There should be plenty of Madness this March in the always enthralling NCAA Tournament. There are plenty of teams that could win the title, including three possibilities in the Midwest Region alone. And there are plenty of teams that could disrupt expected title runs by College Basketball’s elite.
Here now are my predictions for the 2010 NCAA Tournament, one of the most enjoyable sporting events of the year.
Midwest First Round:
Kansas over Lehigh. A sixteen-seed will beat a one-seed one of these days, but it won’t happen here.
UNLV over Northern Iowa. Eighth versus ninth-seed contests are always tossups. I’m just picking a straw out of a hat with this one.
Maryland over Houston. Reason; Greivis Vazquez . Houston should give them a run, though.
San Diego State over Tennessee. San Diego State has a very balanced offense and is a solid rebounding and defensive team. Tennessee has plenty of talent to win, but they have been nowhere near consistent and do not have many very dependable players.
Georgetown over Ohio. The Hoyas, backed by the guard-play of Austin Freeman and the power and unselfishness of Greg Monroe, should pull this out easily. But, as in every NCAA Tournament, a win isn’t a sure thing against anyone.
Oklahoma State over Georgia Tech. The Cowboys have been on fire recently behind the play of guard James Anderson. I give them the slight edge, though this should be another barn-burner.
Ohio State over UC Santa Barbara. Evan Turner is the best player in college basketball. And he, nor his balanced supporting cast, will be stopped by UCSB.
Second Round for Midwest Region:
Kansas over UNLV. Too much talent for the Runnin’ Rebels to handle.
New Mexico State over Maryland. Maryland will probably win this one, but what's the harm in having a 12-seed that I know nothing about win a few games?
Georgetown over SDSU. Freeman and Monroe will be too much for a lesser opponent to handle. A Tennessee-Georgetown matchup would be very interesting, however.
Ohio State over Oklahoma State. This should be a good game, but the Buckeyes do not have a hole, something the Cowboys cannot attest to.
Kansas over New Mexico State. New Mexico State’s run ends here.
Ohio State over Georgetown. Should be down-to-the-wire, but the Evan Turner show will prevail.
Syracuse over Vermont. If Vermont still had T.J. Sorrentine , this might be a tougher call.
Florida State over Gonzaga. Not this year, Zags.
UTEP over Butler. Butler usually wins in the first round, but UTEP will end their title hopes.
Vanderbilt over Murray State. This will not be the last time you read “Vanderbilt over.”
Xavier over Minnesota. Xavier’s let me down in the past, but a loss by Minnesota would make Tubby Smith an instant candidate for Oregon’s open vacancy.
Pittsburgh over Oakland. This isn’t even the Oakland in California. The Panthers will roll the Michigan version.
BYU over Florida. I’m reading A Study in Scarlet , the first Sherlock Holmes mystery in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection. It’s about Mormons. That is the influence for my decision. And I’ve always disliked Florida.
Kansas State over North Texas. If Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente are on, this will be a blowout. If they aren’t, this could be close, even though I don’t know anything about North Texas’s skill level.
Second Round of West Region:
Syracuse over Florida State. This could be close, especially if Arinze Onuaku is still out for the Orange.
Vanderbilt over UTEP.
Pittsburgh over Xavier.
Kansas State over BYU.
Vanderbilt over Syracuse.
Kansas State over Pittsburgh. Again, this only happens if Pullen and Clemente shoot well.
Kentucky over East Tennessee State
Wake Forest over Texas
Cornell over Temple. ESPN’s Jay Bilas picked Cornell to reach the Elite Eight. That means beating Kentucky. I wish him good luck with that. But I do think they will win a few games.
Wofford over Wisconsin. Wofford will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Wisconsin is not very good. Hence, the upset pick.
Marquette over Washington. The Pac-10 has been awful this year. And Marquette is much better, in my opinion.
New Mexico over Montana.
Missouri over Clemson.
West Virginia over Morgan State.
Kentucky over Wake Forest. My dislike for DeMarcus Cousins almost made me pick Wake Forest here. But then I realized how good Kentucky is. And how good, hate and all, Cousins is.
Cornell over Wofford. Wofford’s dream ends. Cornell’s run stays alive and Bilas’s East Region remains un-busted.
Marquette over New Mexico.
West Virginia over Missouri.
Kentucky over Cornell. I could be wrong. Bilas could be right.
West Virginia over New Mexico.
Duke over Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
Louisville over California. If Louisville struggles from the outside, California will have a good shot at winning.
Texas A&M over Utah State.
Purdue over Siena. My cousin has Siena going to the Sweet 16. This is to spite him.
Notre Dame over Old Dominion. Luke Harangody’s back and playing as good as ever for the Irish.
Baylor over Sam Houston. Baylor’s star is named Tweety Carter. This is as good a reason as any to pull for the Bears.
St. Mary’s over Richmond. St. Mary’s is current Portland Trail Blazer Patty Mills old college team. This is one of many reasons why I am picking the Gaels.
Villanova over Robert Morris. This pains me, considering Mike Rice Jr., the son of Blazers announcer Mike Rice, coaches Robert Morris. If they can somehow limit the impact of Wildcats guard Scottie Reynolds, they might have a chance. And if they do win, the elder Rice will be even more cheerier during Portland’s telecasts.
Duke over Louisville. If Louisville comes out firing from deep and stays hot, Duke could be outed rather easily.
Purdue over Texas A&M.
Baylor over Notre Dame. The Tweety Carter factor again.
Villanova over St. Mary’s.
Duke over Purdue.
Baylor over Villanova.
Who reaches the Final Four? Ohio State defeats Kansas.
Who reaches the Final Four? Kansas State over Vanderbilt.
Who reaches the Final Four? West Virginia over Kentucky. The Wildcats youth will catch up with them. And De’Sean Butler, the Mountaineers guard, is playing as well as anyone in the country.
Who reaches the Final Four? Baylor over Duke. I must really like Tweety Carter’s name.
Championship Game Participants: Ohio State and West Virginia.
And who wins….? Ohio State, and not just because of Turner. The Buckeyes have a solid guard combo of William Buford and Jon Diebler, two players averaging more than 12 points per game that can spread the floor, hit big shots, and do the intangibles. David Lighty, who stepped up in the absence of Turner early in the season, has continued his excellent play as their versatile forward. And, along with a solid bench, they have a bruising center, Dallas Lauderdale, who, though undersized, has been a valuable asset both on the boards and defensively.