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Tudor: Indiana will beat Duke for NCAA title

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Not since Michigan State in 2000 has the Big Ten Conference produced an NCAA basketball champion. Before that one, you have to go all the way back to Michigan in 1989.

But if the Big Ten can't find its way to the trophy presentation this year, maybe it's time for league commissioner and former UNC guard Jim Delany to call in the dogs and limit its winter sporting interests to ice fishing.

With Indiana seeded first in the East Regional, Ohio State No. 2 in the West, Michigan State No. 3 in the Midwest, Michigan No. 4 in the South, Wisconsin No. 5 in the West, Illinois No. 7 in the East and Minnesota No. 11 in the South, the Big Ten Network probably could find grounds to sue CBS and its television partners for market infringement.

Since it's going to be difficult for the Big Ten to miss, I'm picking Indiana to win it all and do it by beating Duke.

Printable NCAA bracket

The more popular Big Ten pick with many no doubt is Michigan State with Tom Izzo in the control room.

Indiana coach Tom Crean has reached a Final Four -- at Marquette in 2003 -- but hasn't won a title. Then there's a baffling 12-game losing streak to a conference foe (Wisconsin) and occasionally unpredictable point guard Kevin Ferrell.

But the Hoosiers have nine reliable, healthy players and the nation's best offensive low-post player in Cody Zeller.

• • •

While adoring the Big Ten, the tournament Selection Committee obviously sized up the ACC as a hoops toxic dump.

Neither Miami (No. 2 East) nor Duke (No. 2 Midwest) could land a top seed.

N.C. State (East) and Carolina (South) were handed No. 8 seeds, otherwise known as the ejection chair because the opening game is against a No. 9 seed with a second-round assignment against the regional No. 1 (a top seed has never lost its first game).

The Tar Heels (24-10) were particularly penalized by getting Villanova (1985 champ) in the first round at Kansas City, followed by No. 1 Kansas in what would be a virtual Jayhawk home-court game should UNC survive the Wildcats (20-13) on Friday at 7:40 p.m.

If there is one thing the Selection Committee really enjoys, it's putting UNC and Kansas in the same regional and plotting a collision course as early as possible. It's the 1957/Wilt Chamberlain/Lennie Rosenbluth/Dean Smith/Roy Williams thing.

They met last season in St. Louis, where Kansas eliminated the Tar Heels.

State (24-10) will open against Temple (23-9) in the East (1:40 p.m. Friday, Dayton, Ohio) and have to deal with Indiana on Sunday should the Wolfpack advance.

Duke opens against No. 15 Albany (12:15 p.m., Friday, Philadelphia) and should win to face either No. 7 Creighton or No. 10 Cincinnati on Sunday.

The Blue Devils are coming off a disappointing ACC Tournament performance and got stuck in the hardest regional -- Louisville, Michigan State, Memphis, way underrated Oregon and physical Cincinnati.

But Duke also has the game's best coach in Mike Krzyzewski and should go in with as much incentive to advance as any team in the field. The Blue Devils should be ready to make a long run again.

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