#1 Memphis over #16 TX-Arlington: The Tigers have been kicking the piss out of bad teams all year, no reason for that to stop
#8 Mississippi State over #9 Oregon: Another contrast type game, as Miss State is one of the best defensive teams in the country, but is mediocre offensively, and Oregon is a quality offensive team, but is the worst defensive team in the tournament other than 15 & 16 seeds. You know what they say, defense wins championships - and first round games. Plus the Bulldogs' Jarvas Varnardo (4.6 blocks per game) is everything I always wanted Antoine Broxsie to be.
#12 Temple over #5 Michigan State: Can anybody get a read on the Spartans? I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose here, or make the Elite 8. With this matchup, and the Spartans late struggles away from East Lansing, I'm taking the Owls here. The Spartans road record in the Big Ten was 3-7, which included losses at Iowa and Penn State - but not at Minnesota, of course not). This game is in Denver, not East Lansing, which can only hurt MSU. Both teams play a slow pace, which helps Temple. The game should stay close, where the new found confidence of the Owls after winning the A-10 will put them over the top.
#4 Pitt over #13 Oral Roberts: Over the last few years Oral Roberts (O, R U?) has been a threat to knock off their first round opponents, but the scoring punch of Ken Tutt and Caleb Green has graduated and, despite having rolled through the Summit, I see no more threat here.
#6 Marquette over #11 Kentucky: It seems a lot of people are picking the Wildcats in an upset here, and those people are dead wrong. Sure, Kentucky was hot to end the season, but that was mostly adrenaline after the loss of Patrick Patterson. Look back, during that run they only beat one tournament caliber team, and that was Arkansas. It's a cliche that guard play is the key in March, but it's a cliche because it's true, and the Golden Eagles sport three great ones in Dominic James, Wes Matthews, and Jerel McNeal. Plus, look for former Minnesota boy Trevor Mbakwe to get some time.
#3 Stanford over #14 Cornell: I have no idea how Cornell is going to have a prayer against the twin giants, Brook and Robin Lopez. They do have one decent seven footer, but Stanford has two, and one is a star. Cornell will have to pray the threes are falling, and they do shoot 41% as a team, so there's an outside chance at a miracle - but Stanford is pretty solid defending the three.
#10 St Mary's vs. #7 Miami: Never believed in Miami all year, and don't think they're very good. St. Mary's, on the other hand, is good offensively, defensively, on the perimeter, and in the paint. In case you think I'm crazy, the Gaels rank better than the Hurricanes in both offensive and defensive efficiency. So there.
#2 Texas vs. #15 Austin Peay: The Longhorns do seem to have a tendency to let teams hang around, so Peay might have a decent first half. Once Texas wakes up, however, this one won't be close.
#1 Memphis over #8 Mississippi State: Remember all that good stuff I wrote up there about MSU's defense? Well, Memphis is better. And much, much better offensively.
#4 Pitt over #12 Temple: Too of the hottest teams heading into the tournament. Pitt was basically a final four contender earlier in the year before Fields got hurt. Now he's back, and they're rolling. No reason for that to stop, not against Temple at least.
#6 Marquette over #3 Stanford: Maybe the most interesting game of the tournament, and a game I almost wrote how I hoped it happened before the bracket even came out. Marquette has maybe the best group of guards in the tournament, but their big men are pretty average. Stanford has the towering twosome of twins, but their perimeter guys mostly suck. Quite a clash here, but I'm giving the edge to the guards.
#2 Texas over #10 St Marys: I mentioned earlier that St Mary's was a solid, balanced team - and they are, but the Longhorns are even better. They aren't very deep, but they, like Marquette, sport three quality guards, and DJ Augustine is one of the best in the country.
#4 Pitt over #1 Memphis: This is the game I've flip flopped on most in the whole tournament. I like Memphis, hell, I love Memphis, but their miserable free throw shooting and mediocre three point shooting are going to catch up to them at some point, and this seems like it. A tough, physical Pitt team who is on fire right now will turn this game into a grinding slugfest. Neither team turns it over much, so odds are it turns into a halfcourt game. These combinations of factors lead me to believe the Panthers will have the Tigers number.
#2 Texas over #6 Marquette: Buckle up. The three Marquette guards against the three Texas guards will be one for the ages. Texas has a slight advantage in the paint, while Marquette has more depth. Should be a great, great game, but in the end I see Augustine and company being just too good for the Golden Eagles.
#2 Texas over #4 Pitt: Pitts style that will work so well against Memphis is very similar to how Texas plays, and will work to the Longhorns advantage. I don't see anybody on Pitt who can keep up with Augustine, and when he drives he'll suck the defense in, leaving Abrams and company open all game long, as the Longhorns head to the Final Four.