Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quick picks for today's games...

...first of all, from now on I'm making two rules for picking future tourneys: 1) Always pick chalk for the 1-3 seeds (obviously the 1-2 seeds aren't a problem, but there's always at least one tempting 3/14 game, and I always get it wrong), and 2) How a team played over the last few weeks is in almost no way an indication of how they'll do in the tourney. I will no longer use that as a factor in my picks. Virginia crumbled at the end of the season, and they absolutely embarassed Albany. Same for others. Once you make it to the tourney, your season starts anew. Anyway...on to today's games...

Ohio State vs Xavier

For a long time, I've been telling friends (and anybody else who will listen) that the NBA age limit is great for college hoops because the top teams will always be young, and it will always open the door for experienced mid-major teams to make some noise. This game will be a test of that. Granted, OSU starts three upperclassmen, but they still skew quite young. Xavier, on the other hand, starts 3 Jr's and 2 Sr's. This game is also intriguing because of the 'Mizzou-SMS' factor--Xavier hates OSU because OSU refuses to play them (it's a no-win situation for OSU just like with MU against SMS or SLU). I have to pick OSU here obviously, but this could be a really good game.

Or maybe I'm just extremely desperate for a good game after two mostly blah days, and I'm able to talk myself into anything.

Original pick for this round: OSU over Xavier.

Butler vs Maryland

A lot of people are saying that Butler looked pretty bad against ODU the other day--and they pretty much did--but that's the type of game Butler plays. They make things messy, and they make 3's. Against a team like Maryland who wants to run, that might be pretty successful (they did win the Preseason NIT, after all). Or, they could lose by 25. Just depends on which style wins out. I'll split the difference and say Maryland by about 8.

Original pick: Maryland over Old Dominion.

Louisville vs Texas A&M

The best game of the day in my eyes. When originally looking at the bracket, I had the winner of this game going to the Final Four...of course, then too many people started picking ATM, so I changed my Final Four pick to Ohio State. Either way, though, I think the winner of this game takes the Sweet Sixteen game pretty easily. No team played better than Louisville in Round One (though Stanford helped out by proving me right that they didn't belong anywhere near the tourney), and no team is more battle-tested than ATM. I originally picked ATM, and I'll stick with that, but if Louisville plays the same as they did on Thursday, they could run away with it.

Original pick: Texas A&M over Louisville

Vanderbilt vs Washington State

This was my biggest screwup of the first round. I stuck with Oral Roberts even though they got a 14 seed instead of a 13, and Washington State made me regret that. Plus, I thought Vandy peaked a while back and didn't have anything left. Oops. They were right up there for "best team of the first round" along with Louisville, Tennessee, and Kansas. This could be a great matchup too (the 3/6 games seem to be the most intriguing). I'm picking Wazzu this time simply because a) I regret not picking them in the first round, and b) it seems like everybody's counting them out again and picking Vandy.

Original pick: GW over Oral Roberts...oops.

Boston College vs Georgetown

Like everybody else, I saw this matchup and thought, " can two Big East teams be playing each other in the second round? Oh yeah..." Whereas Va Tech is a pretty natural fit in the ACC, BC will always seem like an Marquette in the Big East. Anyway, BC played better than I thought they would in the first round (again, that "they sucked to end the season" thing coming back to bite me), but Georgetown just has everything clicking right now. It wouldn't surprise me if this game was pretty close and physical, but I'm sticking with Georgetown.

Original pick: Georgetown over Texas Tech

VCU vs Pittsburgh

I picked Duke to jinx them, and it worked...but man, how good did VCU look Thursday night? They lack size, and that will hurt them big time versus Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall, but Duke had Josh McRoberts, and he had a big game...and how did that work out for Duke? Pitt's guards are quicker than Duke's (just about everybody's guards are quicker than Duke's), and they could prevent VCU from imposing their style quite as much...but I'm hopping on the bandwagon, baby!! VCU by 6.

Original pick: Duke over Pitt

Indiana vs UCLA

Yeah, UCLA looked just a wee bit better Thursday night than they did in the Pac 10 tourney. I was a little concerned about that. Anyway, they play Indiana's pretty physical style as well as Indiana does, and their guards are much, much better. This could be a pretty boring 12-point win for UCLA.

Original pick: UCLA over Indiana

Michigan State vs North Carolina

I'd never want to play Michigan State in the tourney, and not only because Tom Izzo's had, shall we say, a bit of success there. State's a team that, by this time of the season, is a pretty known quantity. You know exactly what you're going to get from them--you can't really count on them having a bad day--and if you have a bad game against them, there's no question you'll lose. If UNC's shots aren't falling and Wright and/or Hansbrough get in foul trouble, UNC's in serious trouble. I won't be surprised if this game is close late, but I have to stick with UNC on this one. Nothing makes me happier than Roy Williams losing, though, so I sure won't cry if Team Izzo takes this one.

Original pick: UNC over Michigan State

(Note: At the moment, it's 11-10 OSU, so hopefully this ends up a pretty close and entertaining game. So far, the intensity's been there, but we're on pace for about a 44-40 OSU victory. Bleh.)