Now that the
First Second Round will officially begin later today, it’s time to give a full breakdown of what I see going on to get us to the Round of 32.
I see the top two seeds of Louisville and Duke having no issues moving on and I already mentioned Michigan State, but the fun really begins with the 4/13 and the 5/12 games in this region.
(13) New Mexico St. has a 7-foot-5 center named Sim Bhullar who will most certainly cause the (4) Saint Louis Billikens trouble inside. Bhullar is worth checking this game out regardless, but I don’t think that he will be able to lead the Aggies to the next round. This game will be close but Saint Louis moves on with a scare.
As for (5) Oklahoma State they get ‘rewarded’ with Pac-12 tournament champions (12) Oregon in the first round. Oregon lost all momentum when point guard Dominic Artis went down with an injury, but have played much better since his return as they won the Pac-12 tourney. The Cowboys have a dynamic point guard of their own in freshman Marcus Smart, but I think that the hot team in Oregon will prevail in the upset.
As for the rest of the bracket I think Memphis sneaks by Saint Mary’s to give coach Josh Pastner his first tourney win, Creighton wins over Cincinnati and Missouri beats Colorado State in an ‘upset’ in the 8/9 game.
Once again the top two, Gonzaga and Ohio State, should have no problems moving on, but an interesting game is in store for (3) New Mexico against (14) Harvard. The Lobos face the Ivy League champs in a battle of strengths. New Mexico doesn’t allow teams to shoot well from the field while Harvard is one of the best in the nation from behind the arc. If the Crimson get hot they could pull an upset, but I think New Mexico will wear them down inside and pull out a close win.
Another good matchup is going to be (6) Arizona against (11) Belmont. The Wildcats looked great early on in the season and then seemed to lose their way in the middle of the season, much like Michigan, before finishing up mediocre, again like Michigan. The Bruins are a dangerous team and one many people are picking to move on to the next round, myself include. Belmont for the win.
As for the rest of the bracket, Kansas State and Wisconsin should win in a similar, grind-it-out manner, while (10) Iowa State and (9) Wichita State should ‘upset’ the (7)Irish of Notre Dame and the (8) Pittsburgh Panthers.
I have been down on Kansas all season, but they won’t lose here, along with Georgetown. Florida should handle Northwestern State and as I said earlier in the week, Michigan should also move on.
One of the more interesting games in the
first (damn, I’ll never get this right) second round is (6) UCLA as an underdog to (11) Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have been all over the board this year, with wins over MSU, Indiana and Memphis while also managing to lose seven of their last 10 games this season. As they have shown against the Spartans and Hoosiers, they can play with the best and I don’t trust Shabazz and co. to show up for this one, Minnesota in an upset (or is it?)
The 8/9 game features two teams who just didn’t show up most of the year in (8) North Carolina and (9) Villanova. Both teams struggled most of the year but can never be overlooked. This game should come down to which team gets hot, and I think that will be Villanova in a close one.
As for the rest, I see VCU running away from Akron and San Diego St. beating Oklahoma in a really close game.
Indiana and Miami are really strong teams and should have no problem moving on. Marquette should get by a pesky Davidson squad, but I see that game being close going into halftime.
(6) Butler received no favors in (11) Bucknell. The Bison are a really strong team on both ends of the court and will be a real problem for the Bulldogs. Remember that Butler beat two number one seeds already this season in Gonzaga and Indiana so they can play with anyone, but I think the Cinderella this season is going to be Bucknell moving on in a game that might not be close.
The 5/12 game is actually a rematch of earlier in the season when (5) UNLV defeated the (12) Cal Golden Bears at Cal. I think that Cal is a sneaky pick to go from a major conference to defeat the ‘mid-major’ of UNLV, but the Mountain West may have been better than the Pac-12 this year, with both conferences getting five teams in. In the end UNLV wins again and moves on to the next round.
To finish out the bracket I think that NC State beats Temple, Syracuse gets by Montana and Illinois actually plays well and beats Colorado.