I’m no pro at this whole betting thing, but I was fairly happy with my first round picks this year. Considering I picked every game on this site and went 15-17 against the spread, I am OK with that. In actuality, I only bet maybe 10 or 12 of the games and won money for the round. But, you still should never follow my advice. Now, as for the 8 games over the next 2 days:
1. Syracuse vs 5. Butler
Spread: Syracuse -6
My Pick: Syracuse, I was very impressed but the Orange’s win over Gonzaga, and I think they are surely the favorite to make the Final Four out of that region. This game will depend squarely on one thing: Butler’s ability to knock down 3-pointers against Syracuse’s zone. I think shooting in a new building, plus the length on the wings is something that Butler didn’t get against UTEP and Murray St., and it will lead to more contested shots, a worse shooting percentage, and a loss for the Bulldogs. Syracuse 74-64
2. Kansas St. vs 6. Xavier
Spread: Kansas St. -4.5
My Pick: Kansas St., I feel like Xavier got a FANTASTIC draw to make it here, but the run ends against the Wildcats. Jacob Pullen is a legit All-American, the Wildcats go at it on the defensive end, and as long as Jordan Crawford doesn’t go off for the Muskies, K-State should roll in this one. I am really looking forward to a Syracuse-Kansas State Elite 8 because that game will be up and down and have tons of talent on the floor. As far this game goes, take K-State 81-67.
1. Kentucky vs 12. Cornell
Spread: Kentucky -8.5
My Pick: Kentucky, No need to re-hash all the points I have made from the last 2 days. I think this is a mismatch all over the court, and talent NEARLY ALWAYS beats experience. Kentucky 89-60.
2. West Virginia vs 11. Washington
Spread: WVU -4
My Pick: Washington, I feel like things are falling into place at just the right time for Washington. Well, at least they are falling into place enough to cover the spread in this game. WVU loses their starting point guard, which will absolutely make an impact in this game. But every time I watch the Mountaineers, they step it up on the defensive end of the floor, something Washington is not exactly know for. Also, WVU still has Butler on the wings, and I expect him to be the difference in this game. Washington covers, but WVU wins 67-65.
2. Ohio St. vs 6. Tennessee
Spread: Ohio St. -4.5
My Pick: Ohio St., Did anyone get a better set of circumstances to make the Sweet 16 than UT? They get a wildcard tournament winner in San Diego St. (and almost lose to them), and then get a 14-seed for the 2nd round, who clearly had been burned out from their first round performance. I just am not sold on this Vol team, and who will have that can stop Evan Turner. Plus Diebler has been unconscious with his shot through 2 rounds, and UT will have to watch him closely. The scary thing is if UT can somehow win this game, they are likely going to the Final Four, and then the world will implode. But, that’s not gonna happen, Ohio St. wins 79-65.
5. Michigan St. vs 9. Northern Iowa
Spread: Mich St. -1
My Pick: Michigan St., I get that Kalin Lucas is done, but did you also notice his replacement had the cajones to hit the game winner against Maryland. That said something to me, and I never bet against Tom Izzo in the tournament. Also, UNI clearly did not know how to beat a press against Kansas, so keep an eye out on how much pressure the Spartans put on the Panthers. UNI surely can’t play that well for two games in a row, could they? Low scoring game, but Izzo figures out a way to win, 56-53.
3. Baylor vs 7. St. Mary’s
Spread: Baylor -4.5
My Pick: St. Mary’s, Of all the alleged Cinderellas in the Sweet 16, I am most impressed with St. Mary’s. You see they not only have the shooters on the outside, but they have a dominant big man. To me, this game will be the most entertaining of this round. Baylor gets basically a home game with Houston crowd, but I bet they underestimate the Gaels in this one. I think St. Mary’s pulls off the upset, 71-64.
1. Duke vs 4. Purdue
Spread: Duke -8
My pick: Duke, Crush me all you want, but this is the best Duke team since 2006, they finally have some halfway talented size in the post, and they are shooting the ball really well. They don’t seem as fatigued as in past years, and there is just a confidence in the way they play. Purdue has shown alot of heart getting through to this round, but Duke is just too good, and they win here 77-66.