Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NCAA Tournament Predictions - Part II - Rapid Fire Style

Write this down. Memorize it. Give yourself extra sleep. Next Monday night at 11:30pm eastern, it's Davidson at Saint Mary's on probably ESPN2. Curry vs Mills, Samhan and Simpson. Can't wait. I'll be in Philly at a conference but I will be up watching!

As usual, I never seem to get through a full NCAA tournament predictions without cutting them short. So the predictions come rapid fire with the little preview behind each. It doesn't mean though I didn't do my research.

Also to make sure to see my previous articles on Part I of my predictions plus read the story on C.W. Post entitled "A D2licious Comeback by Post".


First Round

Pitt over East Tennessee State - Though I love the Bucs trifecta of Tiggs, Pegram and Smith, having first watched them at the Charleston Classic earlier in the season, Pitt's own trifecta of DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and Levance Fields will be just too much.

Oklahoma State over Tennessee - It's going to be a bad day for the state of Tennessee as both the Bucs and the Vols will go down. And that's just not good. Both teams played at the Old Spice Classic. Tennessee lost to Gonzaga in the championship while the Zags sent the Cowboys off to the loser bracket in the first round. The Cowboys have won eight of their last ten while the Vols won only six of their last ten. Both teams are high scoring but the Vols simply just don't play defense. The quick exiting of the SEC teams continues.

Florida State over Wisconsin - When you take a close look at Wisconsin, you can see why they were the second to last at large team in the tournament. Outside of a non conference win at Virginia Tech, no other wins to speak of. And they lost to UConn and Texas at home and at Marquette. They were once 12-3, then lost six in a row, then won four in a row, then lost three of their last five. A neutral site/road record of 6-7 is not pretty either.

Meanwhile Florida State won neutral site games vs California and Western Kentucky, plus the big win over North Carolina in the ACC tournament. Not too many people know about Toney Douglas, but they will after a pasting of the Badgers.

Xavier defeats Portland State - As much as I love Jeremiah Dominguez, the Musketeers BJ Raymomd, CJ Anderson and company will be too much for the Vikings.

Duke over Binghamton - The America East coaches gave no love to DJ Rivera, but man he can play. Unfortunately so can Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer. Blue Devils over Bearcats

Texas over Minnesota - I would like to go on record saying that I really don't care for either team. The peripherals for each are bad. Minnesota played all their non-conference games at home sans two. One was a one point win over a bad Colorado State team. The other, the signature six point neutral site win over Louisville. Texas is 4-7 on the road this season. Their two non conference wins are a home win over UCLA and a neutral site win over Villanova. Texas went 7-7 in their last 14, Minnesota went 5-7 in its last 12. Ugh. I'll take Texas just for the sake of it. Doesn't matter, either team loses to Duke in the second round.

Villanova over American - The game is in Philly. Land of the cheesesteaks and the expensive Jay Wright suits. Enough said.

VCU over UCLA - Been waiting for this matchup. UCLA struggled non conference, losing to their two best opponents, Texas and Michigan. VCU has a neutral site win over off the bubble New Mexico as their best non conference win. A closer look shows UCLA lacks a strong rebounding frontcourt. Bruins meet the Rams' Larry Sanders, a shot blocking solid rebounding machine. If Sanders stays out of foul trouble and I think he will, he will cause havoc for the UCLA frontcourt. Maynor will give Collison and Shipp fits. VCU knocks off UCLA.

Second Round

Pitt over Oklahoma State - It's the Panthers opposing their will on the Cowboys, plus they play a lot better D.

Xavier over Florida State - Xavier has played an incredibly strong non conference schedule with neutral site wins over Memphis and Va Tech and an impressive road win over LSU. They did lose at Duke and home to Butler, no shame in either. Musketeers use that experience to their advantage against the Seminoles.

Duke over Texas - The Blue Devils beat a surprisingly mediocre Longhorns team.

