- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2007

Across town, Eric Prisbell believes strongly in bracket etiquette and not delving too deep into trends and stats and mounds of media guides to come up with answers.

I agree with half of that.

It’s out of sheer habit I dive into the historical record, but there is certainly some merit in it. Of course, I haven’t filled out a bracket for a pool in the last five years, so it’s not like anything meaningful has come of my research rather than appeasing my superiors.

Anyway, it wouldn’t be March without some picks, even if they’re not accompanied by handing over a portrait

of one dead president or another one (aside from the fact he is neither dead nor a president, though he does look like one) on some green paper with a number.

As for bracket etiquette, I was a big fan of North Carolina at the beginning of the season. Despite seeing the Tar Heels lose in person twice in February, I still think they’re the most talented team in the field. And talent has a way of trumping all sorts of other things.

So here’s the Final Four: North Carolina, Texas A&M;, UCLA and Florida. Amazingly, the only one that doesn’t give me much pause is Texas A&M;, the lowest seed of the bunch

North Carolina faces potential pitfalls against Texas and Georgetown, but it’s hard to ignore the ACC tournament title and the impressive depth. Florida has a favorable draw, but could have a curious matchup with D1SCOURSE favorite Oregon in the Elite Eight.

UCLA is a great defensive team, and its possible Sweet 16 game with Kansas has the makings of the game

of the tournament. I remain a big fan of the Jayhawks, but possible consecutive games against the two best defensive teams in the field (Southern Illinois and UCLA) could take a toll. If Kansas only has to play

one, I like its chances to win it all.

The South Region is filled with flawed teams. Ohio State plays too ugly, Virginia plays with too little frontcourt help, Memphis has played too few real teams. That leaves Texas A&M;, which can score when necessary, defends all the time and has two or three stars that include a dynamite point guard.

Sound familiar? If you saw Florida last year, it does.

Extra Elite Eight picks: Oregon, Kansas, Georgetown and Ohio State.

First round upset picks (11+ seeds advancing): Old Dominion, Winthrop and Wright State.

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