March 19, 2009


Figured we'd throw out some hasty Sweet 16 picks for each little pod. Here goes:

Midwest Regional

Dayton, Ohio (March 20 + 22)

Matt: Louisville

I don’t see any potential trouble with either the Buckeyes or Siena. Although I will caution that I think the Cardinals went from to underrated to overrated faster than anyone in sports history. Review that schedule and get back to me as to whether this is the best team in the country.

Doug: Louisville

Interesting little mini-regional here with Louisville and Ohio State both in Dayton. I’m curious to see who has more fans there. Honestly, as crazy as it sounds, I think Louisville will have the most fans there. Louisville people are freaking nuts about college basketball, and it’s only about 1.5-2 hours from Louisville to Dayton. I think LVille will have a YUUUUUUUUUGE crowd in Dayton all weekend.

As for the games, I can’t see Louisville getting challenged by Ohio State or Siena. If Louisville plays Ohio State, their pressure is going to be brutal on PJ Hill and Jeremie Simmons. Honestly, if Ohio State had a point guard, I think they could hang with Louisville. But OSU’s point guard situation is an abomination. They have the worst point guard combo in this entire tournament.

I don’t know what to believe on Louisville. Part of me thinks they are the best team in the country, but they are just flaky enough to make me wonder about them. I love the fact that Rick Pitino is pacing that sideline, and Pitino is a maestro in the NCAA Tournament. They have talent, experience, and depth. Pretty much everything you would want.

The only thing that makes me nervous about them is that they go through these awful stretches where they can’t figure out what they want to do on offense. Who is their go-to guy?? Clark?? Williams?? Samuels?? It seems like they will have an 8-10 minute stretch every game where everyone is chucking up terrible shots. The worst offender might be Edgar Sosa. When he comes in, he immediately hoists up about 3 bad shots and then gets taken out of the game. That will happen at least 3 times in this NCAA Tournament. Plus, LVille is a little shaky at the line.

I was REALLY impressed with the Cards in New York, but they need to play more mature basketball for 40 minutes if they want to cut down the nets.

Miami(FL) (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Wake Forest

I would be surprised – but not shocked – if the Deacons lost to Cleveland State in the first round. That’s how inconsistent this team is.

Doug: Wake Forest

I believe Matt coined this during college football season, but Wake is my “spotting dimes and eating onions” team in this tournament. I’ve watched a few Wake games, and I am BLOWN AWAY by their athleticism and size. It’s absurd. When they are clicking, look out. They can go on a 20-0 run and blow you out of the building.

The problem for Wake is that they cannot play a halfcourt game at all. The Skip Prosser/Dino Gaudio model of run and gun doesn’t work in the tournament unless you are equally tough on the defensive end. Wake seems content to try to trade baskets, but that’s doesn’t work in the NCAAs. Wake’s halfcourt offense consists of throwing up a quick shot and then everyone crashes the boards like a maniac.

I honestly would not be surprised if Wake loses in round 1 or round 2, but I also can’t deny all the talent that they have on the roster. They already won at BYU, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t beat Utah in round 2.

Minneapolis (March 20 & 22)

Matt: West Virginia

In Bob Huggins I trust. Just not quite sold on the Jayhawks this year.

Doug: West Virginia

Love West Virginia in this tournament. They have guards, they have difference-makers (Ebanks and Butler), and they can shoot. Plus, for all the criticism of Huggins, the guy can flat out coach and prepare his teams to win. When Huggins has talent, he advances in the big dance. People associate Huggins with early round exits, but the reality was that his teams that lost early at UC were not all that talented. A lot of UC teams with average talent overachieved and got 2 seeds that they didn’t really deserve. When those teams would lose in the 2nd round, it wasn’t really even an upset. He had talent in 92, 93, and 96 and went to the Elite Eight in all those years. And he’s taken 2 other teams to the Sweet 16.

I think West Virginia could absolutely make the Final Four this year.

Minneapolis (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Michigan State

This is a total nod to Thomas Montgomery Izzo. Just about anyone else on that sideline and I’d be contemplating picking USC here.

Doug: Michigan State

I think Michigan State is flying under the radar a little bit, but you are still talking about a Tom Izzo team. Izzo likes his team a lot this year. That’s good enough for me. They have a really good lead guard with Kalin Lucas, and they have an assortment of rugged 6’8” type guys who can defend and rebound. That is a typical formula for a deep MSU run in the NCAA Tournament.

I will say that the USC game is a little scary for Sparty if USC gets by Boston College. I watched USC twice last weekend in Vegas, and I was really impressed with their athleticism. When they bring it defensively, they are a scary team. This Demar Derozan guy is really really talented, and they have an assortment of rangy guys who can defend and get to the rim. I think USC is really really dangerous, but I could also see them not showing up and laying an egg in the first round.

