Sweet 16: South and East Sweet 16 Picks

March 26, 2009

 

AP Photo/Matt York

AP Photo/Matt York

If you’re looking for analysis on the UCONN recruiting scandal, politely click the red “X” in the top right corner. Unlike Yahoo, I respect the sanctity of the NCAA tournament and what it means to student athletes’ futures. Publicity ploys such as these only benefit writers’ resume, at the expense of kids who’ve kept their noses clean. How anyone could take pleasure in generating distractions this time of year is beyond me.

 

Now, let’s get to my picks for tonight s games.

 

 

UConn over Purdue

 

I’ve heard quite a few analysts suggest that Purdue is capable of upsetting UCONN tonight. What the hell are they smoking? I could go into the particulars of the how this player matches up with that player, but I’m looking at this game from a motivation perspective. The lights are always bright when you reach this point in the season. However when all eyes are tuned in to see how you react to recent developments, you’re motivated to make a statement. This game will go one of two ways: UCONN runs Purdue out of the building, or Purdue loses a close one. Either way I don’t see Purdue overcoming their rebounding deficiencies.

 

Pittsburgh over Xavier

 

All week Pittsburgh has heard they would be the first #1 seed to knocked out the tournament. I can get behind that line of thinking, based off their recent tourney history. Pitt is often favored to reach the Elite Eight and Final Four, but they always play a terrible game that results in them being ousted. Sean Miller is gonna throw big body after big body at Dejuan Blair, and if he’s able to stay out of the foul trouble, I believe Pitt can squeak out another nailbiter.

 

Memphis over Missouri

 

I’m sick of hearing Digger Phelps and Doug Gottlieb go on & on about how Tyree Evans won’t be able to handle Missouri’s pressure. Did they not see Maryland press Memphis last week? Tyreke would inbound the ball and pass it off to Dozier at midcourt, or Antonio Anderson & Roburt Sallie would bring it up the court. Calipari won’t put his freshman in the uncomfortable position of trying to break a press that he’s not accustomed to seeing. Mike Anderson might’ve coached UAB when they beat Memphis in 2006. But this isn’t he same Memphis team, and Anderson hasn’t coached against a team with Memphis’s size. Darius Washington and Rodney Carney aren’t shooting shots for the hell of it, and Joey Dorsey isn’t out there losing his mind. The game might be close, but Memphis’s size and talent will prevail.

 

Villanova over Duke

 

Duke has been playing pretty good basketball since Jon Scheyer too over point guard duties, and I love the Memphis kid, Elliot Williams’s impact on the defensive end. Yet when I look at Villanova’s depth and that difficult matchup inside Dante Cunningham creates for Duke’s bigs, I have to give the edge to Villanova. Scottie Reynold and Corey Fisher’s perimeter play should give Duke’s defense fits tonight. So like most of my picks in this year’s tournament…when in doubt, go with the big East. Villanova wins a close one.

 

Hopefully we see some good games tonight. And I’ll delve into the Midwest and South regions tomorrow.

 

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March Madness: Round 2

March 21, 2009

in_a_calipari_576

If anyone’s seen my bracket, let me know. After a slow day Thursday, my brackets were toast by 11 p.m. last night. I filled out so many brackets, but the two I’m most focused on, on in the PSN Yahoo group. My “The Crunkest” bracket had 23 out of the 32 winners. That’s not terrible but when you consider that I lost two of my Sweet 16 teams, I’ll need everyone else to lose the Xavier/Wisconsin, and Cleveland St./Arizona game. Seriously, who had Cleveland St. and Wisconsin winning those games?

The second round tips off in a matter of hours. I’m anxious to see if teams like Pitt, Memphis, and Villanova can bounce back from rather shaky performances. If not, I’m screwed because all three in my Elite Eight, and two are in my Final Four. Hopefully Calipari, Dixon, and Wright chewed their guys out, and they’ll play like the great teams they are.

Anyway, here are the games I’m keeping an eye on, and how I think they’ll turn out.

3 Villanova over 6 UCLA

I haven’t been impressed with UCLA all season. They’ve been inconsistent on defense this year, and that’s unusual when talking about a Ben Howland team. If Villanova had played a better game Thursday, and this game wasn’t in Philadelphia, I could see UCLA grinding this game out until the end. Unfortunately that’s not the case. I really think this game will boil down to UCLA playing the wrong team, at the wrong time & place.

2 Memphis over10 Maryland

As a Memphis fan I was beside myself after their “too cool for school” approach to Cal St. Northridge. I don’t care if you’re the L.A. Lakers playing the Memphis Grizzlies, if you think you can win a game just by walking on the court, there’s 50-50 chance you’re gonna get your ass kicked. Talk about a bail out, that’s what Roburt Sallie did for Memphis. I didn’t think the kid had it in him. Before the season I thought he’d be the deadly sharp shooter Memphis has been looking to pair with their overly athletic team. Those expectations were never realized until Thursday so I gave up hope. Thursday’s game should serve as a wake-up call for a team that has championship aspirations.

As for Maryland, all my concerns about the matchup, went out the window after I read the Commercial Appeal’s article on Greivis Vasquez.

“If they (Memphis) played in the ACC, they’d have a losing record in the league. They’d win all their games outside the league. The ACC is tough. You can’t win games night in and night out because you have good athletes.”

 

Thank you Greivis, you’d set my mind as ease. When you kick a giant while he’s down, all you do is motivate him to rise up and swat you away. I love Memphis in this game, and I can’t wait to see Vasquez eat a nice plate of barbecued crow.

 

1 North Carolina over 8 LSU

 

Don’t hold me to that pick because I would happily accept being proven wrong. LSU really showed me something against Butler. They’re far more athletic than I had originally believed, and Marcus Thornton is a baller. I hate picking North Carolina in games like this one. LSU has long athletic players that could give Hansbrough some trouble. Like it’s been said over the past week, this game will come down to Ty Lawson’s health. If he’s able to be the explosive guard he’s been all season, I believe North Carolina could run away from LSU early.

 

Rest of the picks:

1 UCONN over 9 Texas A&M

4 Washington over 5 Purdue

2 Oklahoma over 10 Michigan

4 Gonzaga over12 W. Kentucky

2. Duke over 7 Texas

3 Syracuse over 6 Arizona St.

12 Wisconsin over 4 Xavier

3 Kansas over 11 Dayton

12 Arizona over 13 Cleveland St.

1 Pittsburgh over 8 Oklahoma St.

3 Missouri over 6 Marquette

10 USC over 2 Michigan St.

1Louisville over 9 Sienna 

Enjoy today’s games folks.