John Picks the Saturday Games

After a dismal 18-14 First Round (and a 6-10 first day!), John S tries to redeem himself in Round 2 by carefully detailing what he learned:

10 Saint Mary’s vs. 2 Villanova

Original Pick: Villanova over Richmond

What I’ve Learned: I’m going to give myself some credit for this one: After all, I didn’t fall into the trap of picking Richmond to make the Sweet 16, like a lot of people did. After the First Round I had, that counts as a win. Although, I did say that people were underestimating Villanova, and the Wildcats barely snuck by Robert Morris, and even then only with the help of some friendly calls. I have faith, though, that a Jay Wright-coached team won’t pull that shit twice in a row.

New Pick: I’m still sticking with my guns and picking Villanova to make the Sweet 16.

13 Murray State vs. 5 Butler

Original Pick: Vanderbilt over UTEP

What I’ve Learned: The Racers are as good as Obama thinks they are! Also, I’m an idiot for putting Vanderbilt in my Sweet 16. Butler actually looked like the experienced, poised team it ought to be in the second half on Thursday, so I’ll take them in Round 2.

New Pick: Butler

14 Ohio vs. 6 Tennessee

Original Pick: Georgetown over San Diego State

What I’ve Learned: Tim was right all along about the Hoyas. OK, I don’t really think that—Georgetown was an inconsistent team all year long, but I certainly wasn’t alone in thinking it had the talent to make an Elite Eight run. Although this was the worst loss for my bracket, it’s not nearly the one I feel the dumbest about. I actually feel worse about abandoning Coach Bruce Pearl and the Volunteers.

New Pick: Tennessee

9 Northern Iowa vs. 1 Kansas

Original Pick: Kansas over UNLV

What I’ve Learned: Kansas may not be as good as I thought. Somewhat overlooked in all of Thursday’s excitement was how long Lehigh hung with the Jayhawks. It’s not new for a No. 1 overall seed to struggle in Round 1, and it certainly doesn’t spell doom for Kansas, but given the rough road ahead of them, it’s inauspicious. Meanwhile, the Panthers win shows once again how important controlling the tempo can be in the Tournament.

New Pick: Kansas

11 Old Dominion vs. 3 Baylor

Original Pick: Nortre Dame over Baylor

What I’ve Learned: The Big East is not as good as I thought it was. What a pathetic performance; other than Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh, every team from that conference underachieved embarrassingly in the First Round. The Fighting Irish played an ugly, sloppy game, and, of all my dumb predictions, the thing that might look the stupidest now is my claim that Nortre Dame would thrive by incorporating Luke Harangody into the fold.

New Pick: Baylor

11 Washington vs. 3 New Mexico

Original Pick: Marquette over New Mexico

What I’ve Learned: See Above.

New Pick: New Mexico

7 BYU vs. 2 Kansas State

Original Pick: Kansas State over Florida

What I’ve Learned: The Wildcats were maybe the most impressive team in Round 1, in the sense of outperforming expectations. I expected them to be the most vulnerable of 1- and 2-seeds, but they had no trouble dispatching North Texas. At the same time, BYU is the sentimental pick—I really want to see them play in Salt Lake City.

New Pick: BYU

9 Wake Forest vs. 1 Kentucky

Original Pick: Texas over Kentucky

What I’ve Learned: Just because a team used to be ranked No. 1 doesn’t mean that it is any good now. The truth is that the Wake Forest/Texas game was very exciting and even, but it became clear that to me at some point that neither team could really beat the Wildcats unless UK played a miserable game—which is certainly possible. But not likely.

New Pick: Kentucky

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