Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Note on the First Round (Atlanta)

Again I realize that my normal readers are looking at this and wondering what in the world has got into the King, but, hey, it's a three week period each year that I get all awash in the Madness. So here are the first round picks. Yep, all 32 games.

Atlanta Regional

#1 Duke over #16 Southern--I want to pick a sixteen seed over a one seed, but, c'mon, this is not the year to do it. This game will be tight for about 10 minutes but by the end of the first half, the Dukies should be up by 15-18 points and cruising. Look for Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts to get a lot of time on the floor in the blowout, just to get some experience.

#9 NC-Wilmington over #8 George Washington--This is a trendy pick considering Pops Mensa-Bonsu is questionable, but even if he is healthy, I like the Seahawks. They have a lot of senior leadership and they are balanced. GW has also struggled down the stretch, even before their loss in the A-10 tourney.

#5 Syracuse over #12 Texas A&M--This is one of those dangerous 5/12 matchups that look like it could be an upset, but let's look at a few numbers. Texas A&M went 10-1 in their nonconference schedule but played total cupcakes and all at home, except their one loss at Pacific. Yes, they are on a roll, but outside of a win against Texas they really haven't played a tough schedule the last few weeks either. As for Syracuse, look for a letdown after the Big East tourney, but they should be good enough to squeak this one out against a bad Aggie team.

#4 LSU over #13 Iona--I think this could be a big upset in the making as I like Iona a lot and LSU has been a product of a down SEC this year, but I see two games that tell me LSU should handle this. They beat West Virginia on the road and they had a one point loss at UConn. Sure they lost at Northern Iowa, but they handled their business in the SEC and that should carry them here. Also, Iona has struggled down the stretch. Look for this to be close, but I like the Tigers.

#6 West Virginia over #11 Southern Illinois--Another game tagged as an upset special, but I wonder just how good the MVC is. This Saluki team lost to a Div. II school early in the season and got beat by Monmouth as well. They are dangerous, but they are also vulnerable. To wit, they lost to La Tech in the Bracket Buster. As for West Virginia, they are coming in with the same cast as last year and that is a big plus. They might be overconfident, but they have some leadership and some shooters. I'll take them if only because I like saying Pittsnogle.

#14 Northwestern State over #3 Iowa--Yes, I know the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten tourney title and the Big Ten was one of the top conferences in the country, but I can't help feeling that they are ripe for a letdown. I like that NW State won early games on the road at Oregon State, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State and they also gave Utah State a heck of a game in Logan before falling at the end. They have a lot of senior leadership (as does Iowa) and I like them to pull the biggest upset in the first round.

#10 NC State over #7 Cal--A tough call. Cal has played well down the stretch and Powe is a beast in the middle and the Wolfpack has struggled mightily, BUT I like Herb Sendek and if you give him a full week to neutralize the big man in the middle, I think he can do it, especially because he has fouls to burn and Powe will have to guard Evtimov on the perimeter. It's all about matchups in this one and I'm going with Herbie.

#2 Texas over #15 Penn--A matchup nightmare for the Quakers as I think the quickness and height of the Longhorns will make this a big blowout. It could be close at half if and only if the Quakers shoot lights out. I don't think so.

There you have it folks. On to Oakland.

#1 Memphis over #16 Oral Roberts--I am not that enamored with the Tigers but Oral Roberts has floundered this season after a promising start. In the end, Calipari should have no problem advancing.

#8 Arkansas over #9 Bucknell--Another trendy upset pick where one team has overachieved and the other is a middle of the pack power conference team, but I will stick with the power conference here. It is tough when expectations are so much higher (just ask Gonzaga) and I think that Arkansas will see themselves as the underdog and come out motivated. Hey, we are still talking the Patriot League here.

#5 Pittsburgh over #12 Kent State--I'm not sold on the MVC and I am sold on Carl Krausser. Pittsburgh could lay claim to a higher seed than this and I like that they will have a chip on their shoulder.

#4 Kansas over #13 Bradley--Another upset special, but Kansas just has too much talent not to win and with last years Bucknell debacle, Coach Self will have his kids ready for this. Critics may point to Kansas' lack of experience but with them I think it is a good thing, they can't overthink things. This will be close at half but look for the better athletes to take over in the second half.

#6 Indiana over #11 San Diego State--My heart says SDSU but my head tells me Marco Killingsworth will cause Abukar and Slaughter to get in to foul trouble. I am going with the Hoosiers on the emotion as well. They will win one or two games in this tournament for Coach Davis. Come to think of it, shouldn't Steve Fisher be retiring here soon.

#3 Gonzaga over #14 Xavier--Yes, the Zags have struggled in the WCC and have squeaked by on occasion, but they are a dangerous team with veterans and a seasoned coach. They also will be playing in SLC where they will have a home crowd advantage. It will take them a half to work out the jitters but look for Derek Raivio to break out of his shooting slump when the doubling down occurs on Batista and Morrison.

#7 Marquette over #10 Alabama--I don't really like either team to go very far but I think Marquette has the better individual player in Novak, so I'll pick them. It is interesting though that Marquette lost to Winthrop and Alabama beat them. This is really a toss up for me.

#2 UCLA over Belmont--In a blowout of epic proportions. UCLA is really rolling right now and I think Ben Howland has them in a real confident place. I like UCLA to go a long way in this one.

Whew, on to D.C.

#1 Connecticut over #16 Albany--UConn gives everyone terrible matchup problems and this should be no exception. Look for Rudy Gay to get his 20 and then sit down for the second half.

#9 UAB over #8 Kentucky--Kentucky has been so incredibly inconsistent this year that this could be a blowout either way. I'll take UAB however, because I like the run-and-gun style that they play and the fact that, outside of Rajan Rondo, Kentucky's assist-to-turnover ratio is atrocious. I think they will overplay Rondo and force someone else to handle the ball. Should he get ahold of it, though...

