Semi-Expert March Madness Picks – Day 2 [LIVE UPDATES]
The first 16 games are in the bag and after Day 1, I went 13-3, with three games boasting correctly predicted margin of victory. The pessimistic side of me says that I will probably proceed to go 8-8 and be nowhere near accurate with my score predictions- but as the day goes, we shall see. In order of their tip-off times, here are today's games, complete with my predicted scores, and small explanations of why I made the picks:
- Cincinnati over Texas 65-61 I like this Texas team and I like J'Covan Brown. This should be an incredible opening game for day 2- I think the Bearcats are ranked too high and the Longhorns are ranked a little too low, but this Cincinnati has a starting five that scores just under 60 ppg. That's tough.
**Starting the day off right. Cincinnati won 65-59... Not too shabby. 1-0 on the day, 14-3 overall 82.3%.**
- San Diego State over North Carolina State 66-59 This is another tough game to pick but I think Steve Fisher is a better coach boasting more experience and sway over his team than does Mark Gottfried of North Carolina State. Wolfpack have a shot- they're a solid scoring machine who have been hot at times this season- Aztecs pull away late with free throws.
**Sigh. San Diego State scored 65- I was close there. Too bad they didn't play defense, giving up 20 more than I predicted. Mountain West teams are unaccustomed to opponents with this kind of offense, though I'm holding by my belief that this does not mean their defenses are worse than we were hyping them as all season long. After a good and certainly surprising season, San Diego pitched a gutter ball in the dance. Yes, I did just mention dancing, bowling and pitching in a metaphor about a disappointing performance from a basketball team. What of it? 1-1 on the day, 14-4 overall, 77.7%**
- Creighton over Alabama 74-62 Doug McDermott is a machine- if Creighton can shoot like they did through the first 2/3 of the regular season, watch for the Bluejays to make some noise this year.
**The award for worst coaching in the 2012 NCAA D-1 Men's Basketball Tournament goes to... Anthony Grant of Alabama- a clock mismanagement followed by barely drawing up a play. The shooter was fouled, but that's besides the point- during your timeout, you draw up a plan to run against a zone and you run up a play to run against man-to-man. That aside, Creighton let Alabama dictate the pace of this game until they started to catch-up. 23 points in the first half for the Bluejays is not their game at all. In the second half though, when they started running, they scored 35, which makes me prediction of 74 in the game look a lot better. Creighton was the better team, and this game was much closer than it should've been. Jays win 58-57. 2-1 for the day, 15-4 overall, 78.9%.**
- Virginia over Florida 68-56 Gators are good but Billy Donovan hasn't been able to provide a solid core of players (or even a moderate collection of respectable players like the millenium run) since the back-to-back championships half a decade ago. Virginia was under-appreciated all year in a good conference, playing every big game close and even winning a few.
**Virginia tied a season low in points scored today- they also had 15 fewer rebounds than Florida. Neither team had outside shooting success, but Florida had incredible dominance in the paint. Saddening to see Virginia make little/no effort in the final few minutes, but I can't say I blame them. Few shots were going down- I can scarcely imagine how disheartening it was. Cavaliers get mauled by alligators- final score: Florida 71 - Virginia 45. #Ouch. #Disappointing. 2-2 for the day, 15-5 overall, 75%**
- Florida State over St. Bonaventure 70-55 The Bonnies have a guy named Andrew Nicholson who reminds me a lot of DeJuan Blair, only with jumping ability. The dude notched 26 points, 14 boards and 8 blocks in the conference tournament final against Xavier. Sadly, Seminoles are better than the Musketeers- FSU makes a run this year.
**I made it sound a lot easier for the Seminoles than it ended up being. St. Bonaventure played valiantly, but about 5 minutes into the second half, Florida State remembered that they were in fact the better team, so after clawing their way back into it, they prevailed. The Bonnies had an opportunity in the end to go for a three-pointer to tie the game, but instead opted to miss a shot from inside the lane. Don't ask me why. Due to the Florida State absence from the first half, my score was way off- related note- FSU was out of it offensively and defensively and the Bon-Bons hit a number of tremendous outside shots to maintain momentum and their lead throughout the first half, thus propelling their score from what I think it should have been. Final score: FSU 66 - St. Bonaventure 63. 3-2 for the day, 16-5 over all, 76.19%**
- Georgetown over Belmont 68-58 This is one of my least favorite seedings/pairings of the first round because the Bulldogs did not deserve a 3 seed. Belmont likes to run- and even though I am not sold on Georgetown, I'm sold enough to credit their defense with the ability to slow down Belmont.
**Much more offense than I expected, but in the end, Georgetown's defense looked to have worn out the Bruins, creating a lot of bad Bruins decisions, which became turnovers, which became transition Bulldog points. The final score was Georgetown 74 - Belmot 59. 4-2 for the day, 17-5 overall, 77.27%**
- North Carolina over Vermont 83-50 Go Cats. Vermont might put a scare in the Tarheels if they don't miss a shot for the first ten minutes, but they unfortunately have to play 40 minutes, and UNC will not be the first #1 to fall to a #16.
