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Predicting the unpredictable

#1 Kansas v. #5 Maryland
For many, it’s a foregone conclusion that Kansas will win this game. I see the Terrapins keeping it closer than expected, though. 6’11” freshman Diamond Stone will be a lot for the Jayhawks to handle down low and Melo Tremble is returning to 2015 form. It’s not enough as Wayne Seldon, Jr. continues his hot streak to lift Kansas to victory. 72-68
#2 Villanova v. #3 Miami
Normally more of a football school, Miami surprised many by defeating the tournament’s most popular Cinderella pick, Wichita State. They are playing some of their best basketball of the year, thanks to a dominating 28-point performance by the team’s point guard, Angel Rodriguez. Villanova, on the other hand, have yet to be challenged after two games won by a combined 39 points. Rodriguez shines as the Hurricanes visit the Elite Eight for the first time ever. 77-75
#1 Oregon v. #4 Duke
If the Ducks struggled with Saint Joseph in the Round of 32, then Duke will pose quite the threat. Essentially, the Blue Devils are like Saint Joseph 2.0 — a little better at every aspect of the game. Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram continue their domination as Duke takes out Chaplain Blackmon’s champion pick. 67-61
#2 Oklahoma v. #3 Texas A&M
Texas A&M is thanking their lucky stars that they are even in this game after an improbable comeback in the previous round. The magic is running out against the Sooners as Buddy Hield and Co. put on an offensive exhibition. 80-70
#1 North Carolina v. #5 Indiana
As recently as last year, Indiana fans were campaigning for the firing of head coach Tom Crean. Oh what a difference a year makes. The Hoosiers are looking for their first visit to the Elite Eight since 2002, but North Carolina is the first seed for a reason. This game is close, but the Tar Heel’s Brice Johnson’s athleticism is the difference-maker in this one. 84-81
#6 Notre Dame v. #7 Wisconsin
These teams have quite the flair for the dramatic with both advancing on last-second shots. Honestly, who would have thought either team would be in the Elite Eight? Not me, that’s for sure. It’s hard to pick against the late-game heroics of Bronson Koenig after the Xavier game, but the Fighting Irish march on. 72-65
#1 Virginia v. #4 Iowa State
This game all comes down to the Iowa State offense (82.1 points per game) against Virginia’s defense (allowing 59.5 points per game). If the Cavaliers are able to slow down the pace, then Iowa State will be in trouble. On the flip side, if the Cyclones can speed up the game and turn the game into a high-scoring affair, we might have an upset on our hands. As tempted as I am to choose otherwise, it’s going to be the former over the latter. 70-67
#10 Syracuse v. #11 Gonzaga
“Michigan State will dismantle yet another opponent en route to the Final Four…” is what I would have been writing if the Spartans would have played a little defense against a FIFTEEN seed. These two teams reap the benefits and Gonzaga officially becomes this year’s Cinderella team. 77-67
Elite Eight
#1 Kansas v. #3 Miami
What a great point guard matchup this will be. The tough, scrappy Frank Mason III of Kansas against the silky smooth scorer for Miami, Angel Rodriguez. Rodriguez win the battle, but the Jayhawks win the war. 77-70
#2 Oklahoma v. #4 Duke
For a two seed, the Sooners really lucked out with their region of the bracket. If Duke allowed UNC Wilmington to score 85 points in their first round game, how much will they give up against Oklahoma? 200? In all seriousness, Buddy Hield goes for 30 and the Sooners dance on. 84-72
#1 North Carolina v. #6 Notre Dame
If someone had told North Carolina they would be facing the Fighting Irish with a chance to reach the Final Four, Roy Williams would have danced for joy. The three point shooting for Notre Dame keeps the game close, but the Tar Heels advance. 85-79
#1 Virginia v. #11 Gonzaga
Don’t look now, but the shoe fits. As Dick Vitale might say, “Cinderella is dancing, baby!” Gonzaga becomes just the fourth #11 seed to advance to the Final Four. 68-65
Final Four
#1 Kansas v. #2 Oklahoma
These two teams have consistently been two of the best this season. The Big-12 pals have squared off twice already this season and the Jayhawks have squeaked out wins of three and four points, respectively. Does Oklahoma get its revenge? Flip a coin. Seriously. This game can go either way. In the end, Kansas sneaks by for the third time this season. 75-72
#1 North Carolina v. #11 Gonzaga
Because my personal bracket was busted long ago, every fiber in my being wants to go big and pencil the Bulldogs in to the championship. At the risk of being completely wrong and to at least save some credibility if Gonzaga does not even reaching the Final Four, the Tar Heels advance to the program’s ninth finals game appearance.
#1 Kansas v. #1 North Carolina
Seven of the past nine champions have been #1 seeds and this year’s tournament will follow a similar pattern. The last time Kansas made it to the 2008 Final Four, they won the national championship. Since we’re following patterns, the Jayhawks might as well fall in line as they win the school’s fourth championship.

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