NCAA Tournament East Region Preview
First Round - March 19-20
Pour yourself another Guinness and get your bookie on the phone. It's time to place your bets for the NCAA Tournament. Here's a quick rundown of the lines and my insider take on each game. Let the Madness begin!
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 East Tennessee State
Spread: Pittsburgh -20.0
Backcourt Advantage: Pittsburgh
Frontcourt Advantage: Pittsburgh
Bottom Line: The Panthers will be on a mission after bowing out of the Big East tourney early. This game will get out of hand like most 1 vs. 16 games do and it won't help that ETSU likes to play at a fast tempo. Enough points will be scored in this game that Pittsburgh will cover.
Shaun's Pick: Pittsburgh -20.0
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Tennessee
Spread: Tennessee -2.0
Backcourt Advantage: Oklahoma State
Frontcourt Advantage: Tennessee
Bottom Line: The Cowboys are lethal from long range and Tennessee does a poor job guarding the perimeter. The Vols' Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism will probably be the two most talented players on the court, but Tennessee has been erratic this season. If Bruce Pearl can keep the Vols focused, especially on defense, they could win this game, but Oklahoma State is too dangerous.
Shaun's Pick: Oklahoma State +2.0
No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 12 Wisconsin
Spread: Florida State -2.5
Backcourt Advantage: Florida State
Frontcourt Advantage: Florida State
Momentum: Florida State
Bottom Line: This will be a slugfest, but Douglas and the Seminoles will find a way to win. Wisconsin is a very disciplined team who will grind games out with anyone, but they lack a go-to scorer on offense. Florida State should take care of business.
Shaun's Pick: Florida State -2.5
No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 13 Portland State
Spread: Xavier -11.0
Backcourt Advantage: Xavier
Frontcourt Advantage: Xavier
Momentum: Portland State
Bottom Line: Xavier won't be challenged in this one, unless it becomes a 3-point shooting contest. As long as the Musketeers stay patient on offense and limit their mistakes, they should move on to the second round rather easily.
Shaun's Pick: Xavier -11.0
No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 VCU
Spread: UCLA -7.0
Backcourt Advantage: UCLA
Frontcourt Advantage: UCLA
Bottom Line: VCU will give UCLA all it can handle, and could even win this game outright. UCLA is the better team and probably deserved a better seed, but if they don't put that behind them, they're going to struggle with a VCU team that is no stranger to tournament upsets (first-round upset win over No. 6 Duke in 2007).
Shaun's Pick: VCU +7.0
No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 14 American
Spread: Villanova -17.5
Backcourt Advantage: Villanova
Frontcourt Advantage: Villanova
Bottom Line: Nova will cruise in what is essentially a home game against a weak opponent. This will be a good warm-up for the Wildcats who will be poised to make a run to the Elite 8 or beyond.
Shaun's Pick: Villanova -17.5
No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Minnesota
Spread: Texas -4.0
Backcourt Advantage: Texas
Frontcourt Advantage: Texas
Bottom Line: The inconsistent Longhorns are better than the Gophers, but which Texas team will show up? They beat UCLA and Villanova early in the season, but were like Jekyll and Hyde in Big 12 conference play. With the emergence of Dexter Pittman inside, the Longhorns should beat the pesky Gophers.
Shaun's Pick: Texas -4.0
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Binghamton
Spread: Duke -22.5
Backcourt Advantage: Duke
Frontcourt Advantage: Duke
Bottom Line: The Blue Devils will have this game locked up before halftime. Duke has been eliminated early in the past four tournaments, so Coach K will have his team ready and focused to avoid another tournament letdown, which could come in the second round vs. Texas. Binghamton will not be a factor though.
Shaun's Pick: Duke -22.5
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