Thursday, March 26, 2009

Washburn's Thursday's Tourney Picks

(5) Purdue vs. (1) Connecticut in Glendale, Ariz. (UConn by 6 1/2) The Boilermakers won a rugged game against Washington and now need the Huskies, who have glided in their first two games. Now there is a cloud hovering over UConn because of allegations of recruiting violations of a player named Nate Miles who was eventually kicked out of school. The Huskies should be able to advance easily in this game because they have the superior talent. Guard play is important with A.J. Price and Craig Austrie and Purdue got a lot of our JaJuan Johnson in the second-round win over Washington that probably won't occur with Hasheem Thabeet in the house. UConn 78, Purdue 63.

(4) Xavier vs. (1) Pittsburgh in Boston, Mass. (Pittsburgh by 6 1/2) The Panthers struggled in their first two games and there is no reason why they won't against the skilled Musketeers, who are surprisingly back in the Sweet 16 after losing key players from last year's Elite Eight club. Pitt has yet to play a standout game in the tournament and Xavier's defense and athleticism will make this another close one. DeJuan Blair and Sam Young have carried Pitt but watch out for Xavier's B.J. Raymond. Pittburgh 75, Xavier 72.

(3) Missouri vs. (2) Memphis in Glendale, Ariz. (Memphis by 4 1/2) Get those eyes ready to scan the television back and forth because this will be a track meet between two teams with the same philosophy. Missouri and Memphis both like to run and press and harass its opponents into turnovers and transition baskets. So who will win out? Missouri hasn't been this far since Kareem Rush took the Tigers to the Sweet 16 in 2002. Inexperience should play a role here, especially since Missouri needed a Marquette gaffe from keep from blowing a big lead in the second round. This will be entertaining for 37 minutes, but Memphis will prevail behind Tyreke Evans. Memphis 91, Missouri 83.

(3) Villanova vs. (2) Duke in Boston, Mass. (Duke by 2) Duke really needs this game to redefine its program. The Blue Devils have been quite disappointing in the NCAA Tournament the past several years and need to go far to gain back some respect. The Blue Devils are a different teams that those separated ones with soft guards and no big man. Gerald Henderson brings toughness and Kyle Singler is a talented guard, but they will need to match or exceed Villanova's guards of Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher. Dante Cunningham is a monster in the paint and that will be the difference. Villanova 70, Duke 66.

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