John and Tim Pick the East Bracket

Might the Butler do it again?

1. Kentucky vs. 16. East Tennessee State

Tim: ETSU has given teams trouble in past years as a 16, 15, and 13. No such luck this year as the Wildcats roll.

John: I wouldn’t be surprised if Kentucky played a deceptively close game in the first round; as I’ve said before, the Wildcats have a tendency to let a vastly inferior team into the game through sloppy play, even if they pull ahead in the end.

Tim’s Pick: Kentucky

John’s Pick: Kentucky

8. Texas vs. 9. Wake Forest

John: Hey, remember when Texas was the No. 1 team in the country? Me neither. We actually discussed how the Texas of 2010 resembled the Wake Forest of 2009: The Longhorns were a team that got the #1 ranking without anyone ever believing they were the best team in the country. But neither of us thought Texas would slip as far as Wake Forest did last year and end up as low as a #4 seed… How naïve we were.

Tim: I suppose if I looked up one definition of an 8-9 game, it would be two underachieving teams meeting in the first round. Texas has underachieved more, but is also better.

Tim’s Pick: Texas

John’s Pick: Texas

5. Temple vs. 12. Cornell

Tim: As much as I like what Fran Dunphy has done with the Owls, it’s simply Cornell’s time—not only to win this one, but to advance all the way to the Sweet 16 behind Randy Wittman and Jeff Foote.

John: Cornell’s a trendy upset pick and, in Tim’s case, a trendy pick to get to the Sweet 16. But Temple is probably under-seeded at 5, and playing with a chip on their shoulder, the Owls will withstand the Big Red’s onslaught.

Tim’s Pick: Cornell

John’s Pick: Temple

4. Wisconsin vs. 13. Wofford

John: Look, I don’t think the Big Ten is a good conference. In fact, I think the Big Ten almost always deserves to get fewer teams in the Tournament than it actually does. Yet, somehow, Big Ten teams always do better than I expect, so I have Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

Tim: I suppose a lot of that comes down to coaching and an ability to execute in the halfcourt. I like the Terriers a lot (I thought they had beaten Wisconsin in a recent season, but apparently not), but I expect the Badgers to, well, execute in the halfcourt over the final five minutes to notch the victory.

Tim’s Pick: Wisconsin

John’s Pick: Wisconsin

6. Marquette vs. 11. Washington

John: Is Marquette going to blow Washington away? Of course not. The Golden Eagles have had a dozen games decided by three points or less, but at a certain point that tenacity ends up paying off. I see Marquette making it to the Sweet 16.

Tim: That makes two of us. The Golden Eagles create matchup problems with their lack of size, as Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler—maybe 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7, respectively—use their perimeter skills to stretch out defenses and open lanes to the basket and three-point looks for a deadly trio of sharpshooters. I think the Golden Eagles might do what West Virginia did back in 2005 in winning a few close games—until they run into the Mountaineers, that is.

Tim’s Pick: Marquette

John’s Pick: Marquette

3. New Mexico vs. 14. Montana

Tim: Montana’s got a few things going for it, like this whole Anthony Johnson character, a really tall coach in Wayne Tinkle, and the fact that its last NCAA Tournament win came against a western state school (Nevada in 2006). But New Mexico has Darington Hobson going for it.

John: I’ll be honest: I haven’t seen nearly as much of New Mexico as I have of any of the other 1-3 seeds, so I don’t feel at all comfortable judging the. Do I think the Lobos will advance far? No. Do I think the Lobos will lose to Montana? Of course not.

Tim’s Pick: New Mexico

John’s Pick: New Mexico

7. Clemson vs. 10. Missouri

John: This game should be really fun to watch—press vs. press. This year, the Big 12 has been better than the ACC, so I’m taking Missouri, whose record looks more impressive against better competition

Tim: Mirror images, right? They both press, they both have balanced offenses, they both have veteran coaches who are underrated nationally, they’re both the Tigers. But here’s the difference: Mike Anderson wins Tournament games; Oliver Purnell (0-5) doesn’t.

Tim’s Pick: Missouri

John’s Pick: Missouri

2. West Virginia vs. 15. Morgan State

John: As much as I hate Bob Huggins—who looks like a lazy gym teacher who’s only hanging on thanks to the liberal policies of public schools—the Mountaineers are the biggest challenge to Kentucky in this region.

Tim: WVU can’t like its draw here; either way, the Mountaineers will have their one weakness (no point guard) tested by a press. That said, the only questions about the first-round matchup are “How hard will Gus Johnson try to work in multiple, ‘The Butler did it!’ references to Da’Sean?” and “Will anyone on Morgan State try this again?”

Tim’s Pick: West Virginia

John’s Pick: West Virginia

Elite Eight

John: West Virginia over Wisconsin—I think the Wildcats’ youth and sloppiness will catch up to them quickly in this region, and I think that will leave West Virginia with a relatively east path to the Final Four.

Tim: West Virginia over Kentucky—What a detestable Regional Final, am I right? How many guys playing in this game will graduate? Maybe one? On the court, though, the Mountaineers will be physical with DeMarcus Cousins inside and John Wall outside, and the Butler will do it down the stretch with the game on the line.

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