**My home state team did much better than I expected. Really hung tough for 3/4 of the first half and then didn't give in as badly as Virginia did, despite having the outcome decided. Not much more to say, UNC took the final score 77-58. 5-2 for the day, 18-5 overall, .782**
- Missouri over Norfolk State 77-60 Spartans had an impressive run to make their first tournament, but the Tigers of Missouri are my favorite to win it all.
**Cinderella lives in Norfolk (but plays in Omaha). For the 5th time in the history of the expanded bracket, a #15 has upset a #2. I even said that the Tigers were my favorite to win it all because I love solid guard play to carry teams in the tournament- but Missouri played about as poorly as a team can while scoring 84 points. In the end, maybe 4 guards isn't a great thing. I'm not even mad that my champion pick is out- Go Spartans. #NorfolkState. 5-3 for the day, 18-6 overall, .75**
- Memphis over Saint Louis 74-66 Both teams like to run- this could be a fun game to watch. I like Memphis- it's impressive to me what Josh Pastner has done with this program to maintain relevance despite Calipari's departure to Kentucky. They won't get past the "3rd" round, but they'll do solid today.
**As I half-expected, today is not as accurate in my predictions as was yesterday. This game clinched my 4th loss with still 7 yet to conclude (I only had 3 incorrect picks yesterday). My first thought upon watching this game was, "Rick Majerus is still alive?" And upon wikipedia-ing him to verify that he was in fact alive, I sat astonished, with the knowledge that he is still alive. The living Majerus proved today that he still had it, leading the Billikens (one of my all time favorite nicknames), to a 61-54 victory. 5-4 for the day, 18-7 overall, 72%**
- Ohio over Michigan 65-61 Michigan stumbled in their last game, looking incredibly flat against Ohio State. Bobcats aren't anything compared to the Buckeyes, so this game will assuredly be more competitive, but I became sold on Ohio U. after they made the miracle run two years ago. Also, in my home, Michigan has an alternative spelling that beging with an F. UPSET ALERT!
**Final score was Ohio 65, Michigan 60. Take that. 6-4 on the day. 19-7 overall, 73%**
- Duke over Lehigh 88-64 Duke is playing a home game. (Essentially)
**Lehigh upsets Duke and wins 75-70! Greatest day in March Madness history? I would say so. In the history of the expanded bracket, there had only been four 15 seeds who had ever advanced into the second round. Forget about history. Two of them won today. Wow. I know some people judge the tournament on their ability to win money from their bracket, and despite the fact that I'm writing about my predictions for the tournament, and keeping track of my accuracy, I encourage upsets (as long as those upsets don't involve Michigan, Colorado State or BYU winning) I think that tournament quality enhances with the unlikelihood of the upset. Who cares if I'm just over .500 for the day (6-5), this is great television. 19-8 overall, 70.3%**
- Purdue over St. Mary's 63-59 St. Mary's had a great run to take the WAC title, but Purdue is playing with heart. I have Purdue winning a close one for their leader, Robbie Hummel.
**Called the upset! More offense than I predicted, but the competitiveness was there. 72-69 was the final score with the Boilermakers on top, so I was 1 away from the final margin of victory, I'll take it. 7-5 for the day now, 20-8 overall, 71.4%**
- Michigan State over Long Island 76-49 I'll be damned if Izzo doesn't make his team play some tremendous defense today. Long Island will be long-ing to go home before the first half is over.
**156 combined points and many of them came from LIU. My prediction about defense was less than accurate- Izzo's boys did not look convincing until they ran away in the second half, winning 89-67. Let's be clear- the second half turnaround in Sparty's play wasn't because of them changing what they had been doing through the first 20 minutes, it was because Michigan State is much more athletic than Long Island. Michigan State is going to have to step their game up if they want to make this tournament run a memorable one. Tom Izzo is their coach- they will. 8-5 on the day, 21-8 overall 72.4%**
- South Florida over Temple 68-60 I am now picking with reckless abandon. Yesterday, I predicted that no #12 seed would advance this year. While I am still tremendously mad at Wichita State, their loss seems to have pushed me off the ledge.
**Temple was a lot flatter than I expected, in fact both teams were- scoring only 34 combined points in the first half, but USF prevailed 58-44. I think South Florida would have scored more had they gone without that miserable first half, and if they hadn't sputtered for a 4-5 minute stretch in the game's final ten minutes. 9-5 on the day, 22-8 overall. 73.33%**
- Xavier over Notre Dame 69-64 Notre Dame has been competitive all year, but I think Xavier will play with hunger after falling to the Bonnies in their conference tournament. You're welcome Tu Holloway.
**Not at all how I foresaw this one going but my score was ridiculously close with Xavier winning 67-63. Tu Holloway is a stud- hear that Doc Watson? <--- I don't even care if Holloway is not from Tennessee or if Xavier is in Ohio, that's a great song. Solid come from behind win for the Musketeers, and for Blue Bob. 10-5 on the day, 23-8 overall, 74.19%**
- Kansas over Detroit 83-61 Detroit will have a courageous few minutes until reality will set in.
**Detroit is a tough team, and they made Kansas play much slower than I think they would have preferred this game to be played, but Jayhawks rocked and chalked to a 65-50 victory; a score that belongs in the Mountain West. This being the final game of the day, I conclude Day 2 with a 11-5 record, and I conclude the round of 64 with a 24-8 record, 75%.**