Semi-Expert Elite 8 Predictions – South & Midwest [LIVE UPDATES]
I don’t care if I’m jinxing myself, I have predicted the winner in 6 straight, and was only two total points off the margin of victory for the two games yesterday. I’m like Hansel, I’m so hot right now. I didn’t end up seeing the Food Fight or whatever it’s called at the matinee showing yesterday, which is probably to credit for my continued success; and if today goes as well as yesterday, give the glory to the knockoff Apply Jacks I’m currently wolfing down. Since there are only two games today, just as yesterday, in addition to the scores/outcomes for the games, I will provide a bonus prediction. Also, since I was got half of my bonus predictions yesterday, I don’t count those in my total percentage of correct picks, because it could do damage to my ego.
In order of their tipoff time, here are my picks for today:
- Kentucky over Baylor 78-66 Hopefully I’m wrong in this, but I don’t see this as a great match up at all. Baylor relies on fast, athletic play from all positions- much like Kentucky. The difference? Kentucky is a lot better than Baylor- simple as that. Baylor will need Brady Heslip to make about 18 three-pointers if they want to put a legitimate scare into the Wildcats today, something which will not happen. Kentucky has great interior defense, led by the Uni-Brow, and if you try to beat them with speed and non-stop offense, they will smile, and beat you at your own game (see Indiana’s 102-90 loss). I see Kentucky leading by no less than half a dozen for the final 15 minutes of the game. Also, I hate Baylor’s uniforms immensely. [BONUS PREDICTION: Brady Heslip will make at least one 3-pointer, and whenever he finds success, or if they show reliance on him but he finds no success, Nantz will discuss how he is Canadian. I expect to hear the word, "Canada" or "Canadian" at least twice today. If either term gets dropped a third time, it will be a bonus we can all enjoy.]
**John Calipari has a great method of coaching I would enjoy emulating: have vastly better players who are incredibly more athletic then your opponents. It is very simple. Wildcats led by 20 at half and the game was pretty much decided when Kentucky went on their demoralizing run that began about 5 minutes into the game. Baylor had a great season and the Bears even made this one interesting when they cut the lead to ten with about a minute to go, but Kentucky is a vastly better team and Baylor was going to need Mike Eruzione and the game to be played on a large sheet of ice for them to have a legitimate shot at winning this one. I was spot on with the margin of victory, but free throws in the end upped the score a little bit, UK wins it 82-70. As for my bonus prediction, correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t hear Canada get a name-drop today… 1-0 for the day, 3-0 for the round, 45-14 overall, 76.27%**
- Kansas over North Carolina 68-63 This is a great matchup from a great matchup. Both teams had very difficult Sweet 16 games, UNC prevailing in OT over Ohio, and Kansas benefitting from a few final mishaps out of N.C. State. From the minute it was announced that Kendall Marshall, UNC’s starting point guard had a broken wrist, I said that the next best point guard in the tournament was Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor will control the game, and despite the way he was able to control the game down low against the Bobcats, Zeller of UNC will not be able to dominate against a freak athlete in Thomas Robinson. Those are the big two, the expected two, so this may not be ground-breaking, but I see Kansas winning, being led by Taylor and Robinson. [BONUS PREDICTION: The camera will show Kendall Marshall in his civvies at least six times. More if the game is close down the stretch.]
**Closing out with another correct prediction, Kansas ran away in the end, final score KU 80-67 over UNC. A lot more offense than I think anyone predicted in the first half (47-47), but the Jayhawks settled down and played great second half defense. Additionally, I think KU should have won by more than 13 as with about 10 minutes to go, it seemed evident that they were outplaying the Tar Heels in all facets, but not getting any breaks. What I mean by that is, Kansas was forcing turnovers, grabbing rebounds, but then bobbling the ball before they could even set up their offense. Were they to get on offense, they were having their way down low, but seemed unable to get any fortunate bounce off the rim. The two comments I made to my wife who was watching with me and tolerating the fact that I pretend to be the next Jay Bilas, was that at this point in the game, either Kansas will soon enough realize that they are outplaying UNC and run away with a ten point victory, or, UNC will take advantage of the Jayhawk missed opportunities and climb back into the game. The first was correct, Kansas continued to shut down UNC, holding them to only 20 points in the second half, and winning again, by 13 points. Completely tooting my own horn, I would like to point out that Kansas was led by Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor… just as I predicted. Also, regarding my bonus prediction, I think CBS showed Kendall Marshall more than six times. I stopped counting when they had already shown him three times within the first ten minutes of the game. 2-0 for the day, 4-0 for the round, 46-14 overall, 76.66%**
Three more games left in the tournament… if I get all three right, somebody should buy me a pizza. I’m very intrigued by this Final Four, all the teams but Ohio State seem to have an elite shot blocker, Kansas with Withey, Louisville with Dieng, Kentucky with Davis; that dominating kind of interior play should force for outside action, and if we get some hot-shooting perimeter action, expect some entertaining basketball. Of course, that’s all speculation- what do I even know? I’m just a semi-expert. A semi-expert with 76.66% accuracy. Be sure to come back on Saturday to see how well my picks are in the Final Four, and in the meantime, enjoy some good old-fashioned comedy.