NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: Stewart Mandel Has Shocking Pick in East Region
Mandel believes a four seed wins the East region in Newark.
We finally found someone that has a unique pick nobody else has. SI columnist Stewart Madel has gone out on the limb and picked the No. 4 seeded Kentucky Wildcats to make the Final Four.
Here's his thought process:
"In any other region, Ohio State would be my Final Four pick, but the Buckeyes will have the misfortune of running into a No. 4 seed that happens to be more talented, albeit young. The Wildcats' Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are both possible lottery picks this spring, and Doron Lamb could be a first-rounder next year. It took most of the season for Calipari's team to gel, but now they're playing like a team poised for a Carmelo Anthony/Gerry McNamara-like run to Houston."
Those are some lofty comparisons for the young Wildcats.
Sure they have a ton of talent, but they are all freshman and sophomores. Last year's squad had a much better season in route to a No. 1 seed. They had the hands down best player in John Wall and another top five pick in DeMarcus Cousins.
That team failed to reach the Final Four.
So why would a team with less talent and similar experience go further?
I'm not buying the Wildcats for anything more than a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Mandel has Washington as his sleeper team in the region:
"After winning the Pac-10 Tournament on star Isaiah Thomas' buzzer-beating jump shot, the Huskies are a dangerous No. 7 seed. Washington has been inconsistent, losing to the likes of Oregon and Stanford, yet it ranks 15th nationally in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, just one spot behind the region's No. 2 seed (North Carolina), four behind its No. 3 seed (Syracuse). When the Huskies get their transition offense going they're tough to stop."
Can't say I disagree. Isaiah Thomas is an absolute stud and will be a NBA star someday. For now, watch him direct a fast paced offense that is more than capable of upsetting North Carolina in the second round.
Don't forget they shocked many experts by making the Sweet Sixteen a year ago.
West Virginia is coming off a Final Four appearance as they enter the tournament with a No. 5 seed and title of Mandel's . Mandel has little faith in the Mountaineers because of their lack of scoring options. A Bob Huggins team will always play rugged defense, but the lack of offense makes them an easy out. Luckily for them, they get the play-in winner of the UAB and Clemson game.
Expect WVU to win one game...but nothing more.
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