Get out your dancing shoes ... unless they are blue

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In my opinion

By Brian Blair

If you want to win your NCAA Tournament pool this year, please do yourself a huge favor. Close the paper, fold it up and put it back on the coffee table. If you want to lose and be embarrassed in the process then by all means continue reading.
Let me begin by reminding Kentucky fans that yes the tournament will still be played despite the absence of the Wildcats. They did not deserve to be in the field which leads me to my first guarantee of the tournament. There will be a new national champion when the tournament wraps up in Atlanta on April 8.  
Could that team be from Kentucky?
Louisville was given the overall No. 1 seed. While it pains me to say this, they earned it.
The Cardinals have a very good shot at returning to the Final Four. Their biggest hurdle might be Duke but I would not count out Michigan State getting to the Elite Eight.
In the Midwest Region, the one upset I could see would be Oregon over Oklahoma State. The other might be New Mexico State over St. Louis. It is always hard for teams from the middle of the country to go west and win their first game.
In the West Region, I like Ohio State to reach the Final Four. Gonzaga is a trendy pick but I like the toughness of the Buckeyes who have played in a better conference than the Bulldogs. A popular upset pick could be Belmont over Arizona. The Wildcats have lost early in the past and the Bruins are a tough, senior laden club who will not be intimidated by the moment.
In the East, I like Miami to squeak past Indiana and make it to Atlanta. The Hurricanes have something to prove and they are coached by the same man who took George Mason to a Final Four. They believe they should have been the No. 1 seed after winning the ACC regular season title and conference tournament. The Hoosiers have been ranked #1 three different times each time failing to keep the top ranking. If you are looking for an upset try Bucknell over Butler. It may seem crazy but the Bison are also an experienced team who missed out on the tournament last season and would love nothing more than to become the new darlings of the tournament  by taking out the old darlings.
Finally in the South, I like Florida just barely over Georgetown. I would not count out Michigan even though they did struggle somewhat down the stretch. My upset in this region comes in the second round with North Carolina taking out Kansas. I think the Jayhawks will be the first #1 seed to exit the dance.
Once the four get to Atlanta, I think Miami takes out Florida in the battle of the Sunshine State. In the other semifinal I will take Louisville knocking out Ohio State. In the national championship game, I like Rick Pitino capturing another title.
Sorry, UK fans but you can’t win every year. Better luck in the NIT.  

Brian Blair is the sports reporter for the News-Herald.