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I’m not keeping my bracket much of a secret this year. Since I’ve never won my own pool in the 7 years I’ve ran it, I figured I may as well share my expertise in picking each and every game. So without further ado, here are my predictions for all 32 first round NCAA tournament games:
(1) Florida over (16) Jackson St.
Florida will easily overwhelm Jackson St, who’s just happy to be there.
(2) Wisconsin over (15) Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
(3) Oregon over (14) Miami (OH)
Oregon is streaking at the right time and although Miami had the best buzzer beater of the conference tournaments, that won’t matter once they take the court in this one.
(4) Maryland over (13) Davidson
Davidson got jobbed in my opinion in the seeding. They are better than most of the 12 and 11 seeds. However, they caught a tough draw in Maryland, who I think will handle them. Against different teams though, I could have seen Davidson making the Sweet 16.
(5) Butler over (12) Old Dominion
Every expert is taking ODU to win this game. Except this one. Butler will use the media to their advantage and storm ODU, with AJ Graves dominating the ODU guards in this one. I don’t even think it will be close.
(11) Winthrop over (6) Notre Dame
Winthrop is another team who got screwed by the committee, they should at least be a 10 seed, probably closer to an 8. Notre Dame is on fire right now but I think that fire goes out against the experienced Winthrop squad.
(10) Georgia Tech over (7) UNLV
UNLV was gifted a 7 seed and they will be lucky to live up to it. GTech is a better team and the fabulous freshman duo of Javaris Crittendon and Thaddeus Young should introduce themselves to the nation in this game.
(8) Arizona over (9) Purdue
This is a classic game of a huge overachiever (Purdue) facing a huge underachiever (Arizona). Zona has the talent to be a Top 5 team and I think they’ll show just enough to beat a Purdue squad thats long on heart but short on talent.
(1) Kansas over (16) Playin Winner
Another one that won’t be close.
(2) UCLA over (15) Weber State
I think the Bruins are pissed that despite being one of the two best teams in the nation this year, they weren’t named a 1 seed. They’ll take out their aggression on weak little Weber State, who haven’t seen defense like UCLA all year.
(14) Wright State over (3) Pittsburgh
This is one upset that absolutely no one is picking except yours truly. Wright State has a kid named DeShaun Wood who is an outstanding little guard. He’s just the type of star who could take a lackadaisical Pittsburgh team by storm. I think Wright State can rotate enough men on Aaron Gray to get him out of his comfort zone and the Pittsburgh guards aren’t going to beat anybody. Wright State is a good team from a good conference and they’re going to announce that to the world against Pitt.
(4) Southern Illinois over (13) Holy Cross
Holy Cross got this seeding based on their previous tournament accomplishments. Southern Illinois is greatful for that and will have no problem in this one.
(5) Virginia Tech over (12) Illinois
Another popular upset pick, but it really shouldn’t be. How on earth is Illinois in the tournament over Drexel and Syracuse? They won’t be for long.
(6) Duke over (11) VCU
VCU is a really, really good mid-major but I think I’ll give Coach K the nod in this one over Anthony Grant, the 1st year VCU coach. Josh McRoberts must become a man in this tournament for the Blue Devils to do anything.
(10) Gonzaga over (7) Indiana
Gonzaga is back in their comfort zone as a classic underdog in this matchup. I think they’ll play the best game they have all year against an inconsistent Indiana team and beat them into the ground.
(9) Villanova over (8) Kentucky
What a great game this will be. The winner of this game will probably be whoever wins the matchup inside. Randolph Morris and Curtis Sumpter are two of the better post players in college ball and they go head to head in this one. I’ll take Sumpter.
(1) Ohio State over (16) Central Connecticut State
Greg Oden will not be beat by a small school.
(2) Memphis over (15) North Texas
I think Memphis blows this one out, before facing a very tough test in the next round.
(3) Texas A&M over (14) Penn
Penn was the first team to clinch a bid in the tourney. Against Acie Law Iv, Joseph Jones and the rest of the rugged A&M crew, they’ll be one of the first teams out.
(4) Virginia over (13) Albany
How on earth did Albany snag a 13 seed? It won’t matter against Virginia, who has one of the best backcourts in the country. And backcourts are what wins games in the NCAA Tournament.
(5) Tennessee over (12) Long Beach State
Normally I think the NCAA seeding committee does a relatively good job. Not this year though. They are trying to say that Long Beach State is a better team than Davidson. Tennessee will quickly squash that notion.
(6) Louisville over (11) Stanford
This is one of the most intriguing games of the first round. Stanford has tremendous size with a pair of 7 foot twins, the Lopezes. But Louisville has such a balanced attack that I think they’ll sneak this one out at the end. Watch PG Edgar Sosa of Louisville. He’s potentially the breakout star of the tournament.
(7) Nevada over (10) Creighton
I absolutely love this matchup and will be very upset if I don’t see this game. Nevada is an obscenely talented mid-major who has some injury problems, while Creighton has Nate Funk. This should be a fabulous shootout which showcases the best mid-major basketball has to offer.
(8) BYU over (9) Xavier
We got from the very exciting to the very boring. Neither of these teams will last more than one round.
(1) North Carolina over (16) Eastern Kentucky
You know what? As ridiculous as it sounds, I see this one being close, with EKU putting a scare into Carolina. I’m not saying they’ll beat them, and I have no stats to back up my feelings, but don’t be surprised if it happens.
(2) Georgetown over (15) Belmont
G-Town will show why they have one of the best frontcourts in the country in this one. Roy Hibbert will be unstoppable.
(14) Oral Roberts over (3) Washington State
What? You’re picking not one, but TWO 14 seeds to win in the first round? Why yes, yes I am. Oral Roberts has all the ingredients of a classic Cinderella team: an inside presence (Caleb Green), a deadly guard (Ken Tutt) and a quality coach (Scott Sutton). Green is unstoppable inside and Washington State has no answer for him. If Tutt can just keep pace with Wash St guard Derrick Low, I really like ORU’s chances to win this game.
(4) Texas over (13) New Mexico State
Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin and a little more Kevin Durant. There is nothing this manchild can not do.
(12) Arkansas over (5) USC
USC is just the type of team who could make a deep tournament run or go belly up. Arkansas has been hot of late and snuck into the tournament. I think the bad USC shows up and Gary Ervin plays under control enough to lead the Razorbacks to victory.
(11) George Washington over (6) Vanderbilt
George Washington has a few guys in Maureece Rice and Carl Elliot who are grizzled NCAA Tournament veterans. I think they’ll surprise Vandy, a team who is unbeatable at home but frequently slips up on the road.
(7) Boston College over (10) Texas Tech
Boston College is a real mystery to me. I think they’d be a Top 5 team if Sean Williams was still with the team and they had a decent, controlled PG. They still have enough to beat Texas Tech though.
(8) Marquette over (9) Michigan State
Michigan State overachieved this season, as they don’t possess any top tier players aside from Drew Neitzel. Marquette has Domenic James however, who can do everything Neitzel can do, plus more. He’ll be the difference in this game.
What do you think of these predictions? Let me know in the comments.