If there was any remaining doubt that this was the best NCAA Tournament ever, last night’s Xavier-KSU game (which I declared would not be close) should have cemented that status. Anyway, here are some more picks you can take to the bank….
2 Ohio State vs. 6 Tennessee
Original Pick: Georgetown over Ohio State
What I’ve Learned: Obviously, if the Volunteers are going to win this game, they are going to have to shut down Ohio State’s leading scorer in this Tournament: Jon Diebler. Diebler tore up UC-Santa Barbara in the First Round, dropping 23 points, and everyone knows that as goes Diebler, so go the Buckeyes. In all seriousness, Evan Turner has been the best player in college basketball this year and—notwithstanding what Denis Clemente, Terrell, Holloway, Jordan Crawford and Jacob Pullen all did at various points last night—the player who can most take over a game in this Tournament. Thanks to Georgetown’s early loss, Tennessee got to face Ohio in Round 2 and dispatched them fairly easilyafter struggling against San Diego State. But the fact that the Volunteers haven’t played a good team yet should make anyone wary of their ability to contain Turner.
The Pick: Ohio State Continue reading
Three-for-four. Three-for-four. Man, I churn out three-for-four nights like a Little League All-Star. Of course, I knew I was going to get ONE game wrong last night; I didn’t know which. It turned out to be the game I was most confident in with my pick, as Syracuse (my national champion) looked listless early and panicked late. A disappointing showing by the Orange, although it keeps alive the Butler storyline, which I’ve been harping all year.
So again, with a 39-13 record in this Tournament, you know I’ve got three of these right. But which one isn’t?
5. Michigan State vs. 9. Northern Iowa
Original: Kansas over Maryland
What I’ve Learned: I was pretty confident that KU would lose eventually and that when it did, it would likely be because Sherron Collins tried to do too much. Of course, I didn’t think it would happen in the second round, and even then, I had UNLV in the second round. But to say that Northern Iowa’s win over the Jayhawks is one of the biggest upsets in Tournament history ignores the fact that the Panthers are a very good team that has lost only four times all season—and one of those was without Jordan Eglseder. UNI is like Cornell in that it can beat you inside and out on the offensive end; the Panthers, however, are one of the nation’s best defensive teams and capable of forcing any team into playing their tempo.
Michigan State’s win over Maryland—without Kalin Lucas and Chris Allen—only proved Tom Izzo’s coaching wizardry once more. The Spartans had no business winning that game, but they did. There are two reasons to pick State in this one: Izzo and the idea that UNI might be overwhelmed by the media attention in the last week. There are more reasons, however, to pick the Panthers: Their win over Kansas wasn’t as big a fluke as portrayed and their defense will certainly dictate tempo to a team playing without its point guard and leader.
The Pick: Northern Iowa Continue reading