21 March 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament: 3rd Round Saturday Predictions

(USA Today Sports)
Thursday's NCAA Tournament was wild and then some. Numerous wild finishes, some nice choke jobs (looking at you, North Carolina State) and a handful of upsets. Those that survived the madness and advanced will be playing on Saturday for a crack at the Regional Semifinals next weekend.

So without further ado, here are my predictions for the Saturday Round of 32 action.

Bracket

#1 Florida vs. #9 Pittsburgh - South - CBS, 12:00
There is no question that Pittsburgh looked more dominant in their opening matchup with Colorado than Florida did against Albany, but I would not use that as justification for a potential upset here. Yes, Pittsburgh's tough defense will keep them in the game but their one-dimensional offense will be shut down by the stifling Gators attack.
Pick: Florida

#4 Louisville vs. #5 Saint Louis - Midwest - CBS, 2:30
Down 16 with eight minutes to go, somehow SLU took NC State to overtime when the Wolfpack decided to miss a significant amount of free throws and do all they can to blow it, and eventually the Billikens won in overtime, although they did not make it easy either. Louisville, a chic Final Four pick, meanwhile had their hands full and then some against Manhattan, fighting hard down the stretch with some key plays by Luke Hancock and Russ Smith to get a tough seven point win. I think that without the advantages of knowing Rick Pitino like Jaspers coach Steve Masiello did, I think Jim Crews' club is in for a whale of a contest.
Pick: Louisville

#2 Michigan vs. #7 Texas - Midwest - CBS, 5:00
It was a thriller in Milwaukee with Texas winning at the horn to take out Arizona State. Rick Barnes, and I'm not joking when I say this, has done a nice job with the Longhorns this year but I think that will come to an end against the Wolverines. With Michigan's strong and deep offensive attack, Texas will have to be firing on all cylinders and I don't see that happening.
Pick: Michigan

#4 San Diego State vs. #12 North Dakota State - West - TNT, 6:00
The Bison got their first NCAA Tourney victory by upsetting Oklahoma in overtime on Thursday night, even after blowing a ten point lead late in regulation. San Diego State played their typical strong defense while taking out New Mexico State. I think the Aztecs can stifle the Bison offensively just enough to slide on by to the Sweet Sixteen.
Pick: San Diego State

#3 Syracuse vs. #11 Dayton - South - TBS, 7:00
We found out on Thursday why Thad Motta and Ohio State refuses to schedule intrastate matchups as Dayton won a classic to advance to now take on the Orange. I think they can give the Cuse some trouble with how varied their offense is, but I think the 2-3 zone will grind the Flyers down just enough for SU to advance.
Pick: Syracuse

#2 Wisconsin vs. #7 Oregon - West - CBS, 7:30
While the Badgers could not find their offense until late in the first half, they blew the doors off an American club that simply could not make a basket in the second half and won by 40. Meanwhile, the Ducks won in a similar way, had BYU hanging around in the first half but smoked them in the second. While Wisconsin will be playing in front of what will essentially be a home crowd in Milwaukee, I think Oregon will meet them step for step offensively but will let their superior shooting from deep lead them onward to Anaheim.
Pick: Oregon

#3 Michigan State vs. #12 Harvard - East - TNT, 8:30
As I have said before, this is a rock solid Crimson club under Tommy Amaker that can play, but I do not think that the Spartans are a good matchup for them due to their massive size and their skill in the frontcourt. Harvard is going to have to shoot the lights out, which could happen but I doubt it against this sound Michigan State squad.
Pick: Michigan State

#2 Villanova vs. #7 UConn - East - TBS, 9:30
While they did win relatively easily, the Wildcats never were really able to put away a mediocre Milwaukee clubs until the end of the game. As the folks out there probably know by now, I am not a fan of this Villanova club and I not only think Connecticut is the superior club, I also loved how they fought St. Joe's hard to get to overtime where they pulled away. UConn advances to the Sweet Sixteen.
Pick: UConn

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