This Year’s Final Four Will Be…

It’s always difficult to predict the four teams out of 68 capable of making it deep in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament we refer to as March Madness. There’s always a bracket busting team that takes out a top competitor or even a Cinderella story making it to the Sweet 16 or even further. However, this year may be a little different and actually attending the games might just provide serious excitement for any fan. Here’s how this non-expert believes it could play out.

Small Schools Getting In

Akron and Bucknell are the most dangerous smaller schools with the ability to make it into the tournament. The reason these two top the list is due to the size advantage they bring to the game. Akron features Zeke Marshall at seven feet tall and Bucknell brings Mike Muscala standing 6’11” tall. This will help even the playing field with any of the larger schools bringing a significant size advantage.

Other small schools with a great chance of making into the tournament include Middle Tennessee State, Belmont, Boise State, Davidson, Valparaiso, Weber State and Louisiana Tech. Although it is unlikely that all these schools will make the dance you always have to be aware of the ones that do sneak into the dance. A small school with momentum would be like the Kia Sorento winning the car March Madness Contest, unlikely but you never know! Make sure you pay attention to all the little guys before filling out your bracket.

Top Teams Most Likely for an Early Departure

1. Kansas

The Jayhawks might take a top seed in the tournament, but they’re not as good as their record shows. They lost to a team with an RPI of 229 and nearly lost to another team they should’ve beaten easily. If they draw a team they don’t match up well against, Kansas could make an early exit.

2. Ohio State

Not considered a top five team, but in the top 20, the Buckeyes struggled in February. If this was any indication about how good they really are, this is another team potentially leaving the tournament early.

3. Florida

Showing their struggles on the road makes it hard to believe the Gators can go anywhere in the tournament. They’re tough to beat at home, but they won’t get a single game on their home court during the tournament. Look for Florida to fall victim to an upset early.

Final Four Predicted

Looking at all the top teams, potential Cinderella stories and those middle seeds with the ability to go deep, picking the Final Four is still difficult. However, an easy pick for one of the final four spots is the Indiana Hoosiers. This team is tough and has been ranked at the top most of the year. Another pick for the Final Four is Michigan. They’re ready to make a run and it seems they’ve already cleared their system of some of the losses.

The other two spots in the Final Four are a bit more difficult to predict. There will certainly be a middle seed, maybe a #5 or #6 involved. The team basketball of Notre Dame could support a deep tournament run, but they won’t be there in the Final Four. However, another Big East team will be out of a two or three seed in Georgetown. That only leaves one spot left and it goes to Saint Louis University.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

For second straight year, kicker costs Boise State shot at BCS

Boise State Broncos defensive tackle Chase Baker (97) sacks Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback Ross Jenkins (11) on fourth down during the first half at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/ Brian Losness (UNITED STATES)

That cigar smoke you see floating over your house is coming from BCS headquarters, where they’re lighting them up at a furious pace for the second straight season.

Boise State lost to TCU 36-35 today, and just like in last year’s shocking loss to Nevada, the Broncos missed a very makeable field goal at the end of the game. This time, it was Dan Goodale who missed a 39-yard kick as time expired to give the Horned Frogs the win in stunning fashion.

Like last year, the Boise State defense gave up a late lead, and that’s probably where a lot of the blame lies. But watching Goodale miss that kick certainly had to give Boise fans flashbacks to Kyle Brotzman’s miscue against Nevada. One big difference with this is that unlike Brotzman, Goodale hasn’t built up a ton of goodwill around campus for having been a spectacular kicker throughout his career.

The loss puts an end to any hopes the Broncos had of possibly squeezing into the national title game, and probably douses all hopes of getting into a BCS game at all.

And how’s this for schadenfreude? The game was played in Boise only because the Mountain West was trying to stick it to TCU as it was set to leave for the Big East. That worked out well, didn’t it?

