NCAA Bracket 2012: Predicting Every Outcome of Today's Games
On to the Round of 32, where there isn't quite as much drama and story, but the level of competition picks up.
Over the first two days there have been some incredibly mixed results with the picks. Yesterday we went 10-6 on what turned out to be a truly crazy day, bringing the totals to 22-10 in the Round of 64.
Not many could have predicted wins by Norfolk State and Lehigh on the same day, but there was finally a big hit on the upset by No. 13 Ohio over No. 4 Michigan.
The other losses yesterday were Texas, Belmont, Saint Louis and South Florida.
Hopefully the results for the weekend will be a little better.
No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats vs. No. 1 Syracuse Orange
Waiters needs to be a game-changer.
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Syracuse did not look like a team with a deep tournament run on the horizon against UNC-Asheville. Kansas State did what it had to in sending Southern Miss home, but that wasn't the most impressive performance either.
The Orange are vulnerable with center Fab Melo out of the lineup. Syracuse was already a weak defensive rebounding team, and without Melo the problem is even worse. Syracuse allowed 10 offensive rebounds to the smallest team in the tournament on Thursday.
Kansas State happens to be ninth in the nation in offensive rebounding. The problem for the Wildcats is scoring. In the win over Southern Miss, Rodney McGruder scored 30 out of 70 points. Outside of McGruder, the team shot 10-of-26, missing all seven three-point attempts.
McGruder is capable of exploding on any given day, but Syracuse has more options and is far superior defensively to Southern Miss. Dion Waiters is also due for a big game.
Syracuse 69, Kansas State 61
No. 7 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes are just too talented.
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Ohio State is a team that will only be satisfied with a championship. Gonzaga doesn't match up with the Buckeyes, who are one of the most talented teams in college basketball.
The Bulldogs are a very good shooting team that can rebound and defend. Elias Harris, Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre comprise a very good core. Gonzaga can give Ohio State a good game.
The Buckeyes, though, are first in the nation in defensive efficiency and ninth offensively. There are multiple ways Ohio State can beat you, and expect Jared Sullinger to do the majority of the damage.
If he is being slowed down, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas are fully capable of carrying the scoring load.
Ohio State 77, Gonzaga 65
No. 6 Murray State Racers vs. No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles
Does Murray St. have an answer for Crowder?
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Murray State has been one of the best stories of this college basketball season. It was a team many thought would fall prey to an early upset, but instead showed it was for real.
Isaiah Canaan was held to just 4-of-13 shooting, but the Racers still dominated the game and ran away from Colorado State.
Marquette is a tough team that is led by a tremendous tandem of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. The two combined for 45 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists against BYU. They are scorers who pose problems defensively as well.
Murray State can shoot the lights out, but Marquette is very similar but with more size and versatility.
Marquette 74, Murray State 67
No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers
Bo Ryan is hard to beat in March.
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There may be no hotter team in college basketball than Vanderbilt. Winning the SEC tournament and recording a win over Kentucky will boost any team's confidence.
Seniors Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli have been knocked out early in the tournament twice already and just won their first tournament game. The Commodores can shoot and defend.
Wisconsin has a senior point guard in Jordan Taylor and a tough tournament coach in Bo Ryan. The Badgers employ one of the fiercest defenses in the nation and are similarly efficient to Vanderbilt in offensive efficiency.
Vandy may be the favorite, but Wisconsin will be a tough out. In a close game with limited possessions, the Badgers' ability to protect the basketball may be the difference.
Wisconsin 65, Vanderbilt 62
No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers
Burgess and the Rams were triumphant once again.
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On paper, Indiana should be a significant favorite. The Hoosiers hold advantages in size, shooting and rebounding.
Forward Cody Zeller will be a matchup nightmare inside, and Indiana gets consistent scoring from Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls.
VCU may not look as good on paper. The Rams don't shoot well at all and aren't a particularly good scoring team.
But no team forces more turnovers than VCU. There will be tremendous pressure on the ball at all times, and Indiana's offense may be seriously disrupted.
Turnovers and timely scoring will be the difference in this one, and I have learned the hard way not to pick against Shaka Smart until he is out of the tournament.
VCU 66, Indiana 61
No. 8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats
Davis eliminates offense around the basket.
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Kentucky is the most talented team in the country. There is no other team in college basketball with the size, athleticism and versatility of the Wildcats.
Led by Anthony Davis, six players score at least 9.5 points per game, and three average over seven rebounds. Davis makes opponents' inside offense almost nonexistent.
Iowa State is very underrated, with Royce White being one of the most unique players in the tournament. He is a power forward that scores and rebounds, but he can also run the offense and step away and shoot.
The Cyclones can defend and shoot from deep and may be competitive for a good chunk of this game. In the end, Kentucky will turn it on at some point and prove to be too much.
Kentucky 79, Iowa State 68
No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 3 Baylor Bears
Jackson is Baylor's best offensive player.
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Baylor has probably the closest thing in the country to the length and explosiveness of Kentucky. Unfortunately the Bears don't always get the most out of that ability.
They were able to hold on and beat South Dakota State on Thursday despite a two-point night from Perry Jones III. Colorado is significantly more athletic and significantly bigger than the team Baylor faced in the last round.
The Buffaloes haven't played great competition, and they haven't been consistent—but they are on a serious roll. Andre Roberson is one of the best rebounders in college basketball, and Carlon Brown has proven to be one of the most devastating finishers over the past two weeks.
Colorado also has Austin Dufault and Spencer Dinwiddie to drain shots from outside. On the other side, Baylor has Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip, who form a devastating pair of shooters.
Baylor 71, Colorado 62
No. 5 New Mexico Lobos vs. No. 4 Louisville Cardinals
Gordon is a dominant presence inside.
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New Mexico is very undervalued as a No. 5 seed and has had a great season.
The Lobos won the Mountain West regular season and tournament crowns and beat San Diego State and UNLV twice in the last month of the season.
Forward Drew Gordon is a double-double machine, averaging 13.4 points and 10.9 rebounds a game. Point guard Kendall Williams battled with Long Beach State's Casper Ware on Thursday and scored 16 points while dishing out five assists.
Louisville is second in the nation in defensive efficiency, holding teams to just 30.5 percent shooting from three-point range and 41.3 percent from inside the arc. Offensively it's a different story, as the Cardinals score just 68.8 points per game and have only reached 70 points once in nine games.
Louisville is very disruptive defensively, but New Mexico has a great inside-outside game and should be able to outscore Rick Pitino's team.
New Mexico 72, Louisville 67