Picks for Sweet 16, Elite Eight

When man and machine combine, you get an accurate Final Four

Updated: March 21, 2012, 12:15 PM ET
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Elijah Johnson and Thomas RobinsonJamie Squire/Getty ImagesUNC's injury concerns have us picking Johnson, Robinson and KU to make the Final Four.

You want the short story? Fine. Working with the computer into the Sweet 16, our Final Four is still safely intact. But there were misses and cases where a little more faith could have been used. For instance, we rode Florida into the Sweet 16, but perhaps should have been swayed by the extremely high upset odds the Predictor offered on Lehigh (near 20 percent, which is wacky for a 15-2 matchup, when 15 seeds win at less than 3 percent historically). And we actually had South Florida (12), facing Ohio (13), but the Bulls let us down in that matchup.

Our goal was to ride some upsets, but were you really ready to follow us on Norfolk State and Lehigh? Who has the faith problem, people? See, it's on you, too. Anyway, let's cut to the bracket. See the models we're using to the right.

(And for those who might have more than a bracket in mind, we checked in with R.J. Bell of Pregame.com for the latest line moves, as well.)

Sweet 16

No. 1 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers
Edge: Syracuse by 4.5
Last week, we wrote: "[Syracuse] has become the weakest No. 1 seed … UNC-Asheville could win 11 percent of matchups in the Similar Games model, a pretty scary number for a No. 1 that early." Turns out it was pretty scary for the Fab Melo-less Orange.

One thing we find interesting in this matchup is what Bo Ryan will ask his kids to do. Typically, Ryan teams pass on crashing the offensive glass to get back and get their defense set, which is why watching Badgers games can be like watching teams run motion in quicksand. So, will he ask the Badgers to hit the offensive glass and exploit Syracuse's biggest weakness? Not enough, in our opinion. We see this playing out like Sunday's Rick Majerus-Tom Izzo chess match, where superior talent gets bogged down in a half-court game but wins by a nose. Syracuse goes through; again, barely.


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