Semi-Expert March Madness Picks
As an avid fan, pick-up enthusiast, prolific television watcher and former MVP from a 5th-6th grade basketball team, I consider myself the perfect person to help you make picks through this year's NCAA Division 1, Men's Basketball Tournament. In order of the games to be played today, here are my picks, complete with scores:
- Murray State over CSU 68-62 Sorry Ram fans, however, I'm not sorry at all.
**Final score was in fact 58-41 Murray State. Racers didn't bring their 'A' game to the first half, and Rams didn't play at all in the second half. Though I'm confident that if both teams had played to their potential, my score prediction would've been closer, I still called the winner.**
- Southern Miss over Kansas State 71-64 Wildcats were competitive, yet nowhere near dominant in a conference that had the greatest disparity from top to bottom in my book.
**I have no excuse for this one. Southern Miss took a lot of bad shots and subsequently had a lousy percentage from the field, but they still hit 6 more three-pointers than K-State AND out rebounded the Wildcats. Kansas State did make the most out of the charity stripe opportunities however, getting 14 more free throws than the Golden Eagles- they also had respectable ball movement, 12 assists on only 21 made field goals. I currently have a .500 record.**
- Louisville over Davidson 75-68 Speed kills.
**I should get some credit here for correctly picking the margin of victory as Louisville won this one 69-62. Louisville scored whenever they needed to, and Davidson did well despite shooting so poorly. A young team with guts and gusto, watch out for Davidson in the coming years, but in the coming rounds, Louisville could be a team to watch as well. Well coached teams + strong guard play = March Madness success. Peyton Siva has the opportunity to make some magic for Louisville... we'll see... Either way, I currently have a .667 record**
- Wisconsin over Montana 72-54 One of the most unfair first round pairings.
**74-49 was the final score, Wisconsin on top. I would like to note that with 3:30 remaining, Wisconsin led 62-45, and I thought I was on pace for one a spot on prediction. I was close. My record is now .750**
- Marquette over BYU 81-70 I have a hard time picking BYU (ever).
**I predicted an 11-point Marquette win. BYU loses by 20? Even better. 88-68 was the final score here. I'm not sure what the margin of forgivability/acceptability is, but I am going to guess that this final score is within the margin as compared to my prediction. .800 record.**
- Syracuse over UNC-Asheville 94-48 Kenny George is not playing, and that is a shame. Even if he were, Syracuse would win by 40.
**I was wrong in my prediction- but I am ok with that. I was rooting for UNC-Asheville, and I believe they should have at least had a much closer final score. There's no way they were the better team, but there's also no way they were playing on a level court with the Orange. The officials ruined the best chance we've seen for a historically shocking upset since... Santa Clara-side note about that link- as Steve Nash ages, he sounds progressively like the Men's Wearhouse guy. Back to Asheville getting hosed however, this is not the first time public perception has seen officials helping the 'Cuse get a win. Of course, the #1 advanced, so my final outcome was correct, but this may be the most disappointing game I've ever seen in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The beauty of this tournament, is that every single team conceivably has the opportunity to win the national championship. Sadly- that was not the case today. My record is now 5 correct, 1 incorrect, aka .833.**
- New Mexico over Long Beach State 67-58 Lobos realized their potential during the MWC tournament. Watch out for a run.
**Had the pace of the game been dictated by Steve Alford, my predicted score could have arguably been 20 combined points too high. Lobos forced a lot of shots- took a lot of shots early in possessions- and they let "The Beach" have transition success. New Mexico is going to have to control the ball if they want to make it to the round of 16... I predicted a 9-point New Mexico win, the final, 75-68, gave them a 7-pointer. That's a victory. I'm currently 6 of 7, .857 record. **
- Vanderbilt over Harvard 57-54 Bilas called this a great pairing in basketball, Scrabble and Jeopardy. I do not disagree. That being said, this is the first year I do not see any 12 seeds moving on to the second round.
**This may have been one of my bolder predictions- thinking that a running team against a shooting team would face off, only to slow down and shoot less. Shows what I know. This was a good matchup that I think lured a lot of people into picking the upset, but as of right now, I'm standing by my theory that all number 5 seeds advance this year. Regarding what happened on the court for this game- it was competitive for the first 15 minutes until Harvard decided to take the Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony route. Final score: Vandy 79 - Harvard 70. Worst score prediction yet, but I'm still 7 of 8, with a record of .875.**
- Kentucky over W. Kentucky 84-51 Hilltoppers will topple on this hill.