#5 Washington over #12 Utah State--This will be an interesting contrast of style game with the Huskies blitzing up and down the floor and the Aggies slowing it down with Harris and Carroll. I think Stew Morrill is a basketball genius, but they couldn't handle a quick guard last year in Salim Stoudamire, (although they held Arizona to only 66 points) and I don't think they can do it this year either. Too close for Husky fans, but they squeak by.

#4 Illinois over #13 Air Force--Basketball purists will again be attracted to this game, but in the end they will see Illinois dominate things inside. I am a Mountain West apologist, but even I think Cincy and Fla State were robbed. Air Force is a nice story, but one that will end promptly.

#6 Michigan State over #11 George Mason--Which MSU team will show up? The one that got clobbered at Hawaii early on or the one that pounded BC the following week? The one that won three straight against ranked Big 10 teams in the middle of the season or the one that lost 5 of 7 down the stretch? I am betting on the former and Tom Izzo setting these guys on a mission. Lastly, who did George Mason beat? Manhattan on the road, that's who. And a tired Wichita State team late. Not too impressive. Hofstra had a better resume.

#3 UNC over #14 Murray State--I want to see this be an upset, but UNC is soooooo talented. They will not lose this early in this tournament. Maybe in the next round but not this one.

#7 Wichita State over #10 Seton Hall--The exception to the rule. The MVC will win one and this is the one they'll get. Seton Hall is a mediocre team that got the bid 'cause they beat Cincy the last week of the season, but they really don't scare anyone. A two point loss at Northwestern and a bad loss at Richmond early on attest to that. No, the Shockers aren't much to look at this year either but I like them here.

#2 Tennessee over #15 Winthrop--Two words...Bruce Pearl. They are the most vulnerable #2 seed, but I just think Pearl is the funnest coach in this thing and he will have his boys motivated and excited. Don't think I haven't seen what Winthrop is capable of, but Tennessee has the horses to make a run in this thing and the Eagles won't be able to top them.

Almost there...Minneapolis

#1 Villanova over #16 Monmouth--This could be a teaser for a half before Villanova decides they should just spank this club. It will be another style game with Monmouth playing deliberately and Villanova chomping at the bit, but Villanova will run and run and run and overwhelm the already tired Hawks.

#8 Arizona over #9 Wisconsin--Toss a coin. Neither team has shown itself to be consistent and neither team really shoots the ball worth a darn. I will take Lute Olson if only because I like his hair.

#5 Nevada over #12 Montana--Could be a closer game than expected. The other Coach K is a great fit in Montana and has his guys playing very well now but Nevada ruled the roost in a very difficult WAC and should get by on the strength of Mo Charlo and Nick Fazekas.

#13 Pacific over #4 Boston College--I am taking a real flyer on this one because of the SLC factor. Teams struggle with the altitude and BC will be flying across the country to an arena that will have a West Coast bias. Add to that the success of Pacific last year and I think this is an upset special. Of course, the Eagles are the better team, but I have to pick upsets and this is it.

#6 Oklahoma over #11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee--Taj Gray will not let the Sooners blow this one. Yes, the prognosticators like this one to be an upset, but I just think the big man will have his day. They won't make it past the next round but they will not lose here.

#3 Florida over #14 South Alabama--Florida might win the whole thing. They are big and strong and quick. I don't see them floundering here despite their inconsistency in the big dance the last several years.

#7 Georgetown over #10 Northern Iowa--MVC goes 1-3 will be the headline on Saturday morning and Billy Packer will be smiling, but I just think any team that handles Duke like they did will win a first round game in the NCAA's.

#2 Ohio State over #15 Davidson--Ohio State kind of snuck up on me this year. They can shoot it and they are capable of making a deep run in this tourney. The Davidson kids scare me cause they've been here before knocking on the gate, but they struggled in their conference and the Buckeyes did not. Close for a half before the Buckeyes screw down the clamps and run away with it.

Thank you everyone for indulging my habit.


Anonymous The Wizard of Wilkeworld said...

Oh King, Oh King, what are you doing. You write just like a tout, or bookie, or whatever. You don't seem very daring. You chose one upset, Pacific over Boston College. I am choosing BC to be in the final four. All the rest you went with the favorites. Not very daring are you? I believe there will be more upset this year than ever. There are some good teams lurking around the 11th and 12th seeks of all brackets. Again I am so not techno. I have a hard time getting into the yahoo sight to make my picks. Oh well I will be able to call the upsets much better this way. ha-ha-ha......

3:51 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Ouch, you disrespect Kent State to the point where you don't even know what conference they are in (it's the MAC by the way). Keep in the last time Pitt played KSU in the NCAA's tournament Kent won, not to mention Pitt got bounced by a 13 seed last year.

6:30 AM  
Blogger K Jones said...

Scooter, good points about the Golden Flashes. I guess I lump Kent State with all those MVC teams because they all come from the same basic area and they are essentially the same basic team with no quality wins. I realize that Pitt got bounced last year...all the more reason to think they won't this year.

6:36 AM  
Blogger K Jones said...

Wizard, I also picked NW State over Iowa. That's got to be an upset somewhere.

6:38 AM  
Blogger The Wife said...

Nice one Scooter, I love it when someone puts the King in his place when it comes to sports. I won't even watch professional basketball with him. Do you know how annoying it is for him to tell you what college every player went to through the whole game.

And as for the rest of the post, I think I speak for most of the other readers when I say...Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Le laquet said...

Bore da, ydych chi'n siarad Saesneg?
Parlez vous Anglais?
Sprechen sie Englisch?

etc .....

7:54 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Basket ball is not my sport, so I have "No Comment".

9:45 PM  

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