19 March 2016

2016 NCAA Tournament Predictions: 2nd Round

With the exception of Little Rock, Yale, Providence, Stephen F. Austin, Hawaii, St. Joe's, Northern Iowa and, most incomprehensibly of all, Middle Tennessee, not a whole lot went down these past two days in the NCAA Tournament, right?

Now as the field has whittled in half, who will advance to the Sweet Sixteen next weekend? Here are my predictions for the 2nd Round of March Madness.

Saturday, March 19th
Miami vs. 11 Wichita State - Providence - CBS, 12:00
Miami Hurricanes (1972 - Pres)Wichita State Shockers (2010 - Pres)
Vegas is loving the Shockers right now as they are the favorites coming into this matchup. I can see why after they kicked the crap out of Arizona in the 1st Round but I also think it disrespects the Hurricanes somewhat. In a game that should be a grinder, I have a little more confidence that Miami can get just enough offense to survive.
Pick: Miami

Duke vs. 12 Yale - Providence - CBS, 2:30
Duke Blue Devils (1978 - Pres)Yale Bulldogs (1972 - 1997)
I did pick against Duke on Thursday, will I do it again? I'm very tempted to do so because the Bulldogs will force Duke to slow it down and they will control the boards against a small frontline of their opponent. But ultimately, the skill of the Blue Devil wings will prove to be the difference.
Pick: Duke

Kentucky vs. 5 Indiana - Des Moines - CBS, 5:00
Kentucky Wildcats (1973 - 1988)Indiana Hoosiers (1997 - 2001)
These two should be continuing their rivalry in the regular season but alas, here we are. Both looked very good in the opening round in dispatching their overmatched competition and could be a sign of deep runs for either. I do think that the Wildcats are the superior club and I think their bigs will help power them through.
Pick: Kentucky

Iowa State vs. 12 Little Rock - Denver - TNT, 6:00
Iowa State Cyclones (1948 - 1956)
That Little Rock late against Purdue was truly spectacular, as was Purdue's simultaneous collapse, and not just because it made me some decent coin. I do still think that this club is for real and I think they will show it here by upsetting I-State to get to the Sweet Sixteen. The Cyclones did look good against Iona but let's be honest, Iona wasn't any good. 
Pick: Little Rock

Virginia vs. 9 Butler - Raleigh - TBS, 7:00
Virginia Cavaliers (1994 - Pres)Butler Bulldogs (2015 - Pres)
A very solid Bulldogs offense keeps them in any game, including one against a team as good defensively as the Cavaliers. In years past when they've had mediocre offenses, I'd be tempted for the upset but since UVA actually looks competent offensively now, they'll get the win here.
Pick: Virginia

Kansas vs. 9 Connecticut - Des Moines - CBS, 7:30
Kansas Jayhawks (1946 - 2005)UConn Huskies (2013 - Pres)
The Huskies put together a very nice late rally to outlast the Buffaloes of Colorado to get the chance to take on the number one overall seeded Jayhawks. Kevin Ollie's teams are never afraid of anybody and they will give Kansas a good fight until late when the superior offense of KU will be the difference.
Pick: Kansas

Utah vs. 11 Gonzaga - Denver - TNT, 8:30
Utah Utes (1972 - 1987)Gonzaga Bulldogs (1998 - Pres)
I by no means saw the thorough victory of the Zags over Seton Hall late on Thursday night but hey, it's March. And Gonzaga does have the frontcourt to match up as well as anybody with the frontcourt of the Utes. It's a tempting upset pick but I think the Utes are bound to move on.
Pick: Utah

North Carolina vs. 9 Providence - Raleigh - TBS, 9:30
North Carolina Tar Heels (1954 - 1967)Providence Friars (2000 - Pres)
With guys like Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, the Friars are powered by their offense and it was their offense that did just enough to get by USC. Their offense should make it a little interesting against the Tar Heels but it also plays right into their hands as UNC only has one of the elite offenses of the country.
Pick: North Carolina

