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NCAA Bracket 2012: Predicting Every Outcome for Today's Games

Ron PasceriCorrespondent IIMarch 16, 2012

NCAA Bracket 2012: Predicting Every Outcome for Today's Games

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    On to the second half of the round of 64. We predicted the outcomes of all 16 games yesterday, going an unsatisfying 12-4.

    The games that came out on the wrong side were Long Beach State, Wichita State, Connecticut and UNLV.

    Hopefully day two goes a little better. But first, what was learned on the first day?

    First of all, never, ever doubt VCU. That team almost seems to not know how to lose. Second, Syracuse and Baylor could be in a little trouble.

    The most impressive performances were turned in by Marquette, Gonzaga and Colorado.

    On to today's picks.

No. 11 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats

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    Texas and Cincinnati is a bit of an odd matchup. Both teams are in the top 50 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Neither team shoots particularly well.

    The Bearcats are exceptional at taking care of the basketball and defending shooters. Texas' strength is offensive rebounding and having the best scorer on the court in J'Covan Brown.

    Cincinnati is a tough and solid team with good perimeter players and a good big man in Yancy Gates.

    This should be one of the closer games of the day, but Cincinnati struggles shooting, and Brown can light it up for the Longhorns.

    Texas 67, Cincinnati 62

No. 11 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. No. 6 San Diego State Aztecs

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    NC State and San Diego State is another pretty even matchup. The Wolfpack have the more effective offense, while the Aztecs are better defensively.

    NC State looked good in the ACC tournament with a win over Virginia and a tight loss to North Carolina. San Diego State, on the other hand, dropped a second game in the rubber match with New Mexico.

    The Aztecs are a good team and have won some big games, but similar to Mountain West rival UNLV, they have been very inconsistent recently.

    The difference in the game will be C.J. Leslie. He is productive on offense and disruptive on defense, and San Diego State won't match up with him.

    NC State 69, San Diego State 66

No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 8 Creighton Bluejays

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    Creighton vs. Alabama is a tale of two teams. Creighton is an offensive machine, while Alabama plays nasty defense.

    Creighton is fifth in college basketball in offensive efficiency, and Alabama is ninth in defensive efficiency.

    The Bluejays are not known for defense, allowing a hefty 35.6 percent on threes, and they don't disrupt teams at all. Fortunately, Alabama is 331st in the nation in three-point shooting.

    The Tide have some offensive talent, but a basketball game ultimately comes down to who makes more shots. It's hard to imagine Alabama making more than Doug McDermott and Creighton.

    Creighton 73, Alabama 69

No. 10 Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 7 Florida Gators

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    Yet another battle of contrasting styles. Virginia is all defense, while the Gators are all offense. One thing that is being overplayed, though, is the matter of tempo.

    It seems that people think Virginia will take the air out of the ball and force Florida to slow it down. The truth is, the Gators play faster than the Cavaliers, but it's in the bottom third of college basketball in pace.

    Virginia very well could win this game, and Mike Scott is probably the best player for either team. Florida happens to have one of the best perimeter attacks in the country and should be able to just shoot over the defense.

    Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal and Erving Walker can all shoot from deep, so expect them to do just that.

    Florida 65, Virginia 60

No. 14 St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles

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    Florida State was one of the most impressive teams in college basketball over the last week. It knocked off a No. 1 and No. 2 seed on its way to the ACC tournament crown.

    In relative anonymity, St. Bonaventure claimed the Atlantic 10 tournament in Atlantic City. What was most impressive was Andrew Nicholson, who carried his team and seemed to will it to victory with eight blocked shots against Xavier.

    Nicholson is great, and he gives the Bonnies a decent chance at an upset—but Florida State's defense is just stifling.

    The Seminoles turn the ball over a ton, but St. Bonaventure doesn't force many. The best hope for an upset is Nicholson having a huge game and dominating the offensive glass. It could happen, but it probably won't.

    Florida State 67, St. Bonaventure 60

No. 14 Belmont Bruins vs. No. 3 Georgetown

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    Belmont is up against one of the nation's stingiest defenses in Georgetown. It isn't 1980s "Hoya Paranoia," but it's not easy to score on them.

    On the other side, Belmont can shoot and score. It also has more size than most teams seeded in this range.

    The Bruins have a number of scorers and a really good point guard in Kerron Johnson. He can penetrate the defense and find open shooters.

    Georgetown is No. 1 in the nation in defending the three, but that doesn't mean Belmont can't hit them. This could be the signature upset of the first round—or Georgetown could take the Bruins out and make a deep run.

    Belmont 74, Georgetown 72

No. 16 Vermont Catamounts vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Not much analyzing here. North Carolina is vastly superior, and No. 1 seeds don't lose.

    The Tar Heels may be the most talented team in the nation after Kentucky. This game will not be close, and expect the starters to be sitting down for a large chunk of it.

    North Carolina 92, Vermont 69

No. 15 Norfolk State Spartans vs. No. 2 Missouri Tigers

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    Another game without much to discuss. Missouri is one of the best teams in college basketball. Norfolk State is one of the lowest seeds in the tournament.

