Friday, March 19, 2010

NCAA Second-Round Predictions ... In 16 Words a Piece


10 St. Mary’s vs. 2 Villanova;11:05 a.m. Providence (South)
The 'Cats almost were saying Noooooooo!(va) against Robert Morris; can they recollect themselves in Round 2?

13 Murray State vs. 5 Butler; 1:20 p.m. San Jose (West)
The slipper fit against Vandy. It won't against a better team with its own Cinderella experience

14 Ohio vs. 6 Tennessee; 1:25 p.m. Providence (Midwest)
Had G'town here, so I'll go with Vols. If Ohio's on fire again, could be interesting

9 Northern Iowa vs. 1 Kansas; 3:40 p.m. Oklahoma City (Midwest)
All of the Hawkeye state is watching. But those Jayhawks are too strong and too deep

11 Old Dominion vs. 3 Baylor; 3:45 p.m. New Orleans (South)
The Irish slayers get a shot at the Bears. So much Cinderella potential on Super Saturday

11 Washington vs. 3 New Mexico; 3:50 p.m. San Jose (East)
Interesting how traditionally-powerhouse conference team is big underdog in this one. Lobos will keep rolling

7 BYU vs. 2 Kansas State; 6 p.m. Oklahoma City (West)
Jimmer Fredette, this is your big Stephen Curry time. K-State will be a physical brute, though

9 Wake Forest vs. 1 Kentucky; 6:05 p.m. New Orleans (East)
This one's easy. Demon Deacons are still struggling, while Wildcats flexed 'em large in Round 1

SUNDAY, Mar. 21

8 Gonzaga vs. 1 Syracuse; 11:10 p.m. Buffalo (West)
Gee whiz, did the Orange look good Friday night. Zags don't have enough firepower to match

10 Georgia Tech vs. 2 Ohio State; 1:10 p.m. Milwaukee (Midwest)
Nice little win for the Yellow Jackets, but Mr. Evan Turner is just getting heated up

5 Michigan State vs. 4 Maryland; 1:30 p.m. Spokane (Midwest)
This pick no longer feels good. "The Lane Violation" has undoubtedly angered the Basketball Tournament Gods

10 Missouri vs. 2 West Virginia; 1:40 p.m. Buffalo (East)
"Hello, Officer? There's a fight breaking out at Perry Hill. Room 203. Friendly rivalry turned ugly."

12 Cornell vs. 4 Wisconsin; 1:50 p.m. Jacksonville (East)
Big Red versus Let's Go Red. Two interesting styles will clash; can Bucky's experience win out?

6 Xavier vs. 3 Pittsburgh; 3:50 p.m. Milwaukee (West)
Pitt one of the few top seeds to come out firing, start to finish against Oakland

5 Texas A&M vs. 4 Purdue; 4 p.m. Spokane (South)
Boilers still have many talented players. But tough second-rounder is where Hummel will be missed

8 California vs. 1 Duke; 4:15 p.m. Jacksonville (South)
Golden Bears looked awesome at times against L'ville; awful at others. Won't fly vs. Coach K

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NCAA First-Round Predictions ... In 16 Words a Piece

Here are the matchups, in order of tipoff time. I've boldened my pick for the winner; to make it easy, the only first-round upsets I have are Old Diminion over Notre Dame, St. Mary's over Richmond, Northern Iowa over UNLV, and Mizzou over Clemson. All start times are Central.

Now excuse me while I wash this chalk off my fingers before MARCH MADNESS commences. -AJ


10 Florida vs. 7 BYU; 11:20 a.m. Oklahoma City (West regional)
Stormin' Mormons have one heck of a player in Jimmer Fredette; Gators nearly missed the NCAAs

11 Old Dominion vs. 6 Notre Dame; 11:25 a.m. New Orleans (South)
Don't trust the Fighting Irish; can't forget they were nowhere near tourney contention before hot streak

15 Robert Morris vs. 2 Villanova; 11:30 a.m. Providence (South)
Robert Morris is a hockey school. And an 18th-century financier. Looked it up on Wikipedia

13 Murray State vs. 4 Vanderbilt; 1:30 p.m. San Jose (West)
I don't pick teams to win if I have no idea where its campus is located

