March 12, 2005
March Madness
Posted by Gordon Smith

It is basketball's best time of year again. Wisconsin is headed to the championship game of the Big 10 tournament tomorrow, and I expect them to give Illinois a better game this time than they did in the last match in Champaign. Although it's hard to imagine the Badgers making a big run in the NCAA tournament, I wouldn't be surprised to see them win a couple of games. Wisconsin's edge is Bo Ryan. The Badgers this year have won all five of their games decided by 5 points or less, and that doesn't just happen. That's good coaching.

My sentimental Cinderella is Utah State, which is in the process of dismantling Pacific as I write this. Last year Utah State was denied a spot in the tournament, but they will enter this year as the Big West tournament champion. Again, look at the coach: Stew Morrill has been extraordinary for the little school in Logan.

Once we have the brackets filled out on Monday, I will make my picks public. Just as I disclaim any responsibility for legal advice, however, I will tell you that I make a habit of picking all of the wrong upsets in the early rounds, though I have a pretty good record of picking the final four. Here is a sneak preview of my final two, no matter what the brackets look like: Illinois and Duke.

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