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March Madness is officially upon us. ASU senior Jeff Pendegraph put it best when he said there is no sporting event like the Big Dance.

The favorite: North Carolina

Louisville may be the No. 1 overall seed, but it seems like everyone has North Carolina going to at least the championship game if not winning it all this year.

Ty Lawson will be out for at least the first-round game, but logic says he’ll be back by the second round — 100 percent or not. With Lawson in the lineup, the Tar Heels have the most talented starting five in the land.

This is why all of Carolina’s possible NBA draft picks came back for one more year, to make deep run into April.

The challenger: Pittsburgh

President Obama described DeJuan Blair as a “man,” but the dude is simply a beast.

Pitt will likely be able to navigate through its region, but may need to beat North Carolina in a Final Four game to get to the championship.

They’ve got the talent and the coach in Jamie Dixon, they just need to live up to their billing as a No. 1 seed.

The potential Cinderella: Purdue

The Boilermakers have underachieved all season long but have the depth and defense to make a tough title run.

The West regional might as well feature two No. 1 seeds in Connecticut and Memphis and will be tough for any team to survive.

Don’t be surprised if they finally live up to their potential and reach the Elite Eight in Glendale, though.

Upset special:

The tournament is good for a couple of huge upsets every year and I think a Pac-10 Conference team may be responsible for a couple in the opening weekend.

No. 10 seed USC is playing its best ball as of late and showed in the Pac-10 tournament just how good it can be.

There’s never been any doubting the Trojans talent — namely Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett, Taj Gibson and DeMar DeRozan — but coach Tim Floyd hasn’t been able to get his team to play consistently well all season.

A first-round defeat of Boston College and then a second-round upset of No. 2 seed Michigan State isn’t out of the question.

Final four picks:




North Carolina

National Champion:

Pitt over Memphis

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