**I predicted Kentucky to win by a mere 30 points because I figured they'd be up by 40 at the break and would play all the nobody upperclassmen in the second half (only Callipari's bench players are upperclassmen). I was wrong on multiple levels. The Wildcats only won by 15, 81-66 and Calipari only played 8 men on the roster. Maybe it was an orientation to March Madness from Calipari for his freshmen- making most of them play 30+ minutes in order to somewhat get accustomed to tournament play. With those minutes, Kentucky SHOULD have won by 50- but letting this game get very close makes me think that Calipari will have incentive to instill the fear of God into his team. Watch out for Kentucky in the coming rounds. Current record is .888.**
- Wichita State over VCU 73-68 Shockers against Shaka. I love the matchup, not VCU's chances.
**So much for my bold prediction of no #5 seeded teams losing. VCU won this game in the end, but I think Wichita State lost it to let them stay into it. Should I be surprised that a final four team from last year gets a first round win? Do I expect VCU to carry all of this momentum into the final four and replicate what we saw for two straight years from Butler? Also no. Current record is 8 wins and 2 losses for a winning percentage of .800**
- Gonzaga over West Virginia 81-76 (OT) Why not pick an OT game? Offense is fun and I think it's funny to have a team fro the WAC against a (West) team in W. Virginia. Not a significant selling point at all, I just find it to be silly.
**Despite the Mountaineers playing close to home, I like to pick Gonzaga in early rounds- they seem to be a fan of getting 1-2 wins before losing dramatically in the big dance. As for my predicted score, anytime overtime is predicted, it is an exceptionally bold pick- too bold apparently as Gonzaga Bulldogged a 77-54 win. I would say that 75% of this game was West Virginia's dismal conclusion to what began as a decent year; and 25% is Gonzaga being a good team who will be tough for anyone to face if they hit this many shots. 9 wins now, 2 losses: winning percentage of .818.**
- Baylor over South Dakota State 74-66 Not sold on either of these teams, but less so on South Dakota State.
**I had the Bears winning by 8, and they did- just not so offensively. Final score in this one was 68-60, but to be fair to Baylor, should have been more. It took a little over 10 minutes before Baylor decided to put on their big boy pants and play like they did in non-conference play this year. WORTH NOTING: I would have not complained for one second if South Dakota State had won this game for two reasons- The first being that their nickname is the Jackrabbits, and the second being that Baylor wore uniforms rivaling Oregon football in their level of
awesomeawful. 10-2, .833.
- Iowa State over UConn 81-68 Cyclones have been quite good all year- better than Kansas State out of the same conference. UConn's been mediocre since their title run last year, and Kemba isn't walking through that door anytime soon.
**Did I say it or did I say it? Another game with the exact margin of victory- Iowa State wins 77-64. Tough year for UConn, but historically, defending champions tend to have a harder time with the quest for the repeat. More than UConn's struggles though- great win for Iowa State- great season for Iowa State. If they can shoot an entire game, or even 3/4 of a game they way they did through the first ten minute tonight, they are a team no one in the field will want to play. 11-2, .846.**
- Indiana over New Mexico State 61-55 Marquette used to have tournament success under Tom Crean, Indiana will as well. Aggies will compete.
**Much more offense in this one than I anticipated. I did predict success from Indiana, but I was way off in score and subsequent Hoosier margin of victory. Final score in this one was Indiana 79, New Mexico State 66. 12-2, .857.**
- Ohio State over Loyola-Maryland 76-50 O-H!
**(Faint reply- "i-o")Thad Matta did what I thought John Calipari was going to do. Those starters got a healthy amount of bench time and as a result, Loyola-Maryland showed incredible fight and resilience, putting a late scare into the Buckeyes on Brutus Day, but in the end, as expected, the #2 seed won handily, 78-59. 13-2, .866.**
- UNLV over Colorado 76-71 Buffs had a great late-season surge in the worst "major" conference in America. UNLV has the greatest potential of any MWC team in my eyes, despite not being as good a team as New Mexico.
**Nice of UNLV to end the night by putting an awful taste in my mouth. UNLV played 30 bad minutes of basketball, followed by 5 minutes of great basketball, followed by 5 minutes of meeker basketball. The Rebels hit two more 3-pointers than the Buffs, but they also took 24 more. UNLV played such painful basketball in the first half, it caused them to take desperation shots 10 minutes into the game. Another stat worth noting: UNLV had one more made field goal than did Colorado despite Colorado attempting 23 fewer shots than UNLV. I still believe the Rebels were the better team but only had 30 points or so through the first 30 minutes; that's why this month is so mad! I finish the day 13-3... 81.25% accuracy. I'll try to do better tomorrow.**