What a crazy two days of basketball! My back is sore from watching 12 hours of basketball in the San Diego regional after waking up at 5:30 AM and flying to San Diego from Chicago.
Here’s what I’m seeing the round of 32.
- Florida over Pitt – Despite the win over an offenseless Colorado team, don’t be fooled. Pitt is still trending down while Florida surges. Florida ranks 4th best in the field in defensive shooting percentage. I think that, plus their ability to score 71 points per game will win out.
- Louisville over Saint Louis – I think the Billikens run ends today. Louisville struggled a bit in their round 2 game. But I think they are going to hit a stride here and get by SLU. 82.4 PPG while holding teams to 39.4% shooting is why I have Louisville as my #1 overall team. The Cardinals should roll by a bunch.
- Texas over Michigan – These teams are virtually tied statistically. And while Milwaukee will have more Michigan fans than Texas fans, I think Texas will win because they have more success on the road than Michigan. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan win, Texas is a little more athletic and the Big 12 has them ready for a fight a bit more than Big Ten play.
- Syracuse over Dayton – Everyone got to see what the Flyers could do on Thursday. And while Cuse has really struggled of late I think they are just going to frustrate Dayton with that zone. Dayton ranks 57th in defensive FG percentage in the field. Syracuse won’t go much further but I think they’ll get past Dayton.
- Oregon over Wisconsin – Oregon is so different in their ball movement and athleticism from what Wisconsin is used to seeing, I think they get by Wisconsin in a thriller. Both teams struggle defensively but I think the length will be the difference for the Ducks.
- San Diego State over North Dakota State – All of the big game analysts are predicting the Bisons will beat the Aztecs because of SDSU’s struggles to score. I think that talk ends today. Xavier Thames was embarrassed last year when Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, and his team were mystified by Florida Gulf Coast. Two things analysts are missing. #1 SDSU has poise that they didn’t have last year. #2 We are better than NDSU in every category. The Bisons have good offense and defensive numbers, but it won’t matter if they can’t handle the pressure SDSU will provide. SDSU wants to know why they can’t be Cinderella and make it to the Final Four… they certainly have the talent. We’ll see today if they have enough to get a virtual home game next week in Anaheim.
- Michigan State over Harvard – I’m not sure Harvard can get past Michigan State’s team speed. If MSU can dictate the pace/style of play, this could get ugly. Izzo’s Spartans are getting more healthy, more gel, with every game. Watch out. But, and a big BUT, if Harvard controls the pace and gets into half court sets… this could be fun.
- UConn over Nova – There are teams that rise to the occasion. And UConn is always one of them. Nova has had a unique ability to lose the big game and that’ll continue today. UConn is #5 in the field in defensive shooting percentage at 38.7%. That’s all you need to know.
- Kansas over Stanford – I wanted to see New Mexico get past Stanford to take out the Embiid-less Jayhawks. But that’s not going to happen with the Cardinal. Wiggins is going to remind the nation why he’s the best freshmen in the year, expect a big game out of him. Stanford can keep up offensively, but their inability to make it hard on Kansas defensively will mean this game will be a blow out.
- Kentucky over Wichita State – This will be the Shockers first game of the year against a top team since last years Final Four. Kentucky is playing very well all of a sudden and Wichita State just hasn’t seen a team that is long and athletic. I do expect this game to be close. But a completely untested team will not handle late game pressure. Take it to the bank. Kentucky advances.
- Iowa State over North Carolina – For those who haven’t watched ball all season, UNC wasn’t great and Iowa State often times was. Let me be blunt. Iowa State has a better pressure game coach and that’ll be the difference maker. Statistically speaking, UNC is middle of the pack while Iowa State is elite in scoring. (#2 in the field at 82.9 PPG)
- Mercer over Tennessee – The Vols are over-achieving. But I think this is the upset special. Tennessee was a bubble team, played OK enough down the stretch to get an invite. But Mercer is white hot right now and I think they roll the Vols. Mercer averages more PPG and holds teams to a better defensive scoring percentage. The main statistical difference comes in the RPI & BPI… which are now meaningless.
- UCLA over Stephen F. Austin – I loved watching SFA beat VCU yesterday. But I think UCLA is going to overpower the Lumberjacks. The only thing that can hurt UCLA is if SFA gets hot. But I just don’t know if they can handle the pressure that a potential Sweet 16 berth brings.
- Baylor over Creighton – I think Baylor will watch some tape. All you have to do to beat Creighton is make McDermott guard someone and I think they have the match-up that’ll end McDermott’s run. You can’t go zone on him, you have to make him work on the defensive end to get him out of his mojo. I think Baylor finds a way to do that and gets by Creighton.
- Virginia over Memphis – I think the scare yesterday was enough for UVa. There’s a 5% differential between UVa and the Tigers defensively. I think the long arms of Virginia will alter enough shots to propel the Thomas Edison’s team into the Sweet 16.
- Arizona over Gonzaga – I wanted to see more out of the Zags yesterday. But the little guards took too many bad long range shots. If they can dial it in things should be close. But I think that Arizona is just too big for Gonzaga. But, if the Zags can get that low-post & kick out game going… it could frustrate the Cats and end it for them here in San Diego.