Villanova over VCU - That wonderful Rams press doesn't work well against a guard oriented system especially when it features really good guards. Scottie Reynolds' team outplays Eric Maynor's team.

Sweet 16

Pitt bruises their way past Xavier. Blair and Young run rampant on the smaller Musketeers.

Villanova downs Duke. Good guards always give Duke fits. Nova has good guards.

Elite Eight

In the Big East Tourney Redux, Pitt beats Nova. The Wildcats have no answer for the Panthers DeJuan Blair.


First Round

North Carolina defeats Radford - The Heels over the Highlanders. Watch how Carolina plays if Lawson is out. May tell you how the next round or two will go.

Butler defeats LSU - Simple logic. Xavier won at LSU. Butler won at Xavier. Therefore Butler beats LSU on neutral site. Also note, LSU has not won a significant non conference game on the road or neutral site. In addition to the loss at home to Xavier, LSU has lost at Texas A&M and at Utah. Those were the only two non-conference road games they had. As you know Butler also won at Davidson.

Illinois defeats Western Kentucky - I can see the Hilltoppers winning here but Illinois has been sneaky good in non-conference road and neutral site games. They did lose at home to Clemson by a point but they defeated Missouri and Tulsa on neutral sites. They also won conference games at Purdue and Ohio State. Western Kentucky does have the famous "neutral site" win against Louisville at Freedom Hall. But the Illini play better D and that will be the difference.

Gonzaga defeats Akron - The beginning of a long run for the well balanced underrated defensive Zags. How long? Keep reading.

Oklahoma St defeats Morgan State - Blake Griffin and company too much for the Bears. The Bears do have a signature non-conference win over the Twerps, so give them credit. However, the Sooners are not the Twerps (meaning they are really good as opposed to well, mediocre) and this will be over early.

Clemson defeats Michigan - I could see either team winning. Clemson did an el foldo down the stretch, like it seems every previous year. Clemson lost four of its last five including the bad second round loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament. Michigan wasn’t much better going 7-10 over its last 17 games. I like Clemson for one reason. Michigan is 0-2 in neutral or road games vs the ACC (yes they beat Duke the second time at home, but they got pasted at MSG). Clemson had a one point win over Illinois. Plus Michigan is young enough to be affected by the Clemson 40 minute press. Clemson moves on.

Syracuse crushes Stephen A. Austin

Temple beats Arizona State - Dionte Christmas brings the Owls lots of presents in a win over a struggling Sun Devils Team.

Second Round

North Carolina barely beats Butler - Watch whether Ty Lawson plays in the first round game. If not he might be very rusty for this game and that could make a difference. Butler can win this game if Lawson is rusty or especially if he is out. If Lawson is out, all bets are off here, cause Butler can play. Most interesting matchup of the second round - Tyler Hansborough vs. Matt Howard. Looking forward to it. Also, see how Carolina matches up on Hayward and Mack on the outside. I think Carolina survives..barely.

Gonzaga beats Illinois. Gonzaga is more athletic than the Illini. Matt Bouldin is the difference here.

Oklahoma beats Clemson. Oklahoma’s guards are good enough to beat the Clemson press. Look for lots of easy Blake Griffin scores.

Temple over Syracuse. Christmas Time comes to the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16

Gonzaga beats North Carolina - Yes you read it correctly. Gonzaga has the athletes and the depth to play with Carolina. The difference is Gonzaga plays defense. Carolina doesn’t. The Zags always solid non-conference schedule becomes important here. They had UConn beat at home if AJ Price doesn’t hit that miracle three. And that’s with a full UConn team with Jerome Dyson that the Zags hung with. Key matchup - Josh Heytvelt vs. Hansborough. I think Heytvelt comes to play here.

Oklahoma defeats Temple - The Christmas Season ends in the Sweet 16. Blake Griffin is just too much for the Owls.

Elite Eight

Oklahoma defeats Gonzaga - This is where Blake Griffin puts the Sooners on his back and brings them to the Final Four.

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