Monday, March 18, 2013

NCAA Tournament Picks: Show Your Cards

Ball So Hard Sports broke down all 4 regions and you know Louisville, Miami, New Mexico and Georgetown made our Final Four. Want to review? Check them out. We've covered the MidwestEastSouth and West Regions for you right here. If you're going to give everyone analysis and predictions for the tournament, you're going to have to unveil your own picks as well. So, time to show our Cards (read into that what you want) and unveil the bracket.

Before we break down the 2 semi-final match-ups and our projected national championship game, take a look at our full bracket. Its out there now, no hiding from whatever upsets and Cinderellas crash the party now! Best of luck to you with your brackets as well. Feel free to use ours as reference of what to do or not do depending on what you think:

With that out of the way, let's dive into the Final Four match-ups we project for Atlanta:

Semi-Final 1: New Mexico vs. Louisville

I wish this could have been the final. I really like New Mexico and think that it is time for a team from the Mountain West to rise up and prove this is a conference worth of the national attention it will get from the ESPN TV deal they just inked. Tony Snell and Kendall Williams are tremendous talents and have gotten it done all year for the Lobos. But, Rick Pitino brings an experienced Louisville team who was in the Final Four last season and hungry to improve on that performance. They run 9 deep in the Cardinals rotation and their starting five all contributed to the team that made it last year.

How New Mexico Wins: Simple. Snell and Williams outplay Siva, beat Louisville's pressure and hit their shots. It won't be easy, but if the Lobos can get out front and beat the press without being afraid of being blocked by Dieng every time they cut to the basket, they may be the one's playing on Monday.

How Louisville Wins: Experience and pressure. If New Mexico is in this game, they are going to be overwhelmed with what comes along with being a Final Four team, especially being as little known as they are. Louisville was here last season and everyone remembers it. More importantly, Rick Pitino has been here a few times and will make sure they stay grounded and focused. Their pressure is going to get to teams throughout the tournament and if they can frustrate the Lobos enough, they'll be looking to cut down the nets in the final game of the season.

Ball So Hard Sports Pick: Louisville. March is all about experience. We always hear about betting on coaches who have been there. Izzo, Coach K, etc. and right at the top with them all is Pitino. He'll get it done one more time with this squad.

Semi-Final 2: Georgetown vs. Miami

Miami is looking to continue their tremendous season by winning 2 games in Atlanta and bringing the NCAA title back to South Beach to pair with the NBA title and crowning Miami as the home of hoops. Georgetown looks to carry the torch of the old Big East into one last tournament and come out the victor. Miami is very strategic under Jim Larranaga and Georgetown is very deliberate under JTIII. This is going to be an interesting game to watch if it happens and whoever imposes their will over the other will get the W.

How Georgetown Wins: Control the tempo. When they wear you down and play their style, they're nearly unbeatable. Miami is prone to scoring droughts and the Hoya defense can capitalize on that. It will be interesting to see if the Princeton offense of the Hoyas can work with the Miami "scramble" defense, but if Otto hits his shots, they should give the Big East a shot at a conference match-up in the title game.

How Miami Wins: Hit shots and play defense. They are known to go cold for long spells and they can't afford that here. Shane Larkin has to be the All-American PG he is and run this offense. The defense will have had a week to work on stopping the Hoyas and should have plenty of plays from their coach designed to slow down Georgetown. This is a veteran team and while they weren't a pre-season favorite, they've performed all year and will be worthy of a title shot if they do their jobs.

Ball So Hard Sports Pick: Miami. Larranaga has been here before with a Cinderella and now he has talent. Miami played nearly flawless in the ACC during the season and the tournament and should do the same here. They were slighted for a 1 seed but a berth in the title game forgives all of that.

National Championship: Louisville vs. Miami

This could be a great guard match-up between Larkin and Siva. One for the ages. Pitino looking to add to his legend while Larranaga looks for the crowning achievement on a storied coaching career. Again, it is going to come down to who hits shots. The same way these teams got here is the same way they're going to win 6 games from now.

Ball So Hard Sports Pick: Louisville. This team is just too good to overlook. They should have won last year and fell just shy. Siva and the team hasn't forgotten what that loss felt like and have worked all year to get back here. On that Monday in Atlanta, they'll be cutting down the nets. Pitino knows what is at stake and will make the most of the opportunity, starting this week when he returns to Rupp Arena with what amounts to a home game for Louisville in the most enemy of territories. It only gets better for him from there, culminating in a national championship.

There you have it. The fun begins tomorrow with the Play-In games in Dayton and finishes April 8 in Atlanta. This is the most wide-open the tournament has been in a while, so good luck with your brackets and enjoy the games, they are sure to be epic!

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