NCAA Bracket 2012: Predicting Each Outcome of Today's Games

Ron PasceriCorrespondent IIMarch 22, 2012

NCAA Bracket 2012: Predicting Each Outcome of Today's Games

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    I made predictions for each day of the opening rounds of the tournaments, so I figured it makes sense to continue to see how it turns out in the end.

    The round of 64 was pretty frustrating, going 22-10.  There was a bad combination of picking a few too many upsets along with missing a couple of the ones that did happen.  Ohio was the one big hit, with Belmont and Long Beach State being the toughest losses.

    Over the weekend the mark was 12-4, also frustrating due to the foolish pick of Lehigh to knock off Xavier.  C.J. McCollum is a really good player, but he was just no match for Tu Holloway.  Feathers in the cap were picks of Ohio over South Florida and Wisconsin over Vanderbilt.

    So that brings the overall record to 34-14.  Not as good as hoped for, especially with the toughest games still to come.

    Here are the picks for today's action.

No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 1 Syracuse Orange

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    Syracuse should be a clear favorite in this game, even without Fab Melo.  The Orange has a significant edge in overall talent and athleticism, and they play great defense and can score bunches of points in quick bursts.

    Wisconsin can't match that type of scoring, but what the Badgers can do is slow the game down and take care of the basketball.  Wisconsin will always play stifling and frustrating defense of their own.

    Syracuse needs a star performance out of Dion Waiters and a continuation of James Southerland's incredible performance in Pittsburgh last week.

    Jordan Taylor has the ability to be the best player on the floor, and Wisconsin is getting efficient offensive contributions from Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz.  This is likely to be an ugly and low-scoring game—in favor of the Badgers.

    Wisconsin 62, Syracuse 60

No. 4 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 1 Michigan State Spartans

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    Another chalk matchup between Michigan State and Louisville.  The Cardinals haven't shown much on the offensive end, but have been hard to crack on defense.

    Michigan State is clearly one of the top teams in the nation and won't be intimidated by the Louisville pressure.  The Spartans may not have the tournament's greatest crop of ball handlers, but Tom Izzo is a great March coach who will figure out how to deal with whatever is thrown his way.

    Peyton Siva has a ton of heart and Gorgui Dieng can lock up the paint, but Draymond Green is playing too well to be denied yet.

    Louisville will compete, but Michigan State will survive.

    Michigan State 70, Louisville 63

No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Cincinnati has had a tremendous season.  After the infamous brawl with Xavier, the Bearcats picked themselves up, regrouped and became a better team.

    A four-guard lineup has made Cincinnati tougher to guard and allowed for better perimeter shooting and defense.  Yancy Gates' toughness and physicality allows the strategy to work.

    But, Cincinnati hasn't faced as complete a team as Ohio State yet.  The Buckeyes have talent and size at every position, as well as great depth.

    Jared Sullinger will be a lot for Gates to handle, and Aaron Craft is as good as any guard at disrupting perimeter offense.  The Buckeyes also have highly capable scorers in Deshaun Thomas and William Buford.

    Ohio State is just too good.

    Ohio State 72, Cincinnati 62

No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Florida against Marquette is probably the most closely matched game of the day.  The Gators have simply overwhelmed both tournament opponents, but the Golden Eagles aren't a team that will be overwhelmed.

    Florida can shoot and score points in a hurry.  Marquette can hold teams scoreless for minutes at a time.  Florida should get a boost from Marquette's shaky defensive rebounding, but Marquette can make it up with its ball-hawking defense.

    Florida has the third most efficient offense in college basketball, but Marquette is holding opponents to 31.8 percent shooting from the arc.

    Florida is a formidable foe, but Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder will be the two best players on the floor and make the difference.

    Marquette 81, Florida 76