March Madness is in full gear as just today we hear word of Tim Tebow going to the Jets than later we find out the deal hits a snag and isn’t completed, now we here he is indeed going to NY. Also Sean Payton is suspended a year for their bounty program and the Saints lose two draft picks as well. But let’s stick to what March Madness is really all about and that’s the NCAA Tournament.
#1 Kentucky vs #4 Indiana
I think it’s pretty clear that Kentucky is the most talented team in the tournament. Anthony Davis reminds of a Bill Russell type player and there is no other player in College Basketball like him and there hasn’t been in a long time. This team just has weapons all over the court with Teague, Jones, Lamb, Miller and Kidd-Gilchrist. The Wildcats will be looking to avenge their 1 point loss against Indiana earlier in the year and will most definitely have revenge on their mind.
The first time I got a look at Indiana I was very impressed. No real stars on the team, although Freshmen Cody Zeller is an emerging player, but overall Indiana is just a solid, cohesive team. I love the way they move the and shoot the basketball. Vegas has the Hoosiers as a 9 point dog, but I think Indiana keeps it closer than that. A lot of people think Kentucky will blow them out this time around, but I disagree. I think Indiana will scare Kentucky once again, but in the end Anthony Davis, Terrance Jones will be the difference makers as John Calipari continues his quest for his first National Championship. Prediction: Kentucky 72 Indiana 67
# 3 Baylor vs #10 Xavier
If it wasn’t for Brady Heslip reigning in 9 three-balls and being on absolute fire, Baylor might of lost to 11th seeded Colorado. So far Baylor has beaten South Dakota State and a Colorado team team that had to win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to make it to the big dance. Perry Jones and Quincy Acy really haven’t done anything in this tournament and Jones hasn’t shown up in big games all year. Let’s see with a week off if Baylor can keep up their hot shooting.
Xavier seems to make a run every year in the tournament. This year they are back again, led by star guard Tu Holloway. Xavier has wins over a weak Notre Dame team and a 15th seeded Lehigh squad. The Great White Hope, Kenny Frease had a monster game inside against Lehigh for the Musketeers going for 25 points, but going against Jones and Acy he will not repeat those numbers. The best player on the court is Holloway, but can he score enough and can Mark Lyons be a solid sidekick to Holloway?. Xavier’s Freshmen Guard Dezmine Wells is also questionable for this game after spraining his big toe against Lehigh. I think Xavier keeps it close and with the leadership of Holloway squeaks out a victory. Prediction: Xavier 67 Baylor 61
#1 Michigan State vs #4 Louisville
Izzo is back again with another well-balanced and deep team. Draymond Green is arguably the most well-rounded player in the country and has developed bigtime since he was a Freshmen. The team has size with Green, Nix and Payne, they have the shooters in Woods, Thornton and Green and a good point guard in Keith Appling. This is just a very sound team all-around and they will be extremely tough to take down.
Rick Pitino is doing a great coaching job this season in a year where he doesn’t really have a ton of talent. PG Peyon Siva had a terrific Big East tournament leading the Cardinals to the title and has played fairly well in the field of 64. Louisville is good defensively with the big man Dieng in the middle, but they lack a little bit offensively. I think Michigan State just is better all-around and all though this game might be close for a time, I expect the Spartans to pull away towards the middle of the 2nd half. Prediction: Michigan State 70 Lousiville 61
#3 Marquette vs #10 Florida
Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder are two very physical, athletic, talented players. There is no doubt that this combination has the goods to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Coach Buzz Williams has done a great job with this team.
Florida is led by Senior Erving Walker and Junior Kenny Boynton who love to toss up the three ball, but at times can take some bad shots. Freshmen Bradley Beal has been excellent and the team has size with Patric Young and Eric Murphy who can play inside out. These two teams love to get up and down, so this will be one of the better games to watch. Marquette has the two best players, but Florida has more weapons. This is a tough game to call, but I think Marquette squeaks out a victory and advances to the Elite 8 to take on Michigan State. Prediction Marquette 79, Florida 76
#1 Syracuse vs #4 Wisconsin
Sex scandals, drug scandals, education scandals, Syracuse has been surrounded with controversy all season. But they have overcome it and find themselves two games away from the Final Four. Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph were pretty bad down the stretch of the season and in the Big East tournament, but I liked their intensity last game against Kansas State. The Fab Melo loss I believe is a bit overrated as James Southerland, Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche can all fill his void. This team is loaded with talent and they have seemed to put the distractions behind them.
Wisconsin will try to slow Cuse down with their slow methodical offense, but they can be a threat from three led by their star guard Jordan Taylor. Although Taylor’s scoring is down about 4 points from last year he is setting the rock up for other teammates and they are contributing. Bo Ryan is tough defensive minded coach and they will probably give Cuse a scare, but the Orange’s talent will show eventually and they will take over this game. Prediction: Cuse 69 Wisconsin 62
#2 Ohio State vs #6 Cincinnati
DeShaun Thomas has been excellent and has been one of the best scorers in the tournament. Jared Sullinger has maintained his physical presence down low and William Buford is another athletic, solid scorer for the Buckeyes. The X-factor here will probably be Aaron Craft who stepped up last game offensively with 17 points. If he can continue that type of production, then Ohio State is going to be extremely tough to deal with.
The Bearcats have played outstanding towards the end of the year. It started in the Big East tournament when they beat Syracuse until they finally fell in the Championship to Louisville, but this team is coming together at the perfect time. They always had the talent but now Mick Cronin has them flowing. They match up very well with Ohio State and this will be a tough defensive game. Cincy has an array of scorers between Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick, Jaquon Parker and even Yancy Gates. They are long, athletic and they are going to give Ohio State a battle. A very tough game to pick, I’m going to go with the Bearcats as I believe they frustrate Ohio State defensively and pull of the upset. Prediction Cincinnati 65 Ohio State 64
#1 North Carolina vs #13 Ohio
North Carolina just gained back John Henson, now they might be without Kendall Marshall. Reports were today that Marshall cast came off, that is a good sign, but realistically can he play just 4 days after surgery?. I suppose there is a chance, but it all depends on how much he can deal with the pain. I think he sits most of the game out against Ohio and will play if they advance. Carolina lacks a solid 3-point shooting attack but they make up for it inside with Henson and Zeller. Also Harrison Barnes is capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor and is easily a top 5 player in the country.
Ohio beat a good Michigan team and a decent South Florida team, but North Carolina is a different animal even without Marshall. Ohio Guard DJ Cooper might be able to keep the Bobcats in it for a stretch, but expect Carolina to control this game throughout and eventually win in the double digits. Prediction: North Carolina 83 Ohio 69
#2 Kansas vs #11 North Carolina State
I’ve always believed Kansas was a bit vulnerable coming into this tournament and that almost proved true when Purdue nearly knocked them off last round. Tyshawn Taylor has had his best year at Kansas, but he still remains somewhat erratic at times, although incredibly talented. Thomas Robinson is a problem obviously, but he isn’t an unstoppable force down low. Elijah Johnson needs to continue to step up for this team if they want to advance to the Elite 8.
I love this N.C. State team. I am a G’town fan and was extremely worried about their matchup with the Wolfpack and I don’t think it was an upset at all when they lost. C.J. Leslie is a future NBA player and Lorenzo Brown is a very crafty, smart and capable point guard. This team is dangerous and they are playing their best basketball of the year. I think N.C. State pulls the upset here, although to me it won’t be one. Prediction: N.C. State 78, Kansas 75
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