Boise State is going back to a BCS bowl, deal with it

Boise State Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore (11) follows through on a pass during the second half of a NCAA football game against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Landover, Maryland, September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Depending on when you read this, Boise State is either beating on Colorado State or just beat on Colorado State. Either way, we’re that much closer to an inevitable conclusion: The Broncos aren’t going to lose this year and will play in a BCS bowl.

Here’s the schedule for Boise State, and I dare you to find a loss there. Here’s a hint: There isn’t one. TCU was supposed to be the big one, as these two teams have carried the non-automatic qualifier flag for the past few years, but the Horned Frogs are a shadow of their former selves.

Yes, anything can happen, but it won’t. Boise State is going to finish 12-0 and probably in the top three in the human polls. They won’t play for the national title because their schedule isn’t strong enough to put them ahead of any of the other unbeaten teams, or a one-loss SEC team, for that matter. And, frankly, I don’t think it should.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Boise State supporter. I think what the Broncos have done in the last decade is remarkable and the deserve to be discussed along with the top programs in the country. Staying consistent in a good conference is hard. So is staying consistent in Idaho. But it would be really hard to put them ahead of an undefeated Oklahoma or Wisconsin team at the end of the season.

They deserve a shot at the top prize, but until people wise up and we get a playoff, they won’t get it. And, frankly, in the system we have, they aren’t doing enough to get one.

TCU to join the Big East in 2012

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs leads his team on the field against the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Mountain West is having itself a rough year. After losing Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (Independent) a couple of months ago, is now reporting that TCU will also leave the MWC to join the Big East in 2012.

The conference change allows TCU to play in an automatic BCS-qualifying league beginning in the 2012-13 school year. TCU currently plays in the Mountain West Conference, which does not have an automatic bid to the BCS and is going through some changes of its own. BYU and Utah are leaving the conference just as Boise State enters.

TCU would become the Big East’s ninth football team. The conference has extended an invitation to Villanova to become its 10th football member.

This is great for TCU and the Big East, but Boise State has to be having a “WTF?” moment. The Broncos joined the Mountain West in part because they thought it would improve their strength of schedule in the eyes of BCS voters. But now that Utah, TCU and BYU are all heading out of town, they probably would have been better served staying in the WAC in terms of SOS competition.

Maybe Boise should join the Big East, too.

Auburn jumps Boise State in latest coaches poll

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the LSU Tigers with Byron Isom  at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I figured it was only a matter of time before Auburn jumped Boise State in the human polls. I just thought it would come after a win a little bigger than at Ole Miss — a team that is now 3-5 and lost at home to Jacksonville State.

But the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches poll is out, and there are the Tigers, 23 points ahead of Boise at No. 2.

I get it, Auburn has better credentials to this point in the season than Boise State does. It plays a tougher schedule, and is deserving of the No. 2 spot in the polls. (Side note: Saw Oregon for the second time live last night, and my god, the Ducks are good. I mean, I was impressed with the way they blitzed UCLA, but they made USC look slow last night. That’s crazy.)

What I don’t get is the timing. If you had Boise State No. 2 in your poll last week, what did the two teams do this week that made you change your mind? The Broncos were a little sloppy, and obviously not fully on their game on Tuesday, and still blew Louisiana Tech. To me, that’s the measure of a really good team, one that can still win handily while not at its best. Auburn, meanwhile, looked pretty slick in a 20-point win of its own against Ole Miss. Impressive, for sure, but not so impressive that you would think, “Wow, this is the performance that pushes Auburn to No. 2!”

Of course, I don’t know how important this jump really is. Boise needed Auburn and/or Oregon to lose anyway, and now that just becomes more evident. The Tigers and Ducks will still be Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings when they’re released tonight, and the Broncos will continue to have to root against other teams for their own self interest.

A couple other notes from the poll: Missouri falls to No. 14 and Michigan State to No. 15 after some tough losses Saturday. Florida State fell from No. 15 to No. 24 after its loss Thursday. Of course, in the spirit of this always sane poll, that’s one spot in front of NC State, the team it just lost to. Which has the same record.

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