Tuesday, March 17, 2009
#1 North Carolina over #16 Radford. Second biggest margin of victory in the whole tournament.
#9 Butler over #8 LSU. Seems odd that LSU would be favored over Butler, but I suppose with Butler losing in the Horizon tournament it makes some sense. One interesting fun fact I found is that Butler relies on making free throws a lot in order to score their points. If LSU can keep from fouling them, they might take this one.
#12 Western Kentucky over #5 Illinois. I have a feeling this is going to be a popular pick after WKU's run to the sweet 16 last year, but I have to go ahead and make it as well. The Illinois offense is just way too unpredictable, and can go for far too long periods of time for them to make a run in the tournament, and it wouldn't be shocking for them to go dead on offense right away in the first round, especially with Chester Frazier banged up. WKU isn't a particularly great defensive squad, but I don't know that you have to be to shut down the crapass Illini.
#4 Gonzaga over #13 Akron. I almost took the Zips here, really I did. They play very good defense, and are one of the best in the country at turning their opponents over. Unfortunately, I can't get past my love for Gonzaga this year. I think they are absolutely one of the best teams in the country this year. Austin Daye might be one of my favorite players and he and Heytveldt for a great tandem in the paint (and outside it) when Heytveldt isn't high, and both Heytveldt and Bouldin shoot over 50% from the field - and Bouldin is a guard. With Pargo running things, the Bulldogs could go far.
#6 Arizona State over #11 Temple. Rich Harden and Jeff Pendergaph are absolutely one of the best NBA Jam style tandems in the country. Temple has some weirdo named Christmas.
#3 Syracuse over #14 Stephen F. Austin. Shouldn't be an issue for the Orange, and I stress shouldn't be. There are a couple of reasons things could get dicey, however. SFA is one of the slowest teams in the country, and also one of the best defensively, holding opponents to just 28% shooting from three and 42% from two. Those are awesome numbers. If they can keep the Orange from scoring, they aren't the most disciplined team in the world and could implode. Of course, those gaudy defensive numbers come from a team with a Strength of Schedule that was 219th in the country, but hey, it could happen.
#10 Michigan over #7 Clemson. Doesn't Clemson seem like the kind of team that would choke here? And doesn't Manny Harris seem like exactly the type of player to raise his game on the big stage?
#2 Oklahoma over #15 Morgan State. This will be the biggest margin of victory in the entire tournament.
#1 North Carolina over #9 Butler. Butler is cute, really they are, but they aren't nearly as good as last year and will be exposed in a huge way by the juggernaut that is the Tar Heels. Of course, if Lawson can't play or something, this gets a whole lot more interesting.
#4 Gonzaga over #12 Western Kentucky. As I said above, I love the Zags this year.
#6 Arizona State over #3 Syracuse. This is going to be a barn burner. I've gone back and forth on this one about ten times, and I just can't make up my mind. Right now, I'm feeling Arizona State will be able to take it, based simply on how good James Harden is.
#2 Oklahoma over #10 Michigan. The Wolverines have zero answer for stupid Blake Griffin. Not even a little bit.
#4 Gonzaga over #1 North Carolina. Seriously, I really like Gonzaga this year. I also don't like the matchup for the Heels, who I pretty much had in my final four all season long until about five minutes ago. Just looking at numbers, North Carolina relies heavily on the two-point shot over the three pointer, and the Bulldogs are awesome at defending the two - their only defensive weakness lies in defending the three which is not going to be a major factor. Neither team turns it over, and both offenses are incredibly efficient. UNC relies on the free throw line to get a ton of it's points (if you watched Hansbrough you know this), but Gonzaga is one of the best at not fouling. As long as the Bulldogs can keep them off the o-boards, they can win. I think they do it. Look out for Austin "All" Day baby.
#2 Oklahoma over #6 Arizona State. Griffin and the Sooners face a good post man here for the first time, but he's also all kinds of the wrong matchup for the Sun Devils. Jeff Pendergaph is a skilled big man, but he doesn't have the strength or size to handle Griffin. I know I keep emphasizing Blake, but seriously, he's pretty much the whole team.
#4 Gonzaga over #2 Oklahoma. The Sooners finally run into a team that can deal with Griffin in the Bulldgos and Josh Heytveldt. If Gonzaga has a defensive weakness, it's quick guards with some size, and Willie Warren will end up being the key to this game more so than Griffin. I think Pargo can handle him, and I think the Zags finally break through and make their elusive first final four appearance.