Wow, what a day!
16 games over the course of about 12 hours. There is no better spectacle in sports than the first two days of the NCAA Tournament.
Don’t worry, just because I’ve already made the bracket predictions doesn’t mean I plan on leaving you hanging. I will be predicting the games in each and every round. What makes me so special? Don’t fret, it’s not like I am actually changing a submitted bracket.
Thanks to CBS Sports.com, your bracket is no longer destroyed just because Ohio State lost. They have a round-by-round bracket challenge that these predictions could come in handy for!
(2) Wisconsin vs. (7) Oregon at Milwaukee, WI: The Badgers got their largest tournament win in school history with the domination of the American Eagle(s). American had a 19-13 lead about halfway through the first half, then proceeded to score just 16 more points in the last 30 minutes. The Ducks, like their UW counterparts, just wore out BYU. The Cougars went cold late in the second half, and Oregon pulled away. In one of my four brackets, I have Oregon winning this one. They have a lot going against them, such as Madison being about an hour and a half away from Milwaukee, but as the Ducks showed against BYU, they have superior athletes. I think they still have the better athletes even when matched up against the Badgers. Oregon will need to dictate tempo, and try to wear out Wisconsin, something that is not as easy as it has been in previous years. (Pick: Wisconsin)
(4) San Diego State vs. (12) North Dakota State at Spokane, WA: The Aztecs survived a pesky New Mexico State team. As good as that game was though, it couldn’t match the first game of the evening session. Buddy Hield was cold all night. Enter Cameron Clark who had a huge second half to send the game into overtime. The Bison led nearly wire-to-wire before eight straight Sooner points under two minutes left. The Bison rallied back to tie the game. Oklahoma had three chances to win outright with under 10 seconds left in regulation, but couldn’t pull it off. The Bison showed why they had the best shooting percentage in the whole NCAA tonight. That, coupled with a below average Sooner defense, spelled doom for Oklahoma in overtime. Clark had a helluva game, but we (I’m a Sooners fan, if you can’t tell) needed something from someone else and didn’t get it. That said, I’m glad we played a good game, and if we had to lose, I am glad that it was the Bison that did it. They are a really good team, and will provide all sorts of issues for San Diego State. The Aztecs match up much better with Oklahoma than the sharpshooters from North Dakota State. (Pick: North Dakota State)
(2) Michigan vs. (7) Texas at Milwaukee, WI: Ugh. The Michigan-Wofford game was ugly. There wasn’t enough alcohol in the entire bar to turn that 2 into a 10. Neither team shot well. Michigan’s defense harrassed the poor undermanned Terriers the entire game, so despite Michigan’s inability to make shots, the game was never in doubt. Wow! What a game it was in the nightcap in Milwaukee though! It made up for the yawner in the opening of the evening session. Texas outlasted a very good Arizona State team in a game that was close nearly the whole time. Texas did manage to open up a 14-point second-half lead before letting the Sun Devils back in it. Texas looked better than Michigan did, and I’m starting to wish I had taken the Bevos here. If Michigan goes cold against Texas, they are in a lot of trouble. Can they really shoot that poorly two games in a row? I have my doubts. (Pick: Michigan)
(4) Louisville vs. (5) Saint Louis at Orlando, FL: Of all the five seeds, I figured the Billikens were the most likely to lose, and they looked like they were going to follow suit. North Carolina State blew a 16-point second-half lead. Saint Louis got hot from outside to mount a furious comeback and send the game to overtime, where the same fate that befell St. Joe’s would now curse the Wolfpack. They looked gassed. They couldn’t get much on their jumpers, and had no support for T.J. Warren. He was a one man gang for most of the game. Louisville survived against a good Manhattan team. They needed a comeback just like Saint Louis did, though it wasn’t from near as big of a deficit. Manhattan outplayed Louisville for the first 16 minutes of the second half before the Cardinals’ sharpshooters took over from outside. As for the second round, Manhattan might be better than Saint Louis. They are definitely playing better right now. (Pick: Louisville)
(1) Florida vs. (9) Pittsburgh at Orlando, FL: Florida had their hands full with Albany. They never could quite shake the Great Danes, who played an inspiring game for future 16 seeds. In the end, Florida just had too much size, and too many athletes. As for Pitt, they destroyed the poor, hapless Ralphies. This game was over within the first five minutes, as Pitt jumped out to a 22-6 lead and never let off the gas. Truth be told, Colorado might not be much better than Albany with Spencer Dinwiddie out, and they certainly weren’t anywhere near as inspired as Albany was. Pitt is the kind of team that can give Florida some problems. That was two straight very close calls for the Gators. This will be a third. Ultimately, this is a road game for Pitt, and the Great Danes woke Florida up. (Pick: Florida)
(3) Syracuse vs. (11) Dayton at Buffalo, NY: I filled out four brackets this year, and I had Dayton in two of them. Of course, those were the two I did that were not for money. My bracket for the billion was still intact after this one, though it would be quashed soon after. So it goes, I guess. The Orange put on an absolute clinic against an overmatched Western Michigan team. Syracuse’s terrible finish will be partially overshadowed by this game. If you pick Syracuse to go the Sweet 16, your bracket should be looking good right now. I only had the Orange going that far in one of them. Dayton should put up more of a fight than the Broncos did, but I still don’t know if they have the athletes to stick around. (Pick: Syracuse)
(2) Villanova vs. (7) Connecticut at Buffalo, NY: The Wildcats survived a poor first half, running away from the Panthers in the second half. ‘Nova’s shooting issues didn’t follow them into the second half and they were finally able to pull away. How bad was Villanova’s shooting? They started 0-of-16 from downtown. No, that is not a typo. St. Joe’s controlled the game from almost start to finish before UConn finally woke up offensively late in the second half. It looked like the Hawks just ran out of gas down the stretch. They had no legs on their jumpers anymore. The game was much closer than the score indicated, though — UConn put up a bunch of empty-net free throws in the extra five. Honestly, Connecticut looked better than Villanova. The old Big East foes meet in what will be a tough game for Villanova. Connecticut’s guard play was fantastic for the last seven minutes or so, and continued into the overtime period. The Husky guards will give ‘Nova all kinds of fits. (Pick: Connecticut)
(4) Michigan State vs. (12) Harvard at Spokane, WA: Michigan State had to deal with a Delaware team that just would not go away no matter how much of a run Sparty went on. It finally came down to Delaware not having the guards to keep up with Michigan State, and Adrien Payne was a matchup nightmare the entire game. He set a new Michigan State tournament record with 41 points against the Blue Hens. There was a reason that I picked Harvard in all four of my brackets. This is bascially the same team, plus another weapon, that sent New Mexico packing in last year’s tournament. Harvard is well coached and played smart. Cincinnati tried to force too many shots and they wound up playing from behind for almost the entire game. Harvard won the game despite not shooting great from the field or the foul line. They won’t be able to get away with that tomorrow. I think Harvard is disciplined enough to stay with Michigan State, but is anyone playing better than the Spartans right now? (Pick: Michigan State)
» Come back to Fantasy CPR tomorrow and check out my picks for Sunday’s Round of 32 NCAA Tournament games!