15 North Texas vs. 2 Kansas State; 1:40 p.m. Oklahoma City (West)
I do know where North Texas is located; Texas. North part of the state. But still

14 Sam Houston State vs. 3 Baylor; 1:45 p.m. New Orleans (South)
Gotta love those intrastate matchups. Could be start of a long run for the Waco kids

10 St. Mary’s vs. 7 Richmond; 1:50 p.m. Providence (South)
Wait, the Gaels are flying cross-country? Yuck ... this pick might have been a mistake. Whoops

12 UTEP vs. 5 Butler; 3:45 p.m. San Jose (West)
I'm not sucking the El Paso popsicle. Butler's the one used to busting brackets via wins

9 Northern Iowa vs. 8 UNLV; 6:10 p.m. Oklahoma City (Midwest)
Runnin' Rebels aren't what they used to be; Ben Jacobson's Panthers feel disrespected by their seed

16 East Tennessee State vs. 1 Kentucky; 6:15 p.m. New Orleans (East)
Take out the "East" and "State", and we've got a great rivalry! Anyone wanna bite? Anyone?

11 Washington vs. 6 Marquette; 6:20 p.m. San Jose (East)
Battle-tested Big East team versus Pac-10 dreg lucky to be dancing. Take those Golden Eagles

14 Ohio vs. 3 Georgetown; 6:25 p.m. Providence (Midwest)
Still can't believe the Hoyas were just an 8-seed in conference tournament. That league is loaded

16 Lehigh vs. 1 Kansas; 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma City (Midwest)
You're gonna make me write 16 words about this? Really? Are ya? PUNK?!?! There. 16 words

9 Wake Forest vs. 8 Texas; 8:35 p.m. New Orleans (East)
Longhorns have been in freefall for awhile. But Demon Deacons are proning to throwing in towel

14 Montana vs. 3 New Mexico; 8:40 p.m. San Jose (East)
Ya think Iowa fans are wishing Steve Alford were still around? Lobos are glad he's there

11 San Diego State vs. 6 Tennessee; 8:45 p.m. Providence (Midwest)
Aztecs are another trendy option, but I'll go with the big-conference tourney-experienced team, thanks



FRIDAY, Mar. 19

15 Morgan State vs. 2 West Virginia; 11:15 p.m. Buffalo (East)
Now I know why Huggins always wears jumpsuits. His team makes him sweat waaaaaaay too much

11 Minnesota vs. 6 Xavier; 11:25 p.m. Milwaukee (West)
Gophers, honestly, shouldn't be in this position. Illinois belongs in the tournament, not necessarily Tubby's crew

12 Cornell vs. 5 Temple; 11:30 p.m. Jacksonville (East)
Big Red could be a tough matchup, but Owls have played solidly from wire to wire

13 Siena vs. 4 Purdue; 1:30 p.m. Spokane (South)
Robbie Hummel does not a full team make. Moore, Johnson, Kramer, Grant, Jackson also fairly decent

10 Missouri vs. 7 Clemson; 1:35 p.m. Buffalo (East)
Clash of the Tigers; haven't picked many upsets, so I'll go with the little bro's school

14 Oakland vs. 3 Pittsburgh; 1:45 p.m. Milwaukee (West)
Big East has laid giant stinker in this tournament. Bad news for my Final Four Panthers?

13 Wofford vs. 4 Wisconsin; 1:50 p.m. Jacksonville (East)
Terriers might nip at Badger heels, but Bo Ryan rarely loses to those underdogs in March

12 Utah State vs. 5 Texas A&M; 3:45 p.m. Spokane (South)
Clash of the Aggies: USU was last team in, why so quick to undermine Big XII?

9 Florida State vs. 8 Gonzaga; 6:10 p.m. Buffalo (West)
Zags, Noles from opposite sides of the country. Part of what makes March Madness so mad

10 Georgia Tech vs. 7 Oklahoma State; 6:15 p.m. Milwaukee (Midwest)
Yellow Jackets gave da Dukies a run in ACC tournament, but Cowboys' James Anderson is legit

12 New Mexico State vs. 5 Michigan State; 6:20 p.m. Spokane (Midwest)
And so begins Izzo's quiet dominance following Big Ten tourney flameout; Sparty could make extended run

16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. 1 Duke; 6:25 p.m. Jacksonville (South)
Probably wouldn't believe me if I said I have Arkansas-Pine Bluff making Final Four, huh?

