After a few days of decompression, I am mentally preparing for Rounds Three and Four of the NCAA Tournament. Here are a few quick notes before I dive into tonight's picks...
- Ohio, usually known for its cold weather and twenty electoral votes, has become the center of the basketball universe. A quarter of the schools representing the 2012 Sweet Sixteen hail from the Buckeye State. Ohio residents haven't felt this good since Drew Carey Bobblehead Day at Progressive Field. A friend of mine, and Ohio native Thomas Dick, recently wrote about the anomaly on his Facebook page. "Now you know why I wasn't on the high school [basketball] team...Ohio basketball is cream of the crop...In some lame state like Rhode Island or Maine or California, I'm ballin' and shot-callin' on varsity...All-State y'all."
- Who did Clark Kellogg piss off to not be able to cover his son's game? One would think the necessary adjustments would be made in such a situation. I've watched the Lakers play, while Bill Walton covered the game. It doesn't seem like nepotism is an issue with parent's announcing their child's games. You would think he could have at least been given the Xavier/Lehigh game off to watch it. Instead he has to stare at the out of town scoreboard to figure out whether or not his son advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Not cool!
- In the next two days a number one seed will fall. Mark my words! Now if you ask me which game this will occur in, I would have no idea. I am just playing simple percentages. If I had to take an educated guess I would say Wisconsin will knock off Syracuse. (More on that in a bit.)
- My wife is currently kicking my ass in our annual bracket competition. When I first published my initial article, I caught some heat from the Misses, who did not enjoy my comment about not asking the wife for help, while filling out your bracket. I had no intention of demeaning women in any way. It was merely a lesson in always going with your first choice. The wifey did not see it that way, and has proceeded to kick my ass round after painful round. (In my defense, my wife is a former Division One player and assistant coach...still, not an excuse.)
Now onto the predictions for Round Three:
#1 Kentucky vs. #4 Indiana
Experts have been saying this game has potential for an upset. I whole-heartedly disagree. I think this may be a blow out. Kentucky is young and arrogant. Although as a player, you have to put tough losses in the back of your mind...Kentucky's loss in Indiana stayed in the front. Now they have a chance to extract their revenge. Kentucky will make the necessary adjustments and put this game away early.
#3 Baylor vs. #10 Xavier
Fact, Xavier is playing like the team who was ranked 17th in the nation during the preseason. Fact, Baylor is playing like the 9th best team in the nation. This game will come down to Xavier's ability to defend the perimeter. In the end, Baylor may be too much for the Musketeers.
I am rooting hard for Xavier in this game, strictly so my LCD will last a few more years. I don't know all the nuances of high definition television, but I can imagine obscenely bright uniforms and shoe laces make my television sad.
#1 Michigan State vs. # 4 Louisville
This one comes down to simple arithmetic...Tom Izzo > Rick Pitino. Draymond Green > Peyton Siva. Michigan State > Louisville. Simple as that.
#3 Marquette vs. #7 Florida
Marquette may be wishing Norfolk State didn't knock off Missouri. Now they have a tough matchup against Florida. The Gators have been extremely impressive so far and haven't even shot the ball that well. If they cure their shooting woes tonight, Marquette may be in trouble.
#1 Syracuse vs. # 4 Wisconsin
I'm going to go out on a limb here and give this game my upset special of the night. Wisconsin has terrific shooters who love to stretch out zones. Syracuse plays a zone which loves to stifle opponents. If Wisconsin continues to shoot the ball like they have, the Badgers will move on to the Elite Eight.
#2 Ohio State vs. #6 Cincinnati
Yancy Gates and Jared Sullinger ask the question... What happens when an unstoppable force, meets an immovable object? Answer that one and you will figure out the outcome of this game. Ask me and I will tell you, Ohio State.
#1 UNC vs. #13 Ohio
Do you know what happened at the end of Cinderella? She died. Just kidding, but I think Ohio's title run will.
#2 Kansas vs. #11 NC State
Kansas may be too deep and talented for the Wolfpack. I think this will be an exciting game, but the way I look at it...If Robbie Hummel can go off for Purdue like he did against Kansas, and still lose, expect the Jayhawks to move on to the Elite Eight.