One round gone, three more to go. The opening weekend proved to me once again that I absolutely stink at predicting these games.
Something told me to pick Cleveland State over Wake Forest because I figured it would be a tight game, but my ACC bias showed as I went with the "safe" pick in taking the Deamon Deacons. Ouch.
Utah State also hurt me, as they were just one point away from pulling off the upset just as I had predicted, but a slow start hurt their chances of moving on.
Oh yes, then there was the VCU-UCLA game. I will still stand strong in my pick of the Rams over the Bruins, as I feel that VCU did themselves in with too many turnovers.
I still feel the Rams should have won that game, even though neither team is likely to beat Nova.
Last but not least, my biggest upset almost became reality when North Dakota State fell just short of beating Kansas.
Big tip of the hat to Cole Aldrich down low, but I feel that had Sherron Collins not had a career day from the floor, the Jayhawks would be watching the Bison dancing in the second round.
Even if you are a Kansas fan, you have to give props to Ben Woodside for his Steve Nash-like performance in the clutch.
So, with that being said, here are my second round picks. Let's hope I don't mess up too bad this time.
Siena was solid in there first round game, knocking off a tough Ohio State team. However, I don't think they can handle the size and skill of Rick Pitino's Cardinals, so this is were the road ends for the Saints.
Earl Clark and Edgar Sosa have big games as Louisville moves on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Louisville 78, Siena 70
Although they impressed in the first round against an inconsistent Utah team, I am still not a big fan of the Wildcats.
However, for the Vikings to become this year's Davidson and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, they are going to need a little more magic from Cinderella.
Knocking off Wake Forest was huge for Cleveland State, and while I did not predict the winner correctly, I did predict they would be a tough out for the Demon Deacons.
The same goes for Arizona this round. If they relax and get sloppy like Wake Forest did, they will find themselves on a plane back to Tucson the next day.
I love the story of a "nobody" team like Cleveland State knocking off two prennial powerhouses back-to-back, so I'm picking the upset here. J'Nathan Bullock is key to the Vikings' success, and I don't think he will disappoint.
Cleveland State 73, Arizona 64
Now that the Jayhawks have avoided the big-time upset against North Dakota State, I think Bill Self has a little bit of motivation material for his team.
If Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich play like they did in round one, there is no way the Flyers can hang with them.
Call me foolish, but I don't think Dayton will put up as much of a fight against Kansas as West Virginia would have, but then again that's what happens when you start looking ahead to the next round before playing the opener.
Kansas 68, Dayton 57
USC used sheer athleticism to sneak by Boston College, but they won't be able to do the same against a deep Michigan State team.
Tom Izzo has a good group of guys this year, and I think the Spartans are poised to make a very deep run in this tournament. Turnovers and sloppy play kill the Trojans as they head home this weekend.
Michigan State 69, USC 53
After their first round thumping of Chattanooga, UConn is showing no signs of slowing down for any upset teams this year. Now with coach Calhoun back on the sidelines, the Huskies can remain focused and keep pushing forward to the Final Four.
Price and Thabeet fuel this offense, and both are playing very well as of late, so the Aggies could be in a bit of trouble if they don't find an answer quickly.
Connecticut 88, Texas A&M 69
Neither team had to sweat too hard to make it past their first round games, so with both teams playing sound basketball coming out of their openers, I look for a good game here.
If the Huskies try to get physical, they will lose. If the Boilermakers try and run too much and shoot a low percentage from the floor, Washington is advancing.
As it does in many close games, whoever can control the tempo will come away the winner. I think Purdue sneaks by in a great game, with overtime a big possibility. This game is as much of a toss-up as any, though.
Purdue 75, Washington 73
Missouri really does have a great duo in DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, while the Golden Eagles seemed to rely heavily on a great game from Lazar Hayward to avoid the upset against Utah State.
The fight and determination Marquette showed in the first round was impressive, but without Dominic James, Missouri is just a better team.
Missouri 81, Marquette 72
Memphis almost dropped the ball big-time against Cal-State Northridge, but I think it was an eye-opener to the Tigers and they won't let it happen again against the Terps.
Maryland is more experienced in having played in a tougher conference all season, but Memphis just has more skill than they do. No contest, Tigers roll.
Memphis 83, Maryland 69
Byron Eaton's last second layup and free-throw to give the Cowboys the lead was fun to watch. However, Pittsburgh is far more dangerous than Tennessee, with more balance all-around.
The Panthers did not run away with their game in the first round like everyone thought they would, but they are still the favorite in the East to make it to the Final Four. Pitt rolls.
Pittsburgh 77, Oklahoma State 65
Wisconsin shocked me by beating Florida State, and they could very well do it again against Xavier in the second round.
The only thing keeping me from picking the Badgers is the fact that every time I pick Wisconsin they lose, and every time I pick against the Musketeers, they win.
So I'm going to go based on numbers here (which you should really never do in college basketball) and pick Xavier to advance to the Sweet Sixteen to face Duke.
Xavier 64, Wisconsin 58
I honestly believe UCLA got lucky in their opener, with VCU committing foolish mistakes and not hitting free throws the way they have all season.
That being said, Darren Collison can still lead his team to a Sweet Sixteen appearance if they can cause Villanova to play as sloppily as they did against American.
Anything is possible in this one, but I'm taking Nova because they are in Philadelphia.
Villanova 68, UCLA 62
Duke is playing very well right now, following their ACC title with a solid first-round win over upset candidate Binghampton.
Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson lead the way for the Blue Devils, while Kyle Singler helps out from time to time as well. I like Coach K in almost any first or second round matchup, so the Duke wins this one.
Duke 70, Texas 65
LSU played great to escape Butler in the opening round, but I think they got a little help from the basketball gods when Matt Howard was forced to sit the majority of the first half with foul trouble.
If Howard was able to do the damage he did in his limited play against the Bayou Bengals, what will POTY candidate Tyler Hansbrough do? This one is a no-brainer, even if UNC is without Ty Lawson.
North Carolina 89, LSU 74
Western Kentucky is a legitimate team with Slaughter and Mendez-Valdez running the show. However, the Zags closed their first round game with some of the best basketball I have ever seen.
No team is more explosive than Gonzaga when they are playing their best, so the Hilltoppers are going to have to pray that Heytvelt, Bouldin, Daye, and Pargo just don't show up.
Gonzaga 84, Western Kentucky 73
No team is playing better basketball right now than Syracuse, except maybe Louisville. Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf have the Orange running on all cylinders, and the Sun Devils seemed fortunate to get some big shots from unlikely players in the first round.
For some reason, Syracuse always plays better in the post season, no matter what they do in the regular season. I go with experience in this one.
Syracuse 81, Arizona State 67
Michigan pulled off the upset in round one by beating Trevor Booker and the Clemson Tigers, but Blake Griffin is a much bigger challenge.
Nobody has been able to stop him this year, and when he gets even the smallest amount of support from Willie Warren, Tony Crocker, and brother Taylor Griffin, the Sooners put the game out of reach sooner than most.
Michigan has a shot if Oklahoma gets in foul trouble, because the Sooners are not deep at all, but the safe pick is definitely Oklahoma.
Oklahoma 66, Michigan 61
So there you have it, the second round is about to get under way. I'll be back later this week to discuss the results of the first weekend and predict the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.
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