OK, here are the last 8 games of the first round:
8. Gonzaga vs 9. Florida St. (7:10, Buffalo)
Spread: Florida St. -1.5
My Pick: Florida St., Despite the fact that Leonard Hamilton is a laughably poor coach, I am not sold on Gonzaga. I like their guards, but think they are weak in the post, and this is where FSU is very strong. I think the Seminoles has the speed at the guard spot to shut down the Zags guards, and the bench is much deeper. Gonzaga is always a trendy pick come tournament time, but they generally flame out early year in and year out. While I am not sold on this pick, mostly because of Hamilton, I think FSU wins this one by 5, 75-50.
7. Oklahoma St vs 10. Georgia Tech (7:15, Milwaukee)
Spread: Oklahoma St. -1.5
My Pick: Georgia Tech, I don’t like the way the OK State finished in the Big 12 Tournament, getting crushed by Kansas St and not even showing up to take the beating. While Georgia Tech made the finals of the ACC Tournament and gave Duke a decent game. The Jackets are incredibly inconsistent, I will admit, but they have two FANTASTIC big men in Derrick Favors and Lawal, and I don’t know who will guard them on the Cowboys team. James Anderson will probably score 20-25 for OK State, but I just don’t think it will be enough to offset the post play for Georgia Tech, who wins this game 68-65.
5. Michigan St. vs 12. New Mexico St. (7:25, Spokane)
Spread: Michigan St. -13
My Pick: New Mexico St., I went back and forth on this because I am not so sure that MSU won’t score 115 points against a very poor defensive team. But, NMSU has alot of talent that I think can run with the Spartans. This will be a high scoring game, and I think whatever team shoots the ball best and converts in transition the best will win. Tom Izzo is, in my opinion, the best Tournament coach in the country today, so I am sure he will have some good gameplan for this one. But, I think New Mexico St. can stay inside the 13-point spread, Michigan St wins 91-82.
1. Duke vs 16. Arkansas Pine-Bluff (7:25, Jacksonville)
Spread: NO SPREAD YET
My Pick: Duke, The Blue Devils will get an easy win on Friday, not only because UAPB played a game already this week, but they are frankly not very good. They struggle to shoot the ball and don’t have anywhere near the size of Duke. If the Blue Devils shoot the ball at even a decent clip, I see a 30+ point win for them here. Duke 101-65.
1. Syracuse vs 16. Vermont (9:30, Buffalo)
Spread: Syracuse -17.5
My Pick: Vermont, I think Syracuse will struggle some in this first game, in part because they will be missing their starting center, and in part that Vermont is the best 16 seed. I’m not saying the Catamounts can win this game, because they can’t. But, they should bring a decent number of fans, to combat the large number of Syracuse fans in Buffalo. Also, Vermont shoots the ball very well, especially from 3, which is dangerous against the Cuse zone. I think this game stays around 10 points for most of the game, and Syracuse wins by 15, 75-60.