Because everyone loves picking brackets and I'm a more-the-merrier kind of guy in this realm, I asked our DMV college hoops pollsters, all around town and the CSN newsroom for Final Four and national champion predictions with rationale as to why people picked what they picked. Pens are down, sheets have been turned in. Here...we...go...
The CSN crew
*Ben Standig, NCAA Insider: Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Miami...Louisville over Miami
- I've got Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Miami with the Pitino's beating the Larranaga's in the the title game. My detailed bracket breakdown is here. My 17 previous versions are crumpled in trash cans all over town.
*J.Michael, Wizards Insider: Louisville, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Miami...Miami over Louisville 74-70
- The Cards are better top to bottom but I like to ride the hot hand going into the tournament. Shane Larkin > Peyton Siva
*Brian Jackson, Wizards producer: Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Miami, Georgetown...Ohio State over Miami
- Tournament time is all about guard play and Aaron Craft and Shane Larkin are two of the best in the business.
*Kellie Cowan, Caps producer: Michigan State, New Mexico, Florida, Miami...Miami over Sparty 76-72:
- They don't appear in late March often, and when they do they don't stick around long. But. This year's Hurricanes have enough force to blow right through the tourney, just as they tore through the ACC tournament.
*Rich Dubroff, Orioles Insider: Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, Miami...Miami over Louisville
- Miami's experience will highlight a most erratic college basketball season.
*Chuck Gormley, Caps Insider: Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgetown, Indiana... Georgetown over Michigan State
- Hey, somebody has to pick the hometown Hoyas. Might as well be me.
*Chase Hughes, Nats producer: Final Four: Michigan St., Gonzaga, Kansas, Miami...Miami over Gonzaga
- I like Jim Larranaga from his George Mason days, so I guess Miami will win it all?
*Christy Winters-Scott, Wizards/college analyst: Louisville, Gonzaga,Georgetown, Miami...Miami over Gonzaga
*Miami wins because Coach L has his entire team believing that it can be done. Reminds me of Jim Valvano in that regard!
*JP Finlay, Maryland correspondent: Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Indiana...Louisville beats Indiana in the finals.
- How anyone could watch the final 20 minutes of the Big East tournament and not take Louisville is beyond me. They're a freight train.
*Mike Wargo, my boss: Louisville, Ohio State, Florida, Indiana...Indiana over OSU 67-62
- In Nate Silver I trust. He picks that same Final Four except he has Gonzaga favored over OSU. But I can't see Gonzaga beating a Big Ten team. As for Indiana, I see them as the only team not forced to beat a #1 seed all tournament. I think they have the easiest path to the title.
*Jeff Jones, American: Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas and Miami to reach the Final Four and predicting Kansas will win it all.
- We played Kansas and they looked pretty darn good up close and personal!
The national media
*Rob Dauster, College BasketballTalk - Michigan State, Gonzaga, Florida, Indiana...Indiana over Gonzaga for the title.
- I think Louisville gets picked off by St. Louis in the Sweet 16, opening the door for Tom izzo and Sparty. I like the draw that both Indiana and Gonzaga got, while I think Florida is able to play their way through both Georgetown and Kansas. The South region, believe it or not, is where I am the most concerned with my picks.
*Nicole Auerbach, USA Today - Louisville, Gonzaga, VCU and Indiana...Louisville over Indiana in Kentucky's nightmare of a championship game
- There's as good a chance of three No. 1 seeds making the Final Four as there is four double-digit seeds this season, but I went with them anyway -- plus VCU, my sleeper pick (Havoc is too hard to prepare for in short time frames). I'm a believer in the Zags, and I think they'll get to the Final Four for the first time in program history with the deepest and most balanced team Mark Few has had.
*Troy Machir, College Basketball Talk.com: Louisville, New Mexico, Florida, Indiana...Indiana over Louisville
Did you watch college hoops this season? I did, and I have absolutely no clue what the Final Four is going to look like. Indiana and Louisville are my two safest picks, but after that, anything can happen.
The local media
* Holden Kushner, 106.7 The Fan: Kansas, Indiana, Louisville & Gonzaga. In a year of upsets, the ultimate upset goes down and all four #1 seeds make it to the FF...Kansas 76 LOU 73
- Because I'm a Jayhawk!
*Scott Jackson, ESPN 980: Louisville, Ohio State, Georgetown, Miami ...Louisville beats Hurricanes 82-77.
- Add insult to injury for Kentucky fans. The experienced back court and size a great combo for Rick Pitino to win second NCAA title.
*Brendan Darr, 106.7 The Fan: Louisville, Gonzaga, Florida and Miami... Miami over Louisville
- I've been skeptical all year about Miami, but after seeing the way they went through the ACC this year they could be the best team 1 through 5 in the country. I generally expect more upsets than most, but not sure I see as many this year -- I'll still be pulling for the Jackrabbits even if I picked against them.
The team bloggers
*Ryan Kish, GMUHoops.com: Louisville, Ohio St, VCU, Miami...Miami over Ohio St
- Jim Larranaga knows how to win with older players and stout defense.
*Andrew Geiger, CasualHoya.com: Louisville, Ohio State, Georgetown, Indiana...GEORGETOWN over Louisville (Final score 100-2)
- My rationale is that I have no rationale. I am casually delusional.