21 March 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament: Saturday 3rd Round Predictions

After a truly wild Thursday, Friday was a bit of a let-down with virtually all chalk save for the very last game with Dayton upsetting Providence in Columbus. But now the Thursday winners are back in action today in the 3rd Round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Who will survive and advance to the Sweet Sixteen? Here are my Saturday predictions.

11 UCLA vs. 14 UAB - South - CBS, 12:15
Naturally after their controversial selection to the tournament that the Bruins would move on after a controversial goaltending call at the end of their game with SMU. UCLA also would not have survived had SMU made their foul shots down the stretch. If they hit their threes, UCLA should sail but look for UAB to make it interesting. However, the Blazers have got some spunk in them to keep it interesting.
Pick: UCLA

1 Kentucky vs. 8 Cincinnati - Midwest - CBS, 2:45
Cincinnati simply does not have the offensive weapons or the athleticism to keep pace with Kentucky so their only hope is to utilize their defense to keep the score low. But even then, this looks like an easy win for the Wildcats.
Pick: Kentucky

2 Arizona vs. 10 Ohio State - West - CBS, 5:15
Ohio State had to rally to take VCU to overtime and then win in overtime with star frosh D'Angelo Russell leading the charge. However, they charged right into a bad matchup with Arizona as the Wildcats have the tight defense to keep Russell in check and the underrated offense will then put them over the top.
Pick: Arizona

6 Xavier vs. 14 Georgia State - West - TNT, 6:10
The Panthers have been an amazing story and their wild win over Baylor was spectacular to watch. That said, had Baylor utilized some basic clock management (and Scott Drew knew how to coach), Baylor should have needed to even sweat down the stretch. Xavier has no flash but they are rock solid and playing really well. Unfortunately, even the fun runs have to end at some point.
Pick: Xavier

1 Villanova vs. 8 NC State - East - TBS, 7:10
The Wolfpack do have the talent to hang around with Villanova but they showed more of their typical inconsistency against LSU as they needed the Tigers to completely fall apart to get to Saturday. Villanova is rolling right now after they demolished Lafayette and they should not have any issues here in Steel City.
Pick: Villanova

4 Georgetown vs. 5 Utah - South - CBS, 7:45
Well that upset pick against Georgetown really worked out, eh? It didn't hurt that D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was sensational on Thursday night and he will need to do so again against a balanced Utah club. I think the Utes are better on both ends and will be able to get Joshua Smith in foul trouble in order to get the win.
Pick: Utah

4 Arkansas vs. 5 North Carolina - West - TNT, 8:40
There should be plenty of offense tonight in Jacksonville with the way these two play as North Carolina plays fast and the Hogs utilize Mike Anderson's famous press. The Tar Heels have more talent but they also are more inconsistent and they showed in their escape job against Harvard and therefore could be subject to some turnovers in the tight defense of Arkansas. I like Arkansas to get to the regional in Los Angeles.
Pick: Arkansas

3 Notre Dame vs. 6 Butler - Midwest - TBS, 9:40
As I said in my Thursday picks, Notre Dame was going to have to sweat one out against Northeastern and they did. You can expect a similar game here as the Bulldogs will look to pound the paint as Northeastern did. That said, I don't think they have the defense to keep Jerian Grant in check and he will help power the Irish to the Sweet Sixteen.
Pick: Notre Dame

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