    That doesn't mean there is nothing interesting here. Missouri's lack of size has been well documented, and Norfolk State is led by a 6'10", 240-pound center in Kyle O'Quinn. He is averaging a double-double and adding almost three blocks per game.

    He could make things interesting for a little while, but ultimately Missouri's offense will overwhelm the Spartans.

    Missouri 86, Norfolk State 66

No. 9 Saint Louis Billikens vs. No. 8 Memphis Tigers

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    Memphis vs. Saint Louis is yet another clash of styles. Did the selection committee pair teams with this intention?

    Memphis is fast and athletic. It loves to run and to score. Saint Louis likes to grind the game to a halt. It likes to defend and gobble up defensive rebounds.

    Saint Louis is 10th in the nation in defensive efficiency, while Memphis is 12th. Memphis is 19th in offensive efficiency; Saint Louis is 37th.

    Both teams are good—really good, actually. This matchup features two of the most under-seeded teams in the tournament. As evenly matched as it is, Memphis just has a little more talent, and it makes more defensive plays.

    Memphis 67, Saint Louis 58

No. 15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks vs. No. 2 Duke Blue Devils

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    Duke is a heavy favorite, as every No. 2 seed is. Four times in history has a No. 15 won, so while it's unlikely, it isn't impossible.

    Lehigh has a tremendous guard in C.J. McCollum, who could give Duke some trouble. McCollum averages 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game. He can cause problems at both ends of the floor.

    As good as McCollum is, he likely isn't good enough. Duke isn't as good as Duke teams of the past, but it is too good to lose this game.

    Duke 82, Lehigh 68

No. 13 Ohio Bobcats vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan is one of the better teams in this tournament. It has great guards in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. It's also been thoroughly tested in the rugged Big Ten.

    Ohio is a smaller, less-tested team. It is a big underdog, but it is an underdog with a fighting chance.

    The Bobcats are led by D.J. Cooper, who has already delivered an upset of Georgetown in his career. Cooper is a menace on defense and a playmaker on offense.

    Ohio is second in the nation in forcing turnovers, 18th in three-point defense and in the top third of college basketball in offensive rebounding.

    It may not be likely, and Michigan could win big, but Ohio has a chance to get it done.

    Ohio 65, Michigan 64

No. 10 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 7 Saint Mary's Gaels

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    Saint Mary's has been a great story and a very good team all season. It has a highly entertaining point guard in Matthew Dellavedova and a nice inside game with Rob Jones and Brad Waldow.

    Unfortunately for the Gaels, they are going up against a very tough Purdue team.

    Purdue is led by Robbie Hummel, who has been a great story in his college career. He tore his ACL twice and came back as tough as ever.

    Saint Mary's is a good team that can score and rebound, but it doesn't defend the three-point line. Purdue is just too tough to lose this game.

    Purdue 73, Saint Mary's 68

No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds vs. No. 1 Michigan State Spartans

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    LIU-Brooklyn plays an incredibly fast game. Actually, it plays at the second-fastest pace in college basketball. The Blackbirds have a couple of really good players in Jason Brickman and Julian Boyd, but it won't really matter.

    Michigan State is one of the true favorites in this tournament, and it will run away with this game.

    Draymond Green is dying to finish what he started as a freshman, when the Spartans lost in the championship game. This is just the first step.

    Michigan State 93, LIU-Brooklyn 72

No. 10 Xavier Musketeers vs. No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Xavier vs. Notre Dame is a matchup of two teams that really aren't that good.

    According to KenPom.com's ratings, Notre Dame is ranked 43rd while Xavier is 60th. ESPN's BPI rankings have Xavier 53rd and Notre Dame 60th.

    Notre Dame has dropped three of five, topping 60 points just once. Xavier hasn't been the same since the brawl against Cincinnati, going just 13-12 since that day.

    Neither team deserved such a winnable game, but Tu Holloway is playing to save his legacy, so that gives the Musketeers a slight edge.

    Xavier 70, Notre Dame 60

No. 12 South Florida Bulls vs. No. 5 Temple Owls

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    South Florida squeaked into the tournament and scored an impressive win over California in the First Four.

    Temple gets to go up against one of the stingiest defenses in the nation. South Florida is in the top 20 in both defensive efficiency and three-point defense.

    The Owls are eighth in the nation in three-point shooting and take care of the basketball. The Bulls are capable of smothering most teams, but Temple is just too good on offense to fall under South Florida's spell.

    Temple 75, South Florida 62

No. 15 Detroit Titans vs. No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks

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    Kansas is one of the best teams in the field. It has a legitimate chance of winning the whole thing. Detroit will not derail that dream.

    Thomas Robinson is one of the top three players in the nation, and Tyshawn Taylor is one of the best point guards. The Jayhawks also have Jeff Withey, who is a dominating rebounder and shot-blocker.

    Detroit may get run out of the building, but it comes armed with Ray McCallum, a dynamic point guard who could be an NBA player in a couple years.

    McCallum is a tremendous athlete who can score, rebound and involve his teammates. He may be able to keep the Titans in the game, and if nothing else, he should be fun to watch.  

    Kansas 83, Detroit 65

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