SLAM March Madness Picks

by March 20, 2013
#cody zeller indiana

Tournament time! By now you’ve probably already filled out a bracket—if not, go download one here and do so—and, as you’d imagine, so have all of your trusty SLAM editors and writers. Check out our picks, along with the reasoning behind those predictions, below, then hit the comment section to tell us how great (OK, fine: or how terrible) our prophecies are.

Ben Osborne, Editor-in-Chief
Final Four: Indiana, Florida, Michigan State, Gonzaga
Finals: Indiana-Gonzaga
Champs: Indiana
Why? In a season in which I’ve watched a woefully small amount of college hoops, I’ve been on IU ever since I did actually watch them demolish North Carolina at the end of November. I know the Tar Heels are very flawed, but that game showed what makes the Hoosiers so tough no matter who they play: size, speed, skill and hustle. Plus Cody Zeller. I’m putting the other three teams in the Final Four because that’s who I picked in print when I submitted for SLAM 167 and it seems like a sign that they were placed in different brackets, making it possible.

Tzvi Twersky, Senior Editor
Final Four: Indiana, Michigan, Louisville, Ohio State
Finals: Indiana-Louisville
Champs: Indiana
Why? An awesome, unpredictable tournament will culminate in an awesome, unpredictable game. In the end, though, Ferrell, Oladipo and Zeller will get the best of Siva, Smith and Dieng.

Lang Whitaker, Editor-at-Large
Final Four
: Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame
Finals: UGA-Alabama
Champs: UGA
Why? Aaron Murray deserves another opportunity in the Georgia Dome. And this time, we’ll get it right. (Oh wait, this is about college basketball? I don’t watch college basketball.)

Ryne Nelson, Online Editor
Final Four: Indiana, Kansas, Duke, Gonzaga
Finals: Indiana-Duke
Champs: Indiana
Why? The hype has been sky-high for the Hoosiers all season, and Tom Crean’s team has lived up to all. A semi-final loss in the Big Ten tourney gave the team a chance to rest up and focus. There’s no better duo in the country than Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. And with the most efficient shooters in the nation, the Hoosiers can really spread the floor and allow those two to work. Their defense is tops too, as they led the Big Ten in rebound percentage. This team tasted glory last season by advancing to the Sweet 16; 2013 is their year to claim it all for themselves.

Adam Figman, Associate Editor
Final Four: Indiana, Georgetown, Louisville, New Mexico
Finals: Indiana-Louisville
Champs: Louisville
Why? Because Russ Smith is going to catch fire and drop 40 in the National Championship game and then thank the Based God for blessing him with the ever-positive outlook needed to accomplish such an incredible feat. Book it. #based

Franklyn Calle, Assistant Editor
Final Four:
Louisville, Michigan, Miami, New Mexico
Finals: Louisville-Miami
Champs: Louisville
Why? Louisville’s defense is as suffocating as it gets. I mean, they only had 58 deflections in a single game during the Big East Tourney and forced teams to 20+ turnovers regularly. Coach Pitino always knows how to get his players ready for the Tourney. Additionally, the combo of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva in the backcourt is as tough and quick as it gets. Not sure there are many backcourts out there that will be able to keep up with them. Plus, Russ is from Brooklyn. Can’t root against that.

Eldon Khorshidi, Editorial Assistant
Final Four: Miami, Duke, Michigan, New Mexico
Finals: Miami-Duke
Champs: Miami
Why? The Hurricanes are a deep, talented and experienced bunch who—although they’re usually favorites—play with a huge chip on their shoulder and a sense of conviction. I think they have a favorable draw, and between the brilliance of Jim Larranaga, the leadership of Shane Larkin, the New York-ness of Durand Scott and the toughness of Reggie Johnson/Kenny Kadji, I believe Miami will cut down the nets in Atlanta.

Abe Schwadron, Editorial Assistant
Final Four: Miami, Georgetown. Louisville, Ohio State
Finals: Miami-Louisville
Champs: Miami
Why? Miami has a coach who’s been to the Final Four with a fraction of the talent, a point guard who’s playing as well as any in the country, and a confidence only matched on the opposite side of the bracket by the Cardinals. But in the title game, I like The U to win an uptempo battle by pushing the pace and letting the Louisville backcourt self-destruct under the lights.

Peter Walsh, Editorial Assistant
Final Four: Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, New Mexico
Finals: Kansas-Louisville
Champs: Louisville
Why? The No. 1 overall seed got a tough draw with Oklahoma St., Saint Louis, Michigan St. and Duke ready to make noise. But this is an experienced, battle-tested team led by the backcourt duo of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith who won’t be rattled by their opponent or the bright lights. Kansas will be a tough foe with the awesome inside-out duo of center Jeff Withey and guard Ben McLemore but the Cardinals are hot, having won 10 in a row, and will ride that momentum to Louisville’s third National Championship.

Yaron Weitzman, Editorial Assistant
Final Four: Indiana, Georgetown, Duke, Ohio State
Finals: Indiana-Duke
Champs: Indiana
Why? One thing I’ve learned this year is to never pick against any member of the Harbaugh family. Tom Crean is married to Joani Harbaugh, Jim and John’s sister, which makes him part of that family, which means he’s not losing. Also, Indiana has been the closest thing that we’ve had to a consistent top team this year, which of course means they’re probably going to lose in the first round. But I’m still going with Zeller and Oladipo.

Cub Buenning, Contributor
Final Four: Indiana, Kansas, Duke, New Mexico
Finals: Indiana-Duke
Champs: Indiana
Why? The Hoosiers are the most talented team in the nation and have one of the best combinations of interior and back-court play. Cody Zeller is a “nimble beast” inside and Victor Oladipo is the most dynamic wing in the nation. Throw in the loaded supporting cast and you have a group destined for a long run. I also like Indiana’s draw in the East region with a pretty straight-forward path to the Regional Final in DC.

David Cassilo, Contributor
Final Four
: Indiana, Florida, Duke, Gonzaga
Finals: Indiana-Duke
Champs: Indiana
Why? The deepest and most balanced team in the NCAA tournament, Indiana can beat you in a variety of ways. They can throw it down low to Cody Zeller or shoot it from deep, where they have made 41.1 percent of their shots this season. The Hoosiers are a safe pick too, as they are in the weakest regional and should have little trouble making it to the Final Four.

Nick Rotunno, Contributor
Final Four: Indiana, Michigan, Duke, Gonzaga
Finals: Indiana-Gonzaga
Champs: Gonzaga
Why? Maybe it’s a long shot, but the Zags are a complete team from top to bottom—great guard play, a star forward in Kelly Olynyk, an experienced inside-out threat in Elias Harris and a deep bench. Not to mention the best “glue guy” in the country, Mike Hart, who chases down loose balls like a Labrador Retriever. Gonzaga can match up with a team like Indiana, no doubt. The only real knock on the Bulldogs is the old “they play in a crappy conference” argument. So what? Gonzaga won the WCC easily after playing a grind of a non-conference schedule. It’s time for Mark Few to cut down the nets.