Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday quick picks...

Yes, I realize there's really nothing quick about these, but hey...humor me...

And I guess I should take the time to apologize to VCU for jumping on their bandwagon. There's no better way for me to curse a team than by starting to root for them. Helluva comeback, though.

And I do like how there were about 3 exciting games in the entire first round, and there were 7 yesterday. Good omen for the rest of the tourney.

Tennessee vs Virginia

Two unpredictable and exciting teams who were absolutely fantastic in the opening round. I'm a bit surprised that this is the game they chose as the solo opening slot, but I'm not complaining. I have absolutely no idea what will happen here, but I'll go with Tennessee because they've performed better in must-win games, and Bruce Pearl's system gives them a more defined identity...which is sometimes pretty important in the tourney. And they have the single-best player on the court in Lofton.

Original pick: Tennessee over Albany.

Purdue vs Florida

Matchups are funny sometimes. Whereas Purdue matched up very well with Arizona and Arizona matched up pretty well with Florida, I don't think Purdue matches up well at all with Florida. Florida is beatable, but you need some offensive explosiveness to pull it off, and I don't think Purdue has the goods there. They like to muss up a game like UCLA does, only UCLA has Collison and Afflalo. Carl Landry is good, but...yeah, I think Florida wins by 10-12.

Original pick: Florida over Purdue

UNLV vs Wisconsin

Okay, here's the other reason my brackets don't win--I pick something, then immediately think I picked the opposite. I could have sworn I picked UNLV over Georgia Tech and Wisconsin this weekend, but I just went back and checked, and I had GT instead. Whatever. I'm not the only one who thinks Wisconsin is the most vulnerable of the 1's and 2's--pretty much everybody thinks that at some point--but I did get to see UNLV multiple times in Vegas last week, and I must say...they've got a really nice combination of grind and athleticism. They can play physical, and they can play in a track meet. As Wisconsin proved in round one, they can have a problem with really athletic teams--A&M-CC definitely fell into that category--so UNLV's got a really good chance. If Kevin Kruger can actually hit a couple of shots in this game, this game is a tossup. And since I picked Wisconsin to lose originally, I'll stick with that.

Again, I'm desperate for upsets.

Original pick: UNLV Georgia Tech over Wisconsin

Virginia Tech vs Southern Illinois

Jekyll/Hyde versus Known Quantity. I was hoping for an Illinois/SIU matchup here, but the refs swallowed their whistles at the end of the VT/Ill game, and VT moved on. SIU will punch VT in the mouth early, and how VT responds will dictate the pace of the game. Tech has the better athletes, but SIU is smarter and has been more battle-tested over the last few years. Since VT let Illinois dictate the pace most of the game (before a late-game surge), and since SIU's even better at the physical, methodical game than Illinois, I'll go out on a limb and pick SIU.

And then I'll change my mind and pick Virginia Tech.

Original pick: Illinois over SIU

Winthrop vs Oregon

Speaking of Jekyll & Hyde...Oregon beats USC by about 80, then barely creeps by Miami-OH. Miami played the perfect style to combat Oregon, and UO didn't shoot all that well. Winthrop isn't as plodding as Oregon, going with a three-guards-and-a-big-aussie lineup, but they'll probably still have the size advantage against UO's four-guard linup. In other words, if the Ducks aren't making 3's, they're extremely vulnerable. As soon as VCU lost, I jumped on the Winthrop bandwagon, so I think you know who I'm picking here.

Original pick: Oregon over Winthrop

Nevada vs Memphis

Like a lot of people (I just can't figure out a way to be original!), I've been pretty down on Memphis. I'll reiterate why--they went 2-3 versus tourney teams and shoot 61% from the FT line. That's not very good. They struggled for a while with a decent North Texas team, but that's been their calling card all season versus overmatched teams--let the other team run with you until they wear down in the second half, then crush them with a big run. Nevada is an extremely underrated 7-seed who survived a bad game from Nick Fazekas to beat Creighton in the first round. He'll obviously have to play quite well today, but if he does, Nevada's got the goods to win. And since I picked Nevada initially, I'll stick with them (unlike Oregon).

Original pick: Nevada over Memphis

Kentucky vs Kansas

Again with the matchups. Whereas I think Villanova could have offered an interesting matchup for Kansas, I just don't think Kentucky is anywhere near explosive enough to threaten here. Sure, Randolph Morris is much better than Sasha Kaun head-to-head, but Kaun is underrated in how he fits into Kansas' team defense.

I just made myself gag a little bit saying that.

Anyway, I don't see Morris having a good game, and I don't see Kentucky being able to keep up with KU for more than about 30 minutes. Gotta go with Kansas.

Original pick: Kansas over Villanova

USC vs Texas

Needless to say, I'm not feeling altogether confident in my Final Four pick after they struggled mightily against New Mexico State in the first round. However, Kevin Durant admitted to being nervous, and I think NMSU was playing out of its mind for quite a while. If Texas plays more comfortable this time around, they should handle USC pretty easily. USC has some decent weapons, but UT has more.

Original pick: Texas over Arkansas (oops).