Friday, March 16, 2007

Saturday's Second Round Breakdown

Ohio State vs. Xavier (1:10 PM): An intrastate battle that is not normally seen in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State was very impressive in their dismantling of Central Connecticut State, while Xavier made a nice comeback in the second half to knock off BYU by two. The difference in this game will be Xavier's ability to stop Greg Oden down low. Justin Doellmann and Brandon Cole did a good job against Trent Plaisted, but Oden is a completely different match-up. Xavier is very experienced, while Ohio State is still a young team. The Musketeers have versatile frontcourt players that could pose match-up problems for the OSU frontline. The Buckeyes' Mike Conley will have to control the tempo of the game from the point. Prediction: Ohio State 67, Xavier 60

Maryland vs. Butler (3:20 PM): An interesting contrast of styles. Maryland loves to get up and down the floor, pushing the ball for baskets in transition, while Butler likes to slow the game down and make it a half-court contest at both ends. The backcourt battle will be the key to this game. A.J. Graves struggled late in the season, but if hits his three-point shots and backcourt mate Mike Green controls tempo, Butler will better off. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez needs to push the ball, freeing up Mike Jones for jumpshots and D.J. Strawberry for athletic drives to the basket. The difference in the game could be Maryland's athleticism advantage and their edge in side. Ekene Ibekwe and James Gist are tough on the glass and provide shot-blocking. Prediction: Maryland 63, Butler 59

Texas A&M vs. Louisville (3:40 PM): This has the potential to be the best game of the afternoon. Texas A&M is one of the candidates to reach the Final Four, while Louisville is one of the hottest teams in the country. A&M struggled for a stretch against Penn but won handily, while the Cardinals destroyed Stanford in the first round. Louisville will try to pressure Acie Law all game, but Law is cool under pressure and likely won't turn it over. Down low, David Padgett and Derrick Caracter of Louisville need to get Joseph Jones of A&M in foul trouble. If they do that, they have the edge down low. Both teams are very balanced and plenty of options. This game could go down to the wire, and we all know what that means--it's Acie Law time. Prediction: Texas A&M 75, Louisville 71

Washington State vs. Vanderbilt (5:40 PM): An interesting game between two teams that play completely different ways. Washington State likes to play a grind-it-out type of game, while Vanderbilt has several guys that can shoot the three-pointer, and the Commodores like to take advantage of that. However, the Cougars are very good at limiting open three-point opportunities for their opponent, meaning that Vandy could struggle offensively, especially if their shots aren't falling early. WSU has to stop Derrick Byars of Vandy. He can hurt them inside and out, and WSU might not have the frontcourt athletes to match up with him. I think the difference-maker in this one will be Kyle Weaver, who can have an impact at both ends of the floor. Prediction: Washington State 68, Vanderbilt 63

Pittsburgh vs. VCU (5:50 PM): My upset pick of the day. I had VCU going into the Sweet Sixteen heading into the Tournament, and I can't turn away now. The Rams played outstanding basketball down the stretch against Duke, and Eric Maynor was sensational. Pittsburgh had a rough stretch midway through the first half, but they dominated the second half en route to an easy win. The key for VCU will be their ability to stop Pitt's Aaron Gray. The Rams don't have a lot of size inside, but they are athletic and will create havoc in the fullcourt. Pitt has to keep the VCU guards out of the lane, especially Maynor. Their drive-and-dish offense killed Duke on Thursday. In yet another close game, I like Maynor's ability to consistently get points down the stretch. I'm not sure Pitt has that one go-to-guy late in games. Prediction: VCU 70, Pittsburgh 67

Georgetown vs. Boston College (5:50 PM): This is going to be a slow-it-down, grind-it-out type of game. Both teams are mostly half-court teams that aren't explosive offensively. Georgetown started slow against Belmont, but took control midway through the first half and never looked back. Boston College made big plays down the stretch to knock off Texas Tech. The key match-up is BC's Jared Dudley against the Hoyas' Jeff Green. They are two of the best all-around players in the country. Georgetown has the edge inside with the 7-2 Roy Hibbert, while BC might have the edge on the perimeter with Tyrese Rice and Sean Marshall. The difference is going to be Georgetown's superior frontcourt and their overall balance. BC just can't match Georgetown, personnel-wise. Prediction: Georgetown 69, Boston College 61

UCLA vs. Indiana (8:10 PM): Two of the most storied programs in college basketball history do battle. UCLA, like several high-seeded teams, struggled to start the game, but dominated most of the game against Weber State and won easily. Indiana played better than they had in weeks, controlling the second half against Gonzaga. The only way the Hoosiers can win this game is if they go inside to D.J. White early and often. UCLA does not have a very good post group, and they are vulnerable to very good big men. White needs to dominate. On the other side, UCLA's defense needs to get out on the Indiana shooters, and Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo need to get into the lane against the Hoosiers. UCLA's terrific half-court defense and the backcourt of Collison and Afflalo will get the Bruins the W. Prediction: UCLA 65, Indiana 54

North Carolina vs. Michigan State (8:20 PM): A match-up of the 2005 Final Four, the year the Tar Heels won the championship. North Carolina had trouble with Eastern Kentucky for the middle part of the game, but they pulled away late. Michigan State used terrific defense to beat Marquette fairly easily. They led the entire game. In this one, UNC needs to go down low to Brandan Wright and Tyler Hansbrough. MSU's big men are physical, but the Tar Heels are more talented in the post. On the perimeter, Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan need to have big games for the Spartans. Tempo will also be important. Michigan State wants to slow it down, while North Carolina wants get out and run in transition. UNC's superior depth and talent gets them to the Sweet Sixteen. Prediction: North Carolina 72, Michigan State 63


  1. I like all those picks, except I'm going with Louisville over Texas A&M. I'd love to see Xavier knock off Ohio State too, but I don't think it's happening.

  2. So these aren't true!?!

  3. So these aren't true?!?