#1 UCLA over #16 Mississippi Valley State: MV State would have been in the
#8 BYU over #9 Texas A&M: It is really hard to stop dwelling on Texas A&M's horrid game against Oklahoma where they scored a total of 37 points, which I watched at the Knight Cap, which is probably where I'll be again before the Maryland/Gopher game because I and my family are alcoholics. Where was I? Oh yeah, BYU wins in a toughie, as both teams rank in the top 20 in defensive efficiency.
#12 Western Kentucky over #5 Drake: Both teams are very good both offensively and defensively. Both teams rely on guards to do almost all their scoring and are very small all the way around. The difference will lie in WKU's athleticism, where they hold a big advantage over Drake. Because Drake is full of white guys.
#4 UCONN over #13 San Diego: San Diego (means "Whale's Vagina") pretty much topped out beating St. Mary's and Gonzaga back-to-back to win the West Coast Conference Tournament. As impressive as that is, it was also on their home court. San Diego is not a very good offensive team, whereas UCONN is terrific defensively. Brandon Johnson of USD might be good enough to give AJ Price some trouble, but the Toreros have no answer to the size UCONN brings, as well as the athleticism of the other guards.
#6 Purdue over #11 Baylor: Baylor could easily win this game, but I just don't see how they can handle the bigger Boilermakers. Baylor is another team that relies on it's guards for almost everything, with Kevin Rogers the only major contributor over 6-4. Purdue counters with a lot more size, and still have the quickness to handle the guards of Baylor. An interesting matchup, as Purdue is great defensively and mediocre on offense, while Baylor is stellar with the ball, but mediocre at best on the defensive end. The Bears have a couple seven footers who don't play a ton, but they could be the key if Baylor wants to win. Expect Purdue to win the rebounding battle, and the game.
#3 Xavier over #14 Georgia: I think the ride ends for Georgia here, as they run into an absolutely stellar Xavier squad. The Musketeers are balanced (6 players average double-digit points), can shoot (four players over 40% three pointers), and are senior led (3 senior starters have been to the tournament three straight years). Expect a deep run.
#10 Arizona over #7 West Virginia: I fully expect this to be a popular pick, since Arizona was one of the toughest teams in the country when fully healthy - guards Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise missed quite a few games. But I can't go against it. West Virginia is basically a mirage of a team, going 3-8 against the top 50. Assuming Arizona can handle Joe Alexander, and I think they can, they should be able to knock off WVU.
#2 Duke over #15 Belmont: Belmont has wins at both Alabama and Cincinnati this year, and rolled through the Atlantic Sun, so they're pretty solid for a fifteen seed. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Duke ranks in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and can come out and blitz teams in a hurry. Belmont is pretty poor defensively, and won't be able to keep up with the Blue Devils.
#1 UCLA over #8 BYU: BYU is an excellent defensive team, but UCLA is better. UCLA is also a top offensive team, while the Cougars are not. BYU is solid along the frontline and bring a lot of size, but the Bruins can counter with Love (assuming the back is ok), Dragovic, Mata-Real, Aboya, Mbah a Moute (assuming he's not hurt), and even Keefe. And the Cougars have absolutely nobody who can even come close to thinking about being able to handle Westbrook or Collison.
#4 UCONN over #13 Western Kentucky: My first instinct was actually to pick WKU here, if you can't tell, I'm a fan, but after some reflection, UCONN is clearly the pick here. As I mentioned, the Hilltoppers are very guard oriented, and the Huskies can counter with AJ Price, Doug Wiggins, Jerome Dyson, and Craig Austrie. Plus, the Huskies have the size of Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and Stanley Robinson, for whom WKU has no answer.
#3 Xavier over #6 Purdue: Xavier is really, really good. Purdue only made it to round two because they caught a fortunate matchup against Baylor. Both teams are solid defensively, and deep, but the Musketeers are better offensively and much, much, much, much, much more talented. Plus, CJ Anderson is the freakin' man.
#10 Arizona over #2 Duke: I very fortunate matchup if you're an Arizona fan. If you're going to face one of the 2 seeds, you want the Blue Devils. Arizona is not a very good team down low, which is fine here, because Duke has no inside presence at all - Jordan Hill, Arizona's center, will destroy the Devils in the paint. Duke's strength is their perimeter shooting, but the Wildcats have enough quickness to close out on Duke's shooters. If that's not enough, Duke has struggled all year against quick guards, and Bayless is as quick as you'll find.
#1 UCLA over #4 UCONN: Sorry UCONN. Although I think they are a stellar team, UCLA can counter their height, and outquick their guards. One of the Huskies biggest advantages is rebounding, and they rank 16th in rebounding margin this season. Bad news for them, UCLA ranks third.
#3 Xavier over #10 Arizona: Both teams play a patient style, and both excel on both ends of the floor so this should be an excellent game. Xavier guards Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell matchup very well against Wise and Bayless, and can take away a lot of Arizona's offensive options, as Budinger and Hill will struggle to get going if the guards can't get it started. Xavier has plenty of options to score against the Wildcats.
#1 UCLA over #3 Xavier: The Musketeers finally run into a team they can't handle with the Bruins. Although Burrell will give Westbrook fits, I don't think Lavender can handle Collison and that will open things up for all the other Bruin options. ON defense, I don't see a single matchup where Xavier will have an advantage against UCLA, and the Bruins are much deeper.