You know, I've been debating over what exactly to write about this week. The tournament is in full swing, but it seems as though everyone and their mom is doing previews, commentary, postgame analysis, and so on and so forth. There are a lot of really good articles out there.
By the way, the NIT has been as good as advertised.
While I agonize over what exactly to do a feature piece on, here are my top three matchups for the upcoming Sweet Sixteen.
3. Duke-Villanova (Thursday)
As a North Carolina fan, it's pretty obvious where my rooting interest lies. I would love to see Coach K's Kids get smashed here. Villanova has really looked strong thus far in the tourney.
In the first round, they spotted American U. a 14-point lead (which prompted some very inadvisable betting by me!) before storming back to win by 13. They went on to a wire-to-wire demolition of a pretty good UCLA team. I loved the line by the analyst during this game; 'UCLA looks like a bunch of kids getting worked over by the 30-something team down at the YMCA' [paraphrase].
Meanwhile, Duke wrecked Binghamton in a game that made me wonder why East Tennessee State got stuck with a No. 16 seed while Binghamton made a No. 15. Duke hater that I am, I had them going down in the second round to either Minnesota or Texas. As it turned out, the 'Horns almost pulled it off, losing on a shoving call in the last 15 seconds of the game.
I think Villanova's combination of board-crashing and driving ability will flummox a characteristically soft Duke team, and Dante Cunningham will have a field day.
Of course, I've been wrong about almost everything this tourney. Either way, this is a classic Big East/ACC clash that should make for entertaining basketball.
2. Syracuse-Oklahoma (Friday)
Oklahoma is another two seed that I stupidly had falling in the second round. Blake Griffin has continued to run away from the field for Player of the Year honors in the tournament, putting up huge games in both the first and second rounds. Michigan was game, but simply could not keep up with the big fella down low.
Now, Griffin runs into one of the best coaches in college basketball in Jim Boeheim. His Syracuse squad boasts a 2-3 zone that can take away interior power, good guard play with Eric Devendorf and Jonny Flynn, and a solid inside presence (albeit one that can't shoot free throws to save its life) in Arinze Onuaku.
I think Flynn will school Oklahoma's young but talented Willie Warren, and Boeheim will outcoach Jeff Capel, but Griffin is going to be hard to knock out of this tourney. He is playing awfully well.
'Cuse in a nailbiter.
1. Missouri-Memphis (Thursday)
Yeah, that's right, I'm picking every 2-3 matchup but one. Missouri is the last, best hope to rescue my drowning bracket. They meet a potent Memphis team in what I anticipated before the start of the tournament to be one of the best games for fans to watch.
It's 40 Minutes of Hell against Calipari's Drive-and-Kick. Two teams with a lot of great players but not one dominant guy. Tiger against Tiger.
I'm once again taking the No. 3 seed. That makes all three games. So far, this tourney has been all about chalk, and all those upset picks have landed me in the basement of more pools than I want to talk about!
If that finally changes this round, expect 'Nova, Mizzou, and/or 'Cuse to make it happen.