Tim’s Saturday Picks

When you compare my second-round picks to John’s, you’ll notice a small but significant change in diction; namely, he uses “New Pick” whereas I use “The Pick.” This is because I had my most successful first round I can remember, going 24-8 and losing only two Sweet 16 teams. My hunches on Old Dominion, Cornell, and Murray State (and even on Wisconsin struggling but surviving) all played out to plan. Even my vindictive decision to knock out Georgetown in the second round has paid off.

What does this mean? Well, basically that what you’re about to read is going to be all wrong. Everything I based my first-round picks on will destruct in the second round. BYU will not be able to make a jump shot or its free throws, Cornell will forget to go inside to Jeff Foote, and Butler’s crisp execution will be enough to trump UTEP’s athleticism but not Murray State’s. If the Tournament were a game of poker, I’d be trying to buy out now.

But at 24-8, I’m pot-committed.

2. Villanova vs. 10. Saint Mary’s

Original: Richmond over Villanova

What I’ve Learned: If you made a list of the three most impressive first-round teams, the Gaels would have to be on it (behind Ohio and Cornell). Omar Samhan was dominant (and I mean dominant) in limited minutes, and Saint Mary’s surrounded him with four dead-eye shooters. The Wildcats were taken to the brink by a Robert Morris squad that didn’t even have it’s A game and saved by what could best be described as dubious officiating. The Gaels have played two excellent games against solid competition back-to-back; Villanova hasn’t played one in over a month. Tough to turn it on now.

The Pick: Saint Mary’s

5. Butler vs. 13. Murray State

Original: Butler over Murray State

What I’ve Learned: I was right about the Racers all along, as you can’t go wrong with two guys named Isaiah. Butler put on a shooting clinic in the second half against UTEP, and I don’t think Murray State’s perimeter athleticism will fluster the Bulldogs.

The Pick: Butler

6. Tennessee vs. 14. Ohio

Original: Tennessee over Georgetown

What I’ve Learned: Georgetown could be blitzed the same way it blitzed Duke and Villanova this season. Ohio put together what had to be one of the greatest offensive performances by a double-digit seed this side of Loyola Marymount. But can you really expect the Bobcats to do it again—this time against a pressure defense that can rotate plenty of guys in?

The Pick: Tennessee

1. Kansas vs. 9. Northern Iowa

Original: Kansas over UNLV

What I’ve Learned: Ali Farokhmenesh is more than just a cool name. Oh, and he looks whiter than his name suggests. Other than that, not a whole lot.

The Pick: Kansas

3. Baylor vs. 11. Old Dominion

Original: Baylor over Old Dominion

What I’ve Learned: I was right not to trust Scott Drew and the Bears, who came out uninspired and overconfident in their first-round game with Sam Houston State. ODU, though, doesn’t possess the offense to stick with Baylor for 40 minutes or shoot the Bears out of their 2-3 zone, and the odds of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter laying another egg are slim and none.

The Pick: Baylor

3. New Mexico vs. 11. Washington

Original: Marquette over New Mexico

What I’ve Learned: The Golden Eagles are one of two Sweet 16 teams I lost, falling in the final seconds to Washington—a fitting end to their season (and not nearly as embarrassing as John seems to think [and the same can be said for Notre Dame’s loss]). Darington Hobson injured his wrist in the Lobos’ survival of Montana, but New Mexico was exposed on the interior. This is the Saturday game nobody cares about and nobody will see and somewhat coincidentally, I don’t really know what to expect. In that case, I’m going with the team that has a bit of a home-court edge in the Huskies.

The Pick: Washington

2. Kansas State vs. 7. BYU

Original: BYU over Kansas State

What I’ve Learned: I already knew about Jimmer Fredette. Now you do, too, after Seth Davis turned his name into a verb on Thursday. At the same time, I didn’t think Jimmer’s backup was going to pour in 26 more (that’s right, the Cougars received 63 points Thursday from the point guard position) and that BYU would still require 10 extra minutes to dispatch Florida. K-State looked like it belonged on the 2-line, but Fredette and Co. will make the Wildcats pay for their aggressive defense on the foul line (the Cougars shoot it as well as anyone from the stripe), and I trust their shooters on the perimeter more than I do Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente.

The Pick: BYU

1. Kentucky vs. 9. Wake Forest

Original: Kentucky over Texas

What I’ve Learned: The physicists at Sport Science have proven that it is physically impossible to stay in front of Ishmael Smith. Smith’s buzzer beater late Thursday was a thing of beauty; how many last-second shots go through the net that smoothly? I expect Smith to continue to get in the middle of the lane, but he’ll have a harder time finishing against DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, and his tendency to turn the ball over on the perimeter will lead to those deadly John Wall runouts.

The Pick: Kentucky

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