It's been a long road. Sweaty palms, favoritism, and excessive caffeine, offset by some very real basketball savvy, have brought us this far. (See my Round One NCAA Bracket Picks, Round Two NCAA Predictions, and Elite Eight Bracket Predictions.)
Now it's time to make maybe the hardest NCAA bracket picks of all. Who makes the Final Four? And who will be watching the Detroit games from a hotel room?
Glad you asked. Here's what happens.
In the Midwest, #3 Kansas shocks Rick Pitino, Terrance "Al Pacino" Williams, and the nation, by punching the #1 Cardinal in the mouth early and defending their margin of victory in the second half.
In the West, #1 UConn defeats #3 Missouri as the tough, defensively minded Tigers are decisively outclassed by Thabeet.
In the East, #7 Texas' massive Dexter Pitman goes toe-to-toe with DeJuan Blair and neutralizes him, and #1 Pitt has an attack of the paralyzing inconsistency that has plagued them this season.
In the South, #9 Butler upsets #2 Oklahoma, and super-talented Gordon Hayward emerges as a tournament darling.
Here's how the Final Four goes down in Detroit.
#9 Butler faces off against #7 Texas, and at this point it surprises no one when the lower seeded team pulls the upset.Final pick.
#1 UConn gets the better of #3 Kansas, but only barely. Thabeet blocks a shot as the clock expires to seal the win.
In the 2009 National NCAA Championship, it's #1 UConn over #9 Butler, as the deeper, more balanced UConn outlasts the upstart.
So there you have it. We've predicted every round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. We made some daring upset picks, gave the favorites their due respect, and ultimately awarded the title to a team with a dominant player (Hasheem Thabeet) and a stellar supporting cast.
Good luck with your brackets!