16 Vermont vs. 1 Syracuse; 8:30 p.m. Buffalo (West)
Ditto the above statement, only insert Vermont. Time for 'Cuse to get rid of inconsistent play

15 UC-Santa Barbara vs. 2 Ohio State; 8:35 p.m. Milwaukee (Midwest)
By the way, all five Big Ten teams are playing Friday. Over/under on winners: 3.5

13 Houston vs. 4 Maryland; 8:40 p.m. Spokane (Midwest)
Maryland's Greivis Vazquez, meet Houston's Aubrey Coleman. The country expects a wonderful, SportsCenter-caliber scoring duel

9 Louisville vs. 8 California; 8:45 p.m. Jacksonville (South)
Big East caps an unholy, nightmarish first round. Pac-10 caps a best-case scenario opening slate

FIRST-ROUND RESULTS: 26-of-32; 15 of Sweet 16, entire Elite 8 in tact

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Big Ten Tournament Picks

Thursday, March 11

Game 1: No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Iowa, ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.

First meeting: The Wolverines’ one-two punch of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims enjoyed some 20/20 vision, each scoring that much in a systematic 60-46 home victory.

Second meeting: The fans at Carver-Hawkeye were given a rare thriller, but went home disappointed as Sims’ 27 points lifted Michigan to a 80-78 overtime win to spoil 30 points and 13 rebounds for Iowa’s Aaron Fuller.

AB's take: This is not a vote of confidence in Michigan. This is facing the facts against an Iowa team that has kicked off March Madness with losses of 27 and 35 points. Looks like some people are ready for the season to end.

AB's Pick: Wolverines

Game 2: No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Indiana, ESPN2, 4 p.m.

First meeting: All five Northwestern starters scored in double digits, and Verdell Jones III scored 28 fruitless points in a 78-16 Wildcat win in Welsh-Ryan.

Second meeting: Indiana recorded a conference season-high in points, holding off NU in overtime 88-80 behind 24 points by Jordan Hulls. John Shurna had 31 points and 12 boards for the Wildcats.

AB's take: The ‘Cats better hope they have nine lives, because every time Northwestern seemed primed to lock up that coveted NCAA bid, it laid a giant stinker of a loss to set its chances back. Perhaps a 20th victory could help sweeten the deal for bracketologists.

AB's Pick: Wildcats

Game 3: No. 6 Minnesota vs. No. 11 Penn State, BTN, 6 p.m.

First meeting: Lawrence Westbrook went off for 29 points and the Golden Gophers opened Big Ten play with a 75-70 win at the Barn.

Second meeting: Westbrook nailed a game-winning, buzzer-beating jumper and Ralph Sampson III (13 and 10) had a double-double to help Minnesota squeak past Penn State 66-64 in State College.

AB's take: Actually, the Nittany Lions are finally starting to pick up their game. And the Gophers have been somewhat of an enigma this year. But Minnesota remains too deep to allow an undermanned team like Penn State indignify the Gophers in Thursday’s finale.

AB's Pick: Golden Gophers

Friday, March 12

Game 4: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Michigan, ESPN, 11 a.m.

First meeting: This was part of Ohio State’s snag to open the conference season, dropping its second straight Big Ten game due to DeShawn Sims’ 28 points and nine boards. Manny Harris chipped in 24 in Michigan’s 73-64 home victory.

Second meeting: The Buckeyes turned the tables back at Value City Arena, getting by 66-55 on another stellar Evan Turner night (18 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists) and William Buford scoring 24 of his own.

AB's take: Let’s not waste too much time on this one. ESPN is getting a dud to kick off its Friday coverage, whether Iowa or Michigan wins the tournament opener Thursday.

AB's Pick: Buckeyes

Game 5: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Illinois, ESPN, 1:30 p.m.

First meeting: Wisconsin fans, cover your ears. Bruce Weber continued to wave a magic wand in the Kohl Center and the Illini became the only team to beat the Badgers on their home floor, winning 63-56 behind Demetri McCamey’s 27 points and seven helpers.

Second meeting: The Badgers garnered a measure of revenge, crippling Illinois’ NCAA tournament hopes and receiving 20 points a piece from Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor in a 72-57 victory.

