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Nick's Picks: Injuries, Upsets And An NBA Career On The Line - How Kansas Is Now Poised To Win It All

First some notes, then the brackets:

* The state of Ohio is sending four teams in the Sweet 16: Ohio State (2), Cincinnati (6), Xavier (10), and Ohio (13). No state has ever done that before, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (See their Ohio trivia quiz.)

* Cincinnati and Xavier engaged in a pretty nasty bench-clearing brawl earlier this season, complete with punching, stomping and real blood. It's not gonna happen, but they are on opposite ends of the bracket and would meet in the final if they both won out.

* For the first time ever, two 15 seeds defeated two number 2 seeds in the round of 64.

* Kansas State (8) loses Jamar Samuels to another surprise suspension.

* UNC (1) point guard Kendall Marshall fractures his wrist, is questionable.

SOUTH
* VCU (12) pulled off an upset over Wichita St. (5) and was barely knocked off by Indiana (4) in the round of 32. VCU was a different team this year and didn't expect them to advance. The game against Indiana was close one and decided by two points.

* Colorado (11) upset UNLV (6) and was the only PAC 12 team remaining until they ran into Baylor (3). In its glory days, the old PAC 10 was a dominant basketball conference and featured multiple teams in the tournament every year.

* Lehigh (15) stunned Duke (2), a game that was 55 miles away from Duke's campus. Duke threw up 26 three-point shots and made only six of them; Duke fans everywhere just plain threw up as a result.

* Xavier (10) defeated Notre Dame (7) then Lehigh to earn a Sweet 16 spot.

* No surprises with Kentucky (1) so far.

Teams remaining: Kentucky (1) vs Indiana (4), 3/23 8:45 pm (CBS). Baylor (3) vs Xavier (10), 3/23 6:45 pm (CBS).

Outlook: Most are expecting Kentucky over Indiana, Baylor over Xavier, and Kentucky to advance to the Final Four. Keep in mind that Indiana beat Kentucky this season, but I don't see it happening twice. If you've got money to burn, check the Vegas lines should a Kentucky-Baylor match-up happen and bet on Baylor. Taking the over wouldn't be a bad idea either.

WEST
* Michigan St. (1) vs Louisville (4) in the Sweet 16 as expected. Marquette (3) vs, Florida (7) as well. It's no surprise that Marquette made it this far, but just about everyone had Missouri (2) to be here instead of Florida.

* St. Louis (9) played it pretty close against Michigan St. and lost by just four. That game featured two of the better coaches out there, Rick Majerus for St. Louis and Tom Izzo for MSU.

* Missouri fans streamed confetti at Mizzou Arena when it was announced they were a 2 seed. Missouri fans streamed tears when they lost in the round of 64 to Norfolk St. (15). to make matters worse, Florida would go on to crush Norfolk St. by 34 points.

Teams remaining: Michigan St (1) vs Louisville (4), 3/22 6:47 pm (TBS). Marquette (3) vs Florida (7), 3/22 9:17 pm (TBS).

Outlook: Draymond Green for MSU already has two career NCAA tournament triple-doubles and he should help lead them to the Final Four after blowing past Louisville and Marquette.

EAST
* Syracuse, without Fab Melo, barely got by NC-Asheville (16) - with the help of two very controversial calls at the end of the game.

* The morning of their game against Syracuse, Kansas State suspended key forward Jamar Samuels for then-unknown reasons. This resulted in a match-up of teams that each had a suspended player.

* Vanderbilt (5) lost a close one to Wisconsin (4) in the round of 32. John Jenkins missed a three-point attempt that would have put Vandy up by one in the closing seconds.

* Florida St (3) lost to Cincinnati (6) in the round of 32. Michael Snaer virtually disappeared during tournament. He went 4 of 18 from the field in both games. I had FSU and Vanderbilt facing off in my bracket with FSU making the Final Four here.

Teams remaining: Syracuse (1) vs Wisconsin (4), 3/22 6:15 pm (CBS). Ohio St. (2) vs Cincinnati (6) 3/22 8:45 pm (CBS).

Outlook: I'm taking Wisconsin over Syracuse and Ohio St. over Cincinnati in the Elite Eight, leading to a Big 10 match-up for a Final Four spot; Jared Sullinger and Ohio St. prevail.

MIDWEST
* North Carolina (1) has no problems, statistically, getting to the Sweet 16, but Marshall's fractured wrist is a concern. UNC has battled injuries all season long and it may finally catch up with them.

* Another 12/5 upset was USF over Temple, setting up a rare 12 vs. 13 match-up in the round of 32 after Ohio (13) defeated Michigan (4). UNC and Ohio will play for an Elite Eight spot.

* NC State (11) upset Georgetown (3) in the round of 32 and will face Kansas (2) for a shot at the Elite Eight.

* The way Kansas played against Purdue (10), they are lucky to still be around. Purdue led for all but approximately 43 seconds of the entire 40 minutes, but made some costly mistakes at the end.

Teams remaining: UNC (1) vs Ohio (13), 3/23 6:47 pm (TBS). Kansas (2) vs NC State (11), 3/23 9:17 pm (TBS).

Outlook: Even if Marshall doesn't play, UNC shouldn't have problems with Ohio. KU matches up much better against NC State than Purdue and should win here. If Marshall is close to 90% against KU, UNC likely wins. If he's out, KU likely wins. I'll choose KU in the Final Four here because I think Marshall has an NBA career and millions of dollars to worry about next year and sits the rest of the tournament.

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See also: Nick's Picks: Prepare For An NCAA Championship That Will Be Vacated.

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Comments welcome.

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