I ended up going 12-4 again with my picks yesterday, which makes me 24-9 for the entire tournament. FRIDAY'S ACTION
-Long Beach State was blown out by Tennessee. The pace of the game wasnt that surprising. Tennessee ended up with over 120 points, but seeing as how that was a game between two teams who love to push the pace, both teams could have scored over 100.
-Texas A&M Corpus Christi, who didnt even have basketball eight years ago, jumped out all over Wisconsin and led for most of the game. It wasnt until late in the second half that the Badgers finally got control and ended up putting them away. Still, a great showing in a losing effort for a team that has quite possibly made more progess over the last eight years than any other team in div1. They went from not existing, to nearly pulling off a first round upset in the NCAA Tournament.
-Miami, OH nearly pulled one off as well. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Oregon, and then the Ducks scored the next 20 points. Miami fought their way back into it and stayed close the entire way. The game wasnt decided until the final minute, but Oregon held on to win 58-56. They will face Winthrop
-Winthrop began the game cold, but then got red hot and actually built up a 54-34 lead against Notre Dame early in the second half. The Irish actually came back and got the lead, but Winthrop finally got control of themselves and ended up winning by 10. Its my opinion that Winthrop was underseeded. Their resume may not have indicated that, but in some ways even that did, and the committee should have been able to identify them as a better team. I really like their chances against Oregon tomorrow.
-Nevada defeated Creighton in overtime to advance to the second round for the third time in four years. That is an incredible accomplishment for the Wolfpack, and I really like their chances against Memphis if they can find a way to slow down the Tigers. Memphis has great athletes and if it turns into a transition game it will be really difficult for Nevada to keep up. SATURDAY'S SECOND ROUND GAMES
-9. XAVIER VS 1. OHIO STATE (pick-Ohio State). This game has an interesting story line seeing as how Ohio State head coach Thad Matta used to be the head man at Xavier. XU fans arent too happy about how he left, but they will likely be even less happy after todays game. Xavier did prove that they could handle a strong defense and go to the glass against a bigger team in their first round game against BYU. It was a great win for the Muskies. Unfortunately, Ohio State is much better than BYU and Xavier will really need to extend themselves to pull off the upset in this one. If Xavier were to win it would be one of their most satisfying victories in school history. If Ohio State wins, it keeps their very real national championship hopes alive.
-5. BUTLER VS 4. MARYLAND (pick-Maryland). The Terps struggled with Davidson in the first round. They now face a very different opponent in Butler who loves to slow it down and force half court offense. When Butler can get control of a games tempo they can beat just about anyone, and proved that early in the season when they took down some top dogs. I think Maryland will take advantage of their athleticism and come out of this one with a win, though.
-6. LOUISVILLE VS 3. TEXAS A&M (pick-Louisville). Louisville completely dominated their first round game, and is one of the most dangerous teams in the country right now. They played extremely well down the stretch, and that evidently hasnt let up in the NCAA Tournament. TAMU plays great defense and has one of the best players in the country in Acie Law
, so this is obviously a game either team could win. I just think Louisville will have an answer for TAMUs defense.
-6. VANDERBILT VS 3. WASHINGTON STATE (pick-Washington State). Vanderbilt mopped the floor with George Washington in their first round game, and although Wazzu struggled with Oral Roberts in the first half, they were in complete control throughout the second half. I just think Wazzus defense will shut down Vandy. They just look to be an overall better team to me.
-7. BOSTON COLLEGE VS 2. GEORGETOWN (pick-Georgetown). An interesting story line to this is that these two teams used to be conference foes until Boston College left for the ACC. Georgetown is playing unbelievably well, and BC has been rather streaky. I wouldnt be at all surprised if Georgetown won this by a lot. They are better on offense, defense, rebound better, and appear to have better athletes.
-11. VCU VS 3. PITTSBURGH (pick-Pittsburgh). VCU won a big first round game against Duke, but I believe their Cinderella ride ends here. Pitt is just a far better team. They play great defense and are athletic. One thing about this game that is interesting is the match-up. VCU likes to push the pace wheras Pitt likes to slow it down. VCU does have some great athletes and they could actually end up making this a game. An upset win for VCU wouldnt surprise me all that much, but I still think Pitt is the better team and will get it done.
-7. INDIANA VS 2. UCLA (pick-UCLA). Indiana played very well against Gonzaga in order to get here, but UCLA is just a very strong defensive team and I look for them to shut down the Hoosiers. IU plays pretty good defense themselves, so I think this will be a low scoring game that both teams will have a chance to win, but UCLA has just impressed me more and I believe theyll come away with it.
-9. MICHIGAN STATE VS 1. NORTH CAROLINA (pick-North Carolina). Michigan State is just way overmatched in this one. They did prove they could play against a top notch team when they nearly beat Ohio State, but I just dont see them beating UNC in Winston Salem. In fact I think North Carolina could win by quite a bit.