West Regional

Philadelphia (March 19 & 21)

Matt: UConn

Maybe the shakiest of the one seed. I don’t know enough about A&M or BYU to call for the early upset.

Doug: UConn

I’m not all that high on UConn since they haven’t really been the same team after that Dyson injury, but there’s nobody here who can threaten them. I think the Huskies will march on.

Portland, Oregon (March 19 & 21)

Matt: Washington

Can’t believe I’m picking the Huskies. Was very impressed with Mississippi State in the SEC tournament, but will they suffer the Georgia syndrome of just being happy they made it? I’m 50/50 on that game.

Doug: Washington

I had Washington as one of my sleepers going into this tournament, so I might as well pick them here. Washington won the Pac 10, and the Pac 10 is ALWAYS underrated in the NCAA Tournament. No one knows anything about these teams, so they always seem to sneak up on people. There are a lot of talented hoops players out west.

This pod is in Portland, so I’m expecting a large Huskies contingent. Mississippi State doesn’t really concern me. They are probably going to lay down this week after winning the SEC tournament.

Not sure what to make of Purdue either. Part of me is really impressed with them, but I thought they played poorly in OOC play. Can’t shake that from my mind. They got bludgeoned at home by Duke. I do like their defense and coach, so it would not stun me if they end up winning this pod.

Boise, Idaho (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Utah State

They are legit. Marquette does not have the big men to match up with Big Daddy Wilkinson. I honestly think this is a dream draw for Utah State to get to the Sweet 16.

Doug: Utah State

I knew nothing about Utah State until watching them in Vegas last weekend, and I am really impressed with their team. They have a legitimately good big man, good guards, and they are an experienced team. They went 30-4 this year!! I don’t care who you played. If you go 30-4, you can beat some teams in the NCAA Tournament. I think their seed is too low here. They should have been something like a 7 seed. I think they’ll get by Marquette and shock Mizzou in the 2nd round. This game is in Boise, so it’s only a 3-4 drive from Logan, Utah to get there. Judging by their turnout in Reno last weekend, I’m expecting a large Aggies crowd in Boise.

I will say that I was also impressed by Missouri. Mike Anderson is doing a great job at Mizzou. Could have seen that coming from his UAB days. Their style of play is tough to handle, and it seems like they wear you out in the 2nd half. Sort of like a poor man’s Louisville.

Kansas City, Missouri (March 19 & 21)

Matt: Memphis

Flying a little under the radar and you know Calipari has the Fighting Neck Tattoo’s fired up that they didn’t get a 2 seed. Plus, they’ve been absolutely bludgeoning people lately.

Doug: Memphis

On paper, I think Memphis has as good of a shot as anyone to cut down the nets. They are long and athletic, they have a great lead guard, and Coach Cal is becoming an Izzo/Pitino type coach who always does well in the NCAAs. They are DESTROYING teams lately. That kind of excellence doesn’t go away once you start playing better competition.

I will say that there is always one shocker in the NCAAs where one of the super favorites goes out early. Last year it was Georgetown against Davidson. Somebody really big is going down in round 2. Not saying that it’s Memphis, but it’s usually someone that you least expect.

East Regional

Dayton, Ohio (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Pitt

SO tempted to pick Tennessee here. In fact, disregard Pitt. I’m going with the VOLS here. No respect for the SEC this year. You know Bruce Pearl will have them fired up.

Doug: Pitt

Not gonna lie, I was very tempted to take Pitt to go down in round 2 to either Tennessee or Oklahoma State. As much as I like Pitt, would it stun anyone if they lost?? If you look at Pitt’s roster and compare it to Tennessee’s roster, who has more talent?? The Vols. They have all kinds of athletes and size. Pitt is basically a 4-5 man team with a couple horses and a lot of marginal guys that play team ball. Isn’t that the formula to get knocked off once you get up against a more talented team?? Plus, Pitt is not going to get the Big East ref treatment in the NCAAs. These tournament games are called a lot tighter, which works against Pitt’s rugged style.

I am rooting for Pitt to advance. It’s good for the league, and I really like Jamie Dixon. I’m just concerned that their style of play is going to bring them down early.

Boise, Idaho (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Florida State

I alternated between thoroughly impressed and underwhelmed on the Noles during their ACC run. In the end, it comes down to Xavier slumping and Toney Douglas carrying the team.

