- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Every year when the NCAA tournament bracket comes out, there’s a team, maybe a couple that stand out as the ones to beat.

Last year, to a certain extent, it was Duke. Kansas, with those five future pros, was the bracket behemoth in 2008 and Florida was the no-brainer the year before.

This year, there doesn’t seem to be that one team that’ll be at the top of everyone’s bracket. It’s probably closer to a dozen. Heck, there are five or six teams just in the Big East that could be considered legitimate title contenders.

Certainly, going with one of the top four seeds is a pretty safe route, but each one in this year’s field of 68 has enough flaws that it’s going to be difficult to feel certain about the final pick at the middle of the bracket.

To help out, here’s a rundown of the favorites, with opening odds to win the title from the folks at Glantz-Culver:



Odds to win championship: 3-1.

Why they’ll win: The Buckeyes are as deep and talented as any team in the country and have a national player of the year candidate in Jared Sullinger. The freshman didn’t play like one this season, allowing Ohio State not miss a beat after losing last year’s player of the year, Evan Turner. The Buckeyes also have sharpshooter Jon Diebler, who led the nation in 3-point shooting at 50 percent.

Why they won’t: The Buckeyes aren’t invincible, as losses to Wisconsin and Purdue in a span of eight days showed. Ohio State blew a 15-point lead against the Badgers and allowed the Boilermakers to shoot 51 percent, so they can break into lapses of concentration. They’re also in a tough East Regional that includes North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky.



Odds to win championship: 9-2.

Why they’ll win: If Ohio State is the No. 1 team for talent and depth, the Jayhawks are 1A. Led by twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, Kansas looks like a younger version of the team that won the 2008 title. The Jayhawks have plenty of players who can get out on the break, excellent spot-up shooters and are tough to match up inside with the Morrises and Thomas Robinson.

Why they won’t: Kansas, like Ohio State had a couple of letdowns during the conference season. The Jayhawks allowed Texas to score 51 points in a dominating second half to see their nation’s-best 69-game home winning streak end and were run over on the road to Kansas State, which had been struggling to that point. Kansas also was at the wrong end of the biggest upset in last year’s tournament, losing to Northern Iowa.

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