AB's take: If the Illini needed Sunday’s regular season finale, they desperate need Friday’s rematch. Problem is, their trusty and vociferous Orange Krush won’t be behind them in Indianapolis. If Trevon Hughes’ ankle is a serious injury, the Badgers could be trouble; but he wasn’t terribly effective Sunday anyway when UW got by just fine.

AB's Pick: Badgers

Game 6: No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 7 Northwestern, BTN, 5:30 p.m.

Only meeting: Would you believe the only Big Ten team Purdue didn’t beat this year is … Northwestern? That’s right, in the teams’ lone date this year, the Wildcats did their upset thang at Welsh-Ryan, taking 20 points from Michael Thompson and a double-double from Luka Mirkovic – that’s right, Luka Mirkovic – to stun the Boilers 72-64.

AB's take: Purdue’s loss of Robbie Hummel is crippling to its home-state title hopes. In fact, it’s not good for any Big Ten Tournament desires they’re after. Call this my upset special of the weekend, as the hot-and-cold Wildcats decide to reach for the left-hand nozzle and turn up the heat on undermanned Purdue.

AB's Pick: Wildcats

Game 7: No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Minnesota, BTN, 8 p.m.

First meeting: Durrell Summers provided 13 big points off the bench to complement Kalin Lucas’ 14 points, and the 36-percent-shooting Spartans came up with one of those ugly-but-effective Breslin Center wins, 60-53.

Second meeting: Minnesota was in control early, but Lucas (22 points) was just good enough down the stretch to lead the Spartans to a nail-biting 65-64 win at the Barn.

AB's take: MSU hasn’t always made it look pretty this year, but now it’s March, which is when Tom Izzo-coached teams tend to turn on the afterburners. It’s not like the Gophers are the type to haul in big fish like the defending national runners-up in primetime.

AB's Pick: Spartans

Saturday, March 13

Game 8: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin, CBS, 12:40 p.m.

First meeting: This was one of those games when Evan Turner looked fly on the Kohl Center bench in street clothes and Ohio State looked fried without him. Trevon Hughes recorded team-highs with 16 points and seven boards to help UW cruise 65-43.

Second meeting: Yeah, that fellow wearing No. 21 in scarlet makes a difference. Turner scored 15 as he was still shaking off the rust, but David Lighty led the way with 18 points and the Buckeyes shot 52 percent en route to a 60-51 win at Value City Arena.
AB's take: Ohio State dismissed Wisconsin in last year’s 4-versus-5 BTT quarterfinals, when the Badgers couldn’t hold on to a 7-point lead in the final six minutes. This year’s UW team is much wiser and arguably more talented. But alas, so is Ohio State’s 2010 version.

AB's Pick: Buckeyes

Game 9: No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 3 Michigan State, CBS, 3:10 p.m.

First meeting: MSU opened Big Ten play with its most explosive road offensive game of the year, enjoying 40 bench points and soaring past host Northwestern 91-70.

Second meeting: Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas combined for 47 points on 15-of-24 shooting, and NU’s John Shurna saw a 31-point outburst go for naught when Michigan State prevailed 79-70.

AB's take: This is where the fairy tale ends for NU. Michigan State has scored 50 and 49 second-half points in its two games against Northwestern, which tells you a little bit about how its superior athleticism wears down the plucky-but-overmatched Wildcats.

AB's Pick: Spartans

Sunday, March 14

Game 10: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan State, CBS, 2:30 p.m.

Only meeting: The schedule was in Michigan State’s favor as the Spartans did not have to travel to Columbus. But the Buckeyes quite enjoyed themselves up in East Lansing, as Evan Turner set aside a head cold to drop 20 points (16 in the second half), 10 rebounds and six assists on the Spartans in a pivotal 74-67 victory just three weeks ago. Turner, William Buford, Jon Diebler and David Lighty played the entire game.

AB's take: There has to be somewhat of a confidence boost gained by that win in Breslin for the Buckeyes – especially since it was won by a veteran group of just six players that checked into the game. Don’t be surprised to see MSU come out firing with all intents of roaring into the NCAA tournament with a bang. But Evan Turner knows this is the time to show NBA scouts why he should be the No. 1 pick – not to mention his last chance to satisfy his beloved OSU fans with some March heroics.

AB's Pick: Buckeyes