
Dan Cave: Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Michigan
Pete Carges: Wichita State, Louisville, Duke, Michigan

Cave: No offense to Wichita State, but I can’t in good conscience take seriously a school that I wasn’t even aware of two years ago. A Kentucky-Louisville Sweet 16 showdown is too good to pass up, as is Duke-Michigan. If the basketball gods have any sense of fun (which I think they probably do, but who knows), they’ll make it happen.

Malacaro: If there was one team I could "get behind" for the tournament it is the Shockers. I feel like plenty of folks forget that Greg Marshall's club went to the Final Four last year, and are not giving them the proper amount of respect. I am also old school, and think that running the table means something. Going 34-0 is no minor accomplishment. I place plenty of weight on the fact that Wichita State won all of the games it should have. They did not crack once, and is something no one else in The Dance can say.


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