1. Kansas over 2. Oklahoma
1. North Carolina over 2. Michigan State
1. North Carolina over 1. Kansas
We have a lot of parity... like usual: Last year's situation, with four or five teams clearly better than everybody else, was atypical. We don't have a clear best team this season... but that's normal! Statistically, the level of parity between the top and mid-level teams in the bracket is, despite what you may have heard, not really larger this season than the average college hoops season. But the average college hoops season is crazy. It's the nature of the sport.
Who is the best team?: Each of the four teams I have in my Final Four was, at one point this season, considered the best team in the nation. Until they lost the ACC title game, Virginia was the #1 team in Pomeroy. And if you want to argue that Villanova is the best team (they were #1 in Pomeroy for most of January and February) I won't disagree with that either. There are a lot of different ways you can go. That said...
Don't get weird with your title picks: Look, if you are in a 1000 person bracket contest and only the winner makes money, then by all means pick a team like Iowa or UConn and hope to hit the jackpot. But if you're trying for a solid finish in your bracket pool, you want to avoid teams that could go down early. Don't let your bracket get busted the first weekend. Teams like North Carolina and Kansas are, simply put, the most likely to still be around in a week or two.
Want a sleeper?: Look for teams that are balanced on both sides of the ball, and teams that are playing their best ball late in the season. My two favorite national title sleepers are Purdue and Arizona, and for those two reasons.
Why North Carolina?: There are several reasons why North Carolina is my title pick. First of all, they are balanced. They are very strong offensively and defensively, they have elite talent in the backcourt and front court, they tend to win turnover battles, they tend to win rebounding battles, and they never have foul trouble. North Carolina is also not a team at all reliant on jump shooting or outside shooting, which are always red flags for teams that need to win six straight games. In addition, North Carolina's bracket is relatively soft. There's hype about Kentucky as the 4 seed, but that's overdone because of the Kentucky brand. They have a soft 8/9 match-up and probably the softest 2 seed. All in all, North Carolina is the team least likely (in my opinion) to go down early and bust your bracket. And you can make a good case that the Tar Heels are the best team in the nation and would be a deserved Final Four favorite.
Anything can happen in a single elimination tournament, but I think that if you played the tourney 10,000 times, the Tar Heels would be the most common winner.