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Last updated: 03/19/2013 1:15 AM
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Men's Basketball
Buckeyes a Popular Pick for Some Experts
By Tony Gerdeman

Watching a bit of ESPN's coverage following the unveiling of the brackets Sunday night, I was fortunate enough to be tuned in when their experts were going over their Final Four picks.

It's always interesting to see if patterns emerge, or favorites come forth, and last night was no different.

The most popular team during ESPN's coverage wasn't the overall #1-seed Louisville Cardinals, it was the #2-seed in the West, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Giving their Final Four picks, four of the five studio analysts for The Worldwide Leader had Ohio State in the Final Four of their brackets.

Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps each went with the Buckeyes to emerge out of the West bracket. Phelps even went so far as to have Ohio State losing in the Finals to Miami.

Former Duke point guard Jay Williams did them all one better, however. He went and picked the Buckeyes to win it all over Kansas, even though the Jayhawks came into Columbus back in December and left town with an eight-point win over the Buckeyes.

The lone outlier on ESPN's panel was former Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Seth Greenberg, who picked all four of the #1 seeds to make it to the Final Four in Atlanta.

Overall, the show probably put a few Ohio State fans in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with something an ESPN employee said about their Buckeyes. They turned the program on, intent on yelling at their televisions, and all they could do was nod in agreement.

It was probably like when you start to get into an argument with your wife and before you can even get into what it was that has infuriated you this time, she admits her error and apologizes.

(What's that? That has never happened to you? Of course it hasn't. It has never happened to anybody.)

Apparently ESPN took all of the love available for the Buckeyes and left none for CBS. The CBS studio show featuring Doug Gottlieb, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis all found teams that they liked in the West better than Ohio State.

Davis and Gottlieb ended up choosing the #3-seed New Mexico Lobos, and Anthony went with #1-seed Gonzaga. In fact, Gottlieb was the only one of the three who had a Big Ten team in his Final Four (Indiana). Each of ESPN's experts had at least two, and Vitale actually had three (OSU, Michigan, Indiana).

In fairness to the CBS crew, they are known for their tendency for off-the-wall picks. Seth Davis likes to show how smart he is with his upset picks. Doug Gottlieb, meanwhile, doesn't need to show anybody how smart he is, it's just that he's so damn smart that he can't help it. Greg Anthony simply tolerates everything as best he can.

But is it really that outrageous to pick somebody other than Ohio State to emerge from the West?

You watched them play this season, right?

How many times before this eight-game winning streak did you say to yourself, "You know what, this looks like a Final Four team to me."

There were two entities within the CBS Sports realm who did have the Buckeyes in the Final Four, however. The first is Jerry Palm, who runs the CBS version of Bracketology. He wasn't swayed by the cactusy siren song of New Mexico, nor the Bulldog howl of Gonzaga. This is a guy who is paid to study these things, so that has to count for something.

Then there is the Final Four bracket to end all Final Four brackets.

Not only does columnist Gregg Doyel have the Buckeyes in his Final Four, but he has them facing the Michigan Wolverines in the Finals.

"I'm going guard-heavy in this year's bracket, giving the nod most of the time to the superior point guard, which is how I've got Trey Burke (Michigan) facing Aaron Craft (Ohio State) in the national title game. And who wins The Game? The best damn point guard in America, Aaron Craft. And the rest of the Buckeyes."

For Buckeye fans, this is probably the only way they would be okay with Michigan finally being able to hang another Final Four banner.

Though this does pose an interesting question. Of all of the experts mentioned here, would you rather Jay Williams' pick of Ohio State over Kansas come true, or Doyel's delight with the Buckeyes over the Wolverines?

Basically, do you want to see Michigan painfully lose to the Buckeyes in the Finals? Or would you rather they just go quietly into the night, or at least as quietly as their neon yellow jerseys can go into the night, that is.

Personally, if Ohio State does make it to the Final Four, as many experts believe they will, then Buckeye fans should just go ahead and cash in their chips and call it a night.

But that doesn't mean they shouldn't keep their rooms for another couple of days to see how things go.

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