It feels like it’s going to be another huge basketball weekend, but there are only 12 games total on the slate. Compare that to 48 last week and we’re looking at exactly 1/4 of the hysteria. Or, will these games be four times better than the ones from the first two rounds? I’m leaning toward the latter scenario. We’ve got marquee matchups and charismatic underdogs. If you want to be surprised about what happens–don’t read on…
Marquette (+5.5) vs. Miami
Who I’m Rooting For: Marquette. I’ve rooted for Miami exactly one time in my life. Their football team lost to Nebraska, Penn State finished #2 in the polls, and I went back to hating. I like certain players from Miami, but never the Hurricanes as a whole.
The Pick: Miami. Marquette has been surviving with last second buckets against middle (?) tier competition? They’re not clicking well enough to beat Miami, who isn’t showing any signs of taking teams lightly. Unless the Hurricanes get off the plane in fatigues, take The U.
Arizona (+3.5) vs. Ohio State.
Who I’m Rooting For: Arizona. I find myself occasionally coming back to Arizona, and now that the Chase Budinger era is officially over, I think I have to take the Wildcats over Ohio State, who is currently poisoned by their association with Evan Turner. Philadelphia thanks you for that gift.
The Pick: Ohio State. Arizona beat Belmont and Harvard. No offense to those titans of the hardwood, but this is a massive step up in competition. Assuming the Buckeyes don’t shoot 24%, this could get awfully ugly.
Syracuse (+5.5) vs. Indiana.
Who I’m Rooting For: Derek Coleman/Billy Owens/Carmelo/Sherm Douglas vs. Damon Bailey/Steve Alford/Calbert Cheaney/Alan Henderson. Notice that I left of McNamara and Devendorf? I pretend like they never went to Syracuse, and with no Bob Knight to root for, I’ll go Orange.
The Pick: Indiana. Crean vs. Boeheim. Gulp. The Temple game summed up the fears about the Hoosiers. The Owls were playing with Khalif Wyatt and four speed bumps and still should have won that game. Indiana allegedly is one of the best teams in the country. That carries them to at least one more ugly win.
LaSalle (+4) vs. Wichita St.
Who I’m Rooting For: LaSalle. I saw a LaSalle grad talking this week about LaSalle finally showing some life on the basketball court. I guess they don’t teach alums that LaSalle was once the “East Coast UCLA,” has won a National title and produced two of the better players in the history of college basketball: Tom Gola and Lionel Simmons. Personally, I haven’t been on the LaSalle wagon since that team with the L-Train that went 29-1 during the regular season.
The Pick: Wichita St. Considering I didn’t pick LaSalle to escape the 1st round, there is no way I would risk jinxing the Southwest Philly Floater.
Oregon (+10) vs. Louisville.
Who I’m Rooting For: Oregon. Rick Pitino is the worst. Wouldn’t it be nice if college coaches who failed in the pros didn’t automatically go straight back to premier college jobs?
The Pick: Louisville. I may have drastically underestimated Louisville. They lost to Villanova during the regular season and I assumed they were just another #1 placeholder, but perhaps not. Oregon has run out of spite, this is a huge line, all signs point to a blowout.
Michigan (+2) vs. Kansas.
Who I’m Rooting For: Michigan. I can’t remember the last time I picked the final game correctly, but I used to do it with some regularity. The game was so predictable in the 90s. I had Michigan/UNC in 1993. Still recovering from that one, but in my mind the Fab Five still exists.
The Pick: Michigan. The Wolverines look good. The line is a little low. It’s time for a #1 seed to go down.
Michigan St. (+2) vs. Duke.
Who I’m Rooting For: Duke. No one, except people who go to Duke, roots for Duke. But, what’s so great about Michigan State? Aren’t they like Duke just a bit less successful? Tom Izzo doesn’t look like enough like a rodent? Mateen Cleaves was one court slap away from being Wojo.
The Pick: Duke. I was worried about Duke when they were only favored by 5 points against Creighton, but that turned into a 16-point laugher. Unless both Plumlees get big minutes, this should be an easy winner.
Florida Gulf Coast (+13) vs. Florida.
Who I’m Rooting For: FGCU. I’m finally going to get to see “Dunk City.” Did I miss the show? We’ll see.
The Pick: FGCU. Still getting no respect. I guess the general consensus is FGCU is going to eventually run out of steam. Eventually someone will crack the code that Lipscomb used to beat them during the regular season. With plenty of time to prepare–Florida is going to be ready. But, FGCU is pretty athletic, they have a good point guard and you know they’re going to come out with plenty of confidence. Should be able to keep it under a dozen.