Friday, March 27, 2009

Washburn's Friday Tourney Picks

(12) Arizona vs. (1) Louisville in Indianapolis. (UL by 9) Does the Wildcats' luck run out in Indy? Or can Arizona's three NBA caliber players continue their unlikely NCAA run? The trio of Nic Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill have finally played well together for a prolonged time, but the Cardinals are on a mission and Terrence Williams is the best player in America that nobody knows about. Arizona won't be rattled by the Louisville pressure because it has endured a treacherous schedule but the Cardinals will prevail in the end. Louisville 78, Arizona 69.

(3) Syracuse vs. (2) Oklahoma in Memphis (Okla by 1) Many folks are picking the Orange to move to the Elite Eight but I think there's something special about this Oklahoma team that will carry it to the Final Four. The Orange have no answer for Blake Griffin besides fouls from Rich Jackson and Arinze Onuaku. They are going to have to rough him up and Jonny Flynn will have to win the matchup with Austin Johnson but the Sooners are a team of destiny. Oklahoma 67, Syracuse 60.

(3) Kansas vs. (2) Michigan State in Indianapolis. (MSU by 1 1/2) The Jayhawks weren't supposed to be here. They lost nearly everybody from their National Championship team but thanks to the coaching of Bill Self and the amazing seasons of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. Kansas lost to Michigan State on Jan. 10, but this is a different team. And the Spartans weren't exactly impressive in the past few weeks, losing to Ohio State in the Big 10 Tournament and then needing some favorable calls down the stretch to beat USC in the second round. This is not a great Michigan State team and it will find that out tonight. Kansas 65, Michigan State 58.

(4) Gonzaga vs. (1) North Carolina in Memphis. (UNC by 8 1/2) The most interesting of the four games because no one knows how Gonzaga will reach against one of the nation's elite teams. The Zags didn't fare so well against Memphis last month, getting blown out at home on national television. But if Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytfelt and Matt Bouldin want to go down as one of the great teams in Gonzaga history, they need to find a way to win this game. The Tarheels struggled with LSU in the second round and are vulnerable. This will be the stunner of the tournament. Gonzaga 69, North Carolina 68.

Washburn's Thursday record: 3-1.

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