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.