Doug: Xavier

I don’t really buy into this pick, but I gotta go with the hometown team. This edition of Xavier is not as good as they’ve been in the past. They are overseeded as a 4 seed here. Xavier had some really good OOC wins that have kept them in a favorable position with the committee, but I’m not sure they are really that good of a team this year.

Florida State is really dangerous, but they have a very ugly style of play. Very sloppy. That could come back to haunt them early in this tournament.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (March 19 & 21)

Matt: Villanova

Nova gets a gift playing at home for the first two rounds. I don’t see them losing to UCLA.

Doug: Villanova

I have Nova in my Final Four, so I might as well take them here. I love their draw. If they have to play Duke in the Sweet 16, it’s a perfect matchup for them.

Greensboro, North Carolina

Matt: Duke

See Nova above.

Doug: Duke

Not sold on the Dukies at all, but I think they can get to the Sweet 16. If Duke could just find a couple quality big men, they’d be a legit title contender. It makes no sense to me how Coach K can’t land a stud big man to go with all those talented wing players.

South Region

Greensboro, North Carolina

Matt: UNC

See Duke above. Although that LSU game could be interesting if Lawson isn’t healthy. Side note, when did winning the SEC turn into the equivalent of winning the Missouri Valley? I know the conference is down, but an 8 seed for the conference champ?

Doug: UNC

I’d be crazy to pick anyone else here, but I do think the Lawson injury will come back to haunt Carolina at some point. He is the guy that makes UNC go. Without Lawson, UNC is a top 15 team. With him, they are a top 2 team. If he’s not healthy, I think UNC is going down before the Final Four.

Portland, Oregon (March 19 & 21)

Matt: Gonzaga

Sleeper alert. I know it’s always ‘the Zags year,’ but they have totally transformed the program from a team full of plucky white guys that try harder and shoot better than you do to legitimate power conference talent. Heytfelt, Daye, Bouldin are all first round or borderline first round NBA talent.

Doug: Gonzaga

I would love to pick against Gonzaga here, but Illinois is going down in the first round. I don’t buy into the Zags yet again. For all the fuss about them, they lost to every good team they played in OOC play. I would love to see Akron knock them off in the first round.

Miami, Florida (March 20 & 22)

Matt: Syracuse

I think this team is a little different than that G-Mac squad from a few years ago. That team knew it HAD to win the BET to get in, while this team just went on a great run and moved all the way up to a 3 seed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new McNamara, Geric Devendara and Jonny Flynn went on an extended run.

Doug: Arizona State

This one is a flyer, but I was impressed after watching them in the Pac 10 tournament. They have a good mix of players, and Herb Sendek is maybe the most underrated coach in the country. Those NC State fans whined like crazy about Sendek, and yet he was the best thing to happen to that program. They’ve done nothing since they let him go. DUMB. These programs need to know where they stand in the college hoops world. You’re NC State. Act like it. Sendek got them to the dance with regularity, he made noise in the ACC Tourney quite a few times, and they made a couple Sweet 16s. That’s not that bad.

As for ASU, I really like Harden, and this point guard Glasser can play. He’s a white guy, but he’s quick and he’s got a little moxie to him. I’m a big fan of their roster.

I’ve been on the Syracuse bandwagon all year, but I’ve said all along that they had one good run in them. Either it was a deep run in the Big East tourney or a deep run in the NCAAs. Now that they’ve gone deep in the Big East tournament, I think they’ll bow out early in the NCAAs. I love their roster, but the Cuse are still too streaky for me to trust in back to back weeks.

Kansas City, Missouri (March 19 & 21)

Matt: Clemson

This is more a product of me thinking that there Oklahoma will be upset than Clemson is that good. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan is the team sitting here.

Doug: Michigan

I hate this pick, but I couldn’t be less excited about Oklahoma. Beilein is a good coach who has a history of performing well in the NCAAs.


Jimmy said...

You guys are both nuts for going with Utah State. Yeah, they're certifiably good, but they have THE WORST defense of any team in the 65 team draw. The stats back it up. If they want to trade buckets with marquette, the Golden Warriors (or whatever they're called now) have the horses to keep up. And you're completely sleeping on Mizzou. I think the Big 12 will only have one representative making noise deep in the tournament, and the Tigers match up well enough in their draw to be that team.

It's gonna be great when i don't work for a University athletic department and join in on these football and hoops predictions with you.

One more thing.........

Go Zags!!!

Jeremy said...

I'm late to this party, obviously, and hindsight is 20-20 of course, but what's the deal with the indifference towards Oklahoma? The best player in the country plus one of the best young coaches in the game? Sounds like a pretty solid combination to me. I guess I don't think much of Griffin's supporting case but no one else in that region had anyone that could stop him.