Sunday, March 20th
Villanova vs. 7 Iowa - Brooklyn - CBS, 12:00
Villanova Wildcats (2004 - Pres)Iowa Hawkeyes (1999 - Pres)
This is a challenge for the Wildcats considering that they have not gotten out of the first weekend of the tournament since advancing to the 2009 Final Four. Now they should sail on by the Hawkeyes considering you never know which team of them you are going to get. With how sloppy they got against Temple, I don't have much confidence that this will be a game.
Pick: Villanova

Notre Dame vs. 14 Stephen F. Austin - Brooklyn - CBS, 2:30
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964 - Pres)Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (2002 - 2011)
Considering how terrific West Virginia has been defensively this season, for the Lumberjacks to smoke them by 14 was really impressive. Their methodical style proved to be a tough matchup for WVU and I think the same will be true against a Fighting Irish club that had to rally late to defeat Michigan.
Pick: Stephen F. Austin

Oklahoma vs. 10 VCU - Oklahoma City - CBS, 5:00
Oklahoma Sooners (1982 - 1995)Virginia Commonwealth Rams (2014 - Pres)
The Rams really clowned Oregon State, and me in the process with how much I had on the Beavers and the spread, but the Havoc style really makes them tough as we all know. Considering that CSU Bakersfield hung around the Sooners a lot longer than they should have, will we see more upsets? I don't see it but it will be close. Oklahoma just have too much talent.
Pick: Oklahoma

10 Syracuse vs. 15 Middle Tennessee - St. Louis - TNT, 6:00
Syracuse Orange (1992 - 2003)Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1998 - 2006)
Middle Tennessee may have pulled the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history on Friday considering that here in Vegas, Michigan State was the favorite to win the whole thing. I don't see them putting together that kind of a performance again here. I always love when teams that have no business being in the Big Dance do well and that applies for the Cuse here.
Pick: Syracuse

Maryland vs. 13 Hawaii - Spokane - TBS, 7:00
Maryland Terrapins (2001 - Pres)Hawaii Warriors (1998 - Pres)
Hawaii was fabulous in taking down California-Berkeley on Friday and considering they have a postseason ban coming for them next year, they've got nothing to lose here. We saw again with the Terrapins that they are so inconsistent despite having the talent you want and so I like the Rainbow Warriors to survive and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Pick: Hawaii

Texas A&M vs. 11 Northern Iowa - Oklahoma City - truTV, 7:30
Texas A&M Aggies (1981 - 2000)Northern Iowa Panthers (2002 - Pres)
With the way they pulled away and ultimately opened a can on the Green Bay Phoenix on Friday, the Aggies showed why they could be a darkhouse Final Four team out of the West region. Meanwhile, the Panthers won a rollicking affair with the Longhorns in memorable fashion with a half-court buzzer beater. Here, I think A&M will run away with it.
Pick: Texas A&M

Xavier vs. 7 Wisconsin - St. Louis - TNT, 8:30
Xavier Musketeers (1995 - 2007)Wisconsin Badgers (2002 - Pres)
Wisconsin had a reprehensible first half offensively against Pittsburgh but in the end, they rallied hard to get the win. If they fall deep early against a very sound Xavier team, they won't have the ability to come back like they did on Friday. Ultimately, the Musketeers are too good for them in my opinion.
Pick: Xavier

Oregon vs. 8 St. Joseph's - Spokane - TBS, 9:30
Oregon Ducks (1994 - 1998)St. Joseph's Hawks (2001 - Pres)
The Ducks blew the doors off of Holy Cross but we all saw that coming considering that a) Holy Cross was and is awful and b) they had to travel from Dayton to Spokane from the First Four. This will be a test for them with the Hawks thanks to their quality forwards but ultimately, an inconsistent St. Joe's defense will be their downfall.
Pick: Oregon

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