18 March 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament: Thursday 2nd Round Predictions

Even as the First Four began last night and will continue tonight from Dayton, the NCAA Tournament really gets underway on Thursday afternoon with the beginning of the "2nd" Round. The top two number one seeds will be in action, including the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, as well as a number of scintillating matchups throughout the day. Here are my predictions for the Thursday action.


3 Notre Dame vs. 14 Northeastern - Midwest - CBS, 12:00
The Fighting Irish are a chic team for a lot of folks in the wake of their run to the ACC Tournament championship and they should win this game, but I think Northeastern can make it interesting. Like Notre Dame, the Huskies excel with shooting threes and given how Notre Dame struggles on defense, this game can be tighter than many think.
Pick: Notre Dame

3 Iowa State vs. 14 UAB - South - truTV, 12:30
I like this Cyclones team a lot and they are not a good matchup for UAB in how they play fast and force turnovers. Look for a young Blazers team to be overwhelmed early.
Pick: Iowa State

3 Baylor vs. 14 Georgia State - West - TBS, 1:30
Given all the deserved criticism that Scott Drew gets for his coaching skills, he has done a solid job with the Bears this season. This is a bad matchup for the Panthers given how they lack size and can be dominated in the paint, and a physical Baylor team should be able to control the glass on both ends.
Pick: Baylor

2 Arizona vs. 15 Texas Southern - West - TNT, 2:00
Texas Southern did pull a big upset of Michigan State back in December but they also got crushed by Gonzaga, Baylor and Southern Methodist. Given how they struggle to shoot from beyond the three-point arc, Arizona will pull away early.
Pick: Arizona

6 Butler vs. 11 Texas - Midwest - CBS, 2:30
Chris Holtmann has done a tremendous job with the Bulldogs this year as they were a big surprise in the Big East this season. Meanwhile, Texas was a disappointment amid high expectations at the onset of the season and it appears that Rick Barnes' run in Austin is coming to a close. Butler is stronger defensively and they will get more consistent production from their bigs than Texas will.
Pick: Butler

6 SMU vs. 11 UCLA - South - truTV, 3:00
The fact that UCLA got into the tournament at all was ridiculous, but then the fact that they avoided the First Four play-in game was even more ridiculous. SMU is a very well-rounded club that is superior on both ends to UCLA so they will move on.
Pick: SMU

6 Xavier vs. 11 Ole Miss - West - TBS, 4:00
As expected, the Rebels were involved in a shootout with BYU on Tuesday night in Dayton and after a slow start, they put up a whopping 62 points in the second half behind a fantastic performance from Stefan Moody to advance to Jacksonville. Xavier got overseeded after a nice run in the Big East Tournament and given their struggles defensive, they will be unable to keep this high-flying Ole Miss offense in check.
Pick: Ole Miss

7 VCU vs. 10 Ohio State - West - TNT, 4:30
The Buckeyes feature one of the elite players in the country in freshman D'Angelo Russell but they have been kind of a disappointment this season as they never seemed to be able to put it all together. VCU did struggle a little after Briante Weber tore his ACL in January but they have found their groove again and their defensive style always makes them dangerous. The Rams will advance.
Pick: VCU

1 Villanova vs. 16 Lafayette - East - TBS, 6:45
Considering that the Leopards play no defense, and got tremendously hot shooting the three to win the Patriot League Tournament, it is going to take a whale of an effort for the 16 seed here to even make it close.
Pick: Villanova

8 Cincinnati vs. 9 Purdue - Midwest - CBS, 7:00
The Bearcats are a typical Bearcats team with tough, physical defense without a great deal of offense or shooting. Purdue does struggle with shooting but they the stronger offensive club and behind a strong performance by 7-footer A.J. Hammons, they will get it done and advance.
Pick: Purdue

5 North Carolina vs. 12 Harvard - West - TNT, 7:15
Harvard is a popular upset pick in some circles because they have pulled off upsets in two straight tournaments and North Carolina has been wildly inconsistent at times this season. But the Crimson are not as good this season as they were the past two years and Marcus Paige has the ability to take over this game.
Pick: North Carolina

5 Utah vs. 12 Stephen F. Austin - South - truTV, 7:15
This is also a popular upset pick considering that Stephen F. Austin pulled the 12-5 upset a year ago over VCU and Utah enters the tournament losing four of their last seven. However, I'm not sold on the upset here either because I think that Utah are a tremendous club on both sides of the court, being in the top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency, and they'll get the win.
Pick: Utah

8 NC State vs. 9 LSU - East - TBS, 9:15
Both teams have been inconsistent this season, meaning this game really could be all over the place. It should be an even contest with the Wolfpack having a quality offense and LSU having a fine defense. I do like the Wolfpack here because their opponents only shoot 40 percent against them and thus, they'll advance.
Pick: NC State

1 Kentucky vs. 16 Hampton - Midwest - CBS, 9:30
Kentucky is probably going to win by a greater margin than Hampton scores.
Pick: Kentucky

5 Arkansas vs. 12 Wofford - West - truTV, 9:45
This is another 5-12 matchup, meaning it could get some upset buzz in some brackets. Wofford is a solid team that does not turn the ball over and is led by a very good guard in Karl Cochran. However, they lack size and will not have any sort of an answer for SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis.
Pick: Arkansas

4 Georgetown vs. 13 Eastern Washington - South - truTV, 9:55
Of all the matchups on Thursday and Friday, this seems to be the most popular upset pick. Part of it has to do with Georgetown as they were overseeded, their methodical style of offense keeps their opponents in the game and that under John Thompson III, the Hoyas have not made it past the first weekend since their Final Four run in 2007. But it also has to do with the Eagles as they are underseeded and are very prolific offensively, being led by the nation's leading scorer in Tyler Harvey. I like EWU here.
Pick: Eastern Washington

1 comment:

  1. I think Stephen F. Austin will pull the upset again, but will lose in the round of 32.