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Tim’s Thursday Picks

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m 36-12 in this NCAA Tournament; last time I checked that’s 75 percent. That means you can take three of these four picks to the bank. Which one doesn’t come through? Well, that’s the beauty of the Tournament, isn’t it?

1. Syracuse vs. 5. Butler

Original: Syracuse over Butler

What I’ve Learned: The Orange are just fine without Arinze Onuaku, and the Bulldogs continue to survive with Matt Howard in foul trouble. Howard has been in foul trouble in just about every big-time game Butler has played all season, and the Bulldogs responded on Saturday by going small and matching Murray State’s athleticism. The problem is, they can’t afford to go small against Syracuse, even if the Orange don’t have Onuaku. Howard needs to stay on the floor and be a presence inside; it wasn’t too long ago he was Horizon Player of the Year and the standard for old-fashioned, interior fundamentals—a mantle usurped last weekend by Omar Samhan. In order for Butler to win, Howard needs to demand attention on the block, Gordon Hayward needs to announce his presence on a national stage with a 20-10 kind of game, and Shelvin Mack and Co. have to shoot lights-out from the perimeter. I can see two of those things happening, but not all three.

The Pick: Syracuse Continue reading