NCAA Brackets 2013: Picking Winners of Friday's Tightest Games

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 16: (L-R) Jared Berggren #40, Mike Brueswitz #31, and Ben Brust #1 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrate during a semifinal game of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament against the Indiana Hoosiers at the United Center on March 16, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Wisconsin defeats Indiana 68-56. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Picking winners is no easy business during the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament, as upsets galore tend to fill up by the day's end.

Friday’s slate of games promises the best tournament teams and games coming down to the wire. A couple No. 5 seeds will try to avoid a classic No. 12 seed upset, while a former Wooden Award candidate will try his luck against the Big East.

Let’s take a look at Friday’s best clashes and make some picks for those of the friendly betting nature.


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No. 12 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Wisconsin, TruTV, 12:40 p.m. ET

Bo Ryan always has his Badgers ready to play, but Wisconsin’s blue collar style has a ceiling. They have trouble playing from behind, especially when a team gets hot from beyond the arc.

Enter the streakiest shooter in all of college basketball: Marshall Henderson. The polarizing Rebel, no pun intended, will challenge Wisconsin’s perimeter defense and can keep his team in the game by himself.

In the end, though, Wisconsin is a true team with five players-plus that can fill it up. The strength in numbers points in Wisconsin’s favor.

Pick: Wisconsin

No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina, TNT, 7:20 p.m. ET

Villanova and North Carolina are two teams that like to get up-and-down the floor and run their opposition out of the building. In what is sure to be one of the weekend’s best games, the chess match between Jay Wright and Roy Williams alone should be reason to tune in.

North Carolina has the star power on their side, as James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston have become a fearsome in-and-out duo since Hairston was added to the lineup during midseason.  

McAdoo will especially give Villanova nightmares inside, as he will be the best post player on the floor. He should be able to take advantage of the ‘Cats small-ball lineup for a victory.

Pick: North Carolina


No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton, CBS, 2:45 p.m. ET

An exciting clash of styles in the Midwest Region, as the defensive-minded Bearcats face the jump shot-happy Bluejays.

All eyes will be on Doug McDermott to see if he has his Bluejays primed for a tournament run. He can start with a hot shooting day to pace his team, as Cashmere Wright and Co. will not give open looks easily.

Mick Cronin’s team made a deep run into the NCAAs last season, but have not been looking the same in the 2013 form. They can release all memory of their middling season with a win over the ‘Jays.

Regardless, I’ll take the top perimeter player on the floor to lead his team to an upset.

Pick: Creighton


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