Thoughts on Today’s Schedule in the NCAA Tournament

Izzo

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo is terrific in the tournament but can he get his Spartans past second seed Virginia today?

Here’s all eight games on today’s docket. Who I like and who I don’t…

Michigan State (+5) vs Virginia – Both teams can play pretty good defense , but in their last two outings Michigan State has struggled in the end. The first time it cost them the Big Ten Title and the second was Friday against Georgia when they allowed the Bulldogs to get close in the end. I’m just not convinced that Tom Izzo’s Spartans can play consistently enough to knock off the the Cavaliers.

The Pick: I think this game is close but take the Cavs pulling away in the end.

San Diego State (+9.5) vs Duke – The Aztecs play really good defense as they give up just over 53 points per game. Offensively they rely on the three but if they aren’t hitting those they could be in trouble. Duke will look for balance on the inside with Okafor and on the outside with Cook and Jones. The Blue Devils must defend the perimeter and if they do they should be able to advance.

The Pick: I like Devils but take the Aztecs getting those points.

Huggins

West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins expects to do a some yelling today as his team plays Maryland.

West Virginia (Pick ‘Em) vs Maryland – The Terrapins win over Valporaiso shouldn’t be dismissed easily. The Crusaders have proven themselves to be a formidable team in March in recent years. The Mountaineers led Buffalo throughout their opening game and won despite some late-game mistakes that Head Coach Bob Huggins wasn’t thrilled about. The Terps showed they could win in the Big Ten and I think that pays off here.

The Pick: Take the Terps.

Dayton (+4.5) vs Oklahoma – The Flyers barely survived beating Boise State in the play-in game on their home court and then really surprised everyone by ripping Providence. I didn’t think they’d do such a thing and now they get a shot at Oklahoma. Frankly, nothing would surprise me. The Sooners got through Albany and they have no reason to overlook Dayton.

The Pick: Take the Sooners to cover but it won’t be easy.

Wichita State (+1.5) vs Kansas – This has already been called the biggest games in the history of the state of Kansas. The Shockers have always been a “nice” program but nothing compared to the powerful Jayhawks. WSU made an earlier than expected exit last year when they entered the tournament unbeaten and I think that serves as motivation. Kansas was relatively inconsistent coming into the tournament and I wonder if that factors in today.

The Pick: Take the Shockers to “Shock” the Jayhawks.

Oregon (+12) vs Wisconsin – The Ducks have shown they can score but can they score against the Badgers who can lock down teams as well as anyone as they give up just over 56 points per game. I’m thinking the other end of the court is the bigger issue though. Wisconsin can score in a variety of ways and the Ducks don’t play defense the way you need to in the tournament.

The Pick: Call me crazy but I like the Badgers to cover.

Northern Iowa (-2.5) vs Louisville – Defense should be the name of the game in this one as both teams give up less than 60 points per game. The Cards certainly have tournament experience especially when it comes to coaching but don’t sleep on the Panthers. Look for them to slow things down and they’ll attempt to take┬áMontrezl Harrell out of his game.

The Pick: Give me the Panthers to cover and advance.

Iowa (+6.5) vs Gonzaga – The Hawkeyes were fairly impressive in their opening game win over Davidson while the Zags looked pretty good in defeating North Dakota St. Iowa has won seven of their last eight but the competition hasn’t been that impressive. I think a really balanced Gonzaga team will be to much for them.

The Pick: Take the Zags to cover.

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