-Im currently 1-0 in my NCAA Tournament picks after picking Niagara to advance to the first round over Florida A&M. The real action gets underway today, though. Here are my picks for Thursdays games, along with a brief write-up of eatch match-up.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15TH
-13. DAVIDSON VS 4. MARYLAND (pick-Maryland). Davidson is a team that I thought would be capable of pulling a first round upset if they got the right match-up, but this isnt the right match-up. Maryland was red hot down the stretch and I just dont see Davidson pulling it off.
-10. TEXAS TECH VS 7. BOSTON COLLEGE (pick-Texas Tech). Both of these teams have been inconsistent throughout the season and I dont see the winner of this game getting out of the second round. This one appears to be a tossup, but I just think that Texas Tech has looked better in some of their bigger games. The Raiders won six of their last eight games, but looked really bad in the conference tournament. Still, BC lost four of their last six.
-11. STANFORD VS 6. LOUISVILLE (pick-Louisville). Stanford had some really big wins this year, and their front court will likely give Louisville quite a bit of trouble, but Louisville played extremely well in the latter half of the season, whereas Stanford has been struggling. An upset wouldnt surprise me, but I think the Cardinals will get it done. They could turn out to be a very dangerous tournament team.
-14. ORAL ROBERTS VS 3. WASHINGTON STATE (pick-Washington State). Oral Roberts has one great player in Caleb Green
, but he and he alone wont be enough to take down Washington State. Wazzu plays outstanding defense and does a good job taking care of the ball on offense.
-12. OLD DOMINION VS 5. BUTLER (pick-Old Dominion). Old Dominion is a very good team that finished the season on an absolute tear. Im actually surprised that they barely got into the tournament because I expected them to be much better. Now that theyre in it, I believe theyll make some noise. Butler is a good team as well, but could struggle with ODUs quickness. They havent looked as impressive down the stretch as they did at the beginning of the season.
-15. BELMONT VS 2. GEORGETOWN (pick-Georgetown) Belmont looked fantastic in their championship game againset East Tennessee State, but they are just way overmatched by Georgetown in this game. The Hoyas are a Final Four caliber team and could put this one away rather early.
-14. PENN VS 3. TEXAS A&M (pick-Texas A&M). Both of these teams play pretty good defense, and on top of that Penn likes to slow it down on offense. Their backcourt style offense could keep them in the game, but it also means that they arent likely to catch up if TAMU jumps ahead of them. Dont expect a lot of points to be scored in this one, but in the end TAMU will still have more than Penn.
-11. GEORGE WASHINGTON VS 6. VANDERBILT (pick-Vanderbilt). George Washington is a very streaky team and they do have a win over Virginia Tech from earlier in the year, but it came at a time when VA Tech wasnt playing all that well. Still, theyve won eight in a row and could be dangerous. Vandy has struggled away from home, but still appears to be a better team overall than GW. I believe whoever wins this game will really struggle in the next round, but I think Vandy will pull this one out today.
-11. VCU VS 6. DUKE (pick-VCU). This game could go either way. Duke has quite a few losses, but most of them have come against good teams and have been close games. VCU. I wouldnt be at all surprised to see them really catch fire, but at the same time I wouldnt be surprised to see them go down today against VCU. VCU has not beaten a team as good as Duke all year, but finishing first in the CAA and winning that tournament is no small feat. This is an opportunity for them to show that theyre a good team in the NCAA Tournament.
-16. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE VS 1. OHIO STATE (pick-Ohio State). This is one of the biggest mismatches of the first round. CCSU ended the season red hot, but doing that in the Northeast Conference is a far cry from doing it against Ohio State. The Buckeyes should absolutely roll over them in this one.
-9. MICHIGAN STATE VS 8. MARQUETTE (pick-Michigan State). Michigan State is a streaky team, but I still think theyll be able to take care of business against a Marquette team that looked sluggish down the stretch, and is now without one of their best players, especially if their defense can dominate the game.
-15. WEBER STATE VS 2. UCLA (pick-UCLA). UCLA lost their final two games, but that doesnt really mean anything. They are a great defensive team that will make a run at the national championship. They shouldnt have any trouble with Weber State today.
-14. WRIGHT STATE VS 3. PITTSBURGH (pick-Pittsburgh). Wright State has an outstanding player in DeShaun Wood, but they cant come close to matching Pitts frontcourt. The Panthers should be able to score at will inside.
-9. XAVIER VS 8. BYU (pick-BYU). Xavier finished the season red hot, but this is not a good match-up for them. BYU is much stronger down low, and plays good defense, which will give Xavier fits. Once XUs offense gets knocked out of whack, it tends to stay out of whack. BYU also looked very good in their conference tournament and won the regular season Mountain West title. They could end up winning this one by quite a bit.
-16. EASTERN KENTUCKY VS 1. NORTH CAROLINA (pick-North Carolina). North Carolina will most likely end up blowing this one wide open very early on and not looking back. EKU won the Ohio Valley Conference Championship, but that is just a tad shy of winning the ACC Championship.
-10. GONZAGA VS 7. INDIANA (pick-Gonzaga). Gonzaga struggled without Josh Heytvelt
, but they also looked very good in their conference tournament, and played a great game against Memphis in an overtime loss. If they can play at the same level that they did in their two conference tournament games, they should be able to beat the Hoosiers. Indiana has been underwhelming away from home, and they are a good three timezones away for this one.
-My picks for tomorrows games, as well as a recap of the action today, will be posted late tonight/early tomorrow morning.