PREDICTIONS

The Free Press’ college basketball writers reveal how they see the Road to Minneapolis. Last year, they didn’t see the Road to Indianapolis too clearly. No one predicted Duke would win the national championship.

Mitch Albom
* MICHIGAN: The Wolverines lose in their regional final.
* MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans lose in their regional semifinal.
* FINAL FOUR: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio State. National champion? It’s Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Perry A. Farrell
* MICHIGAN: The Wolverines win a close one with Temple but lose in the second round to Arizona. Tough region.
* MICHIGAN STATE: Guess what? The Spartans get Kansas at Kemper Arena again in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Unfair? Yes. Better bring your own clock, Jud. The Spartans win this time, but lose in the regional final to Arkansas.
* FINAL FOUR: Duke, Indiana, Arkansas, Arizona. National champion? Duke. I just don’t see anybody beating Duke’s depth and superior poise. Mick McCabe
* MICHIGAN: The Wolverines run over Temple, upset Arizona — thinking they’re playing Bill Frieder’s Arizona State team — nip Oklahoma State before losing to Ohio State . . . unless Jimmy Jackson turns pro first.
* MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans struggle with Southwest Missouri State, rip Cincinnati and lose to Kansas . . . unless Jud Heathcote accepts the Nevada-Las Vegas job first.
* FINAL FOUR: Kentucky beats Duke to win the East; Louisville shocks UCLA and then beats Indiana to win the West; Kansas has no problem in the Midwest; and Ohio State wins the Southeast. In the semifinals, Kansas nips Ohio State and Louisville upends Kentucky. In the final, Kansas wins by 13. Jack Saylor
* MICHIGAN: The Wolverines lose to Arizona in the second round.
* MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans lose to Cincinnati in the second round.
* FINAL FOUR: Duke, Indiana, Arkansas and Arizona. The Dukies need only hurdle Seton Hall in their bracket and have too many weapons and too much tournament savvy for anybody else who gets to Minny. The Devils repeat. Greg Stoda
* MICHIGAN: The Wolverines remain too inconsistent to do much damage. Temple could be a huge problem in the first round, but the Wolverines will survive before Arizona pushes them out in the second round.
* MICHIGAN STATE: Sorry, but the Spartans don’t have the look of contenders. They also don’t have a superstar (now they’ll miss Steve Smith), and superstars are particularly important at tournament time. One victory — although Southwest Missouri State is no pushover — and out with a second-round loss to Cincinnati.
* FINAL FOUR: Is there a team that can beat Duke? Certainly. Several of them, in fact. Indiana will do it in a national semifinal game, but then lose to Kansas in the championship match. Oh, yeah, the fill-out-the-weekend team . .
. let’s say Arizona. Charlie Vincent
* MICHIGAN: One victory and out for the young Wolverines. Their talent should get them past Temple, but Arizona has too much experience and will oust them Sunday.
* MICHIGAN STATE: The luck of the draw — and Matt Steigenga’s healing foot
— should get the Spartans through the first weekend. Those two victories should make this a successful season, but the Spartans will meet their match against Kansas in the third round.
* FINAL FOUR: Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and LSU will be the Final Four, but this time the ACC gets shut out and Kansas wins it all.

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