Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday's Tournament Preview and Picks

(14) Stephen F. Austin vs. (3) Syracuse in Miami (Syr by 12 1/2) Don't sleep on the Lumberjacks, they defend the 3-pointer better than anyone in the nation and could be a tough out for the Orange. Syracuse's record in first-round games isn't exactly sparking, so look for a close game than expected. SFA center Matt Kingsley could be in for a big game. Syracuse 78, SFA 68.

(14) North Dakota State vs. (3) Kansas in Minneapolis (KU by 10 1/2) The Jayhawks have been on upset alert since this matchup was announced and the Bison should put up a fight for at least a half. But this Kansas team is different from those that faltered in first rounds under Roy Williams. Kansas will pull away in the second half while NDSU along with Ben Woodside put up a respectable showing in its first ever Division I Tournament. Kansas 71, NDSU 62.

(9) Tennessee vs. (8) Oklahoma State in Dayton (Tenn by 2) The most even matchup of the day, the Volunteers have a wealth of talent but were wildly inconsistent this season. Tyler Smith is a gifted player but OSU has too much depth and consistency in this one. The Cowboys' James Anderson could be a top NBA draft prospect and this could be his final game at Oklahoma State. OSU 65, Tennessee 63.

(11) Utah State vs. (6) Marquette In Boise, Idaho (Marq by 4 1/2) What to make of Utah State? This is a team that has dominated in the Big West/WAC for years but the Aggies have yet to prove their mid-major worth on the NCAA stage. Playing the short-handed Eagles in Boise could be their chance. Utah State 67, Marquette 66.

(11) Temple vs. (6) Arizona State in Miami (ASU by 4 1/2) The Owls are led by gifted scorer Dionte Christmas but the Sun Devils are playing well and primed for a tournament run. This is a key game for James Harden, who could use a couple of sparkling games to raise his draft stock. ASU will move on. Arizona State 71, Temple 65.

(16) East Tennessee State vs. (1) Pittsburgh in Dayton (Pitt by 20) The Buccaneers have no one to handle DeJuan Blair in the paint and will have to rely on guile and hot shooting to compete. A player to watch is Kevin Tiggs for ETSU, which is not going to be the first 16 seed to knock off a No. 1. Pitt 82, ETSU 61.

(14) Cornell vs. (3) Missouri in Boise, Idaho (Mizz by 13) The Tigers could for far in this tournament and Ivy League teams not named Princeton usually give opposition little resistance in the tournament. F Ryan Wittman should be a fun player to watch against Missouri's pressing defense, but this team lost by 15 to Indiana, which won one Big 10 game. Missouri 86, Cornell 59.

(11) Dayton vs. (6) West Virginia in Minneapolis (WVU by 8 1/2) The Mountaineers are primed for another mini tournament run while the Flyers are one of those teams that scare opponents but never really break through with the big win. Things won't change this time. West Virginia 71, Dayton 66.

(16) Morehead State vs. (1) Louisville in Dayton (Lou by 17 1/2) OK, these teams met in the early season and the Cardinals won by 38 points. Morehead State will play off adrenalin for a few minutes but Louisville, led by Terrence Williams, will not take these Eagles lightly as a No. 16 seed. This one could get ugly quickly. Louisville 88, Morehead State 58.

(12) Arizona vs. (5) Utah in Miami (Ariz by 1) The question for you college basketball fans is whether to be fooled by Arizona's talent or take Utah's consistency. Tough call. This is not the first time the Wildcats had the talent to make a run. Remember Marcus Williams a few years ago? That team lost in the first round to Purdue. However, this is the last chance for a bunch of Cats, and they will prevail. Arizona 63, Utah 58.

(10) USC vs. (7) Boston College in Minneapolis (USC by 2) The Trojans are hot and riding a Pac-10 Tournament title. Cal didn't fare very well in the first Pac-10-ACC matchup of the tournament but this Trojans teams has been to three straight tournaments and are tested. Tyrese Rice will be key for the Eagles. USC 71, Boston College 68.

(13) Portland State vs. (4) Xavier in Boise, Idaho (Xav by 11) The Vikings are a talented club that won't be scared of Xavier because they have played some heavy competition but the Musketeers are rugged and should survive the scoring onslaught of Jeremiah Dominguez. Xavier 74, Portland State 67.

(9) Siena vs. (8) Ohio State in Dayton (OSU by 3) Why does Ohio State, as an eighth seed, get to play a virtual home game in the first round? Doesn't make much sense, but this could be the best Siena team in years and it probably won't make a difference. The Saints have four players who average 10 points or better, including G Kenny Hasbrouck. Siena 59, Ohio State 56.

(13) Cleveland State vs. (4) Wake Forest in Miami (Wake by 7 1/2) Don't sleep on the Vikings, something the ghost of Mouse McFadden from the '86 tournament run exists. This will be a difficult game for the Demon Deacons, but if they are my Final Four pick, they can't lose in the first round, can't they? Wake Forest 61, Cleveland State 59.

(15) Robert Morris vs. (2) Michigan State in Minneapolis (MSU by 17) The Spartans are the best the Big 10 has to offer and they should blitz the Colonials out of Pittsburgh. But watch out for Robert Morris guard Jeremy Chappell. Michigan State could be out in the second round, however, if it doesn't stay focused. MSU 78, RMU 63.

(12) Wisconsin vs. (5) Florida State in Boise, Idaho (FSU by 2 1/2) The Badgers are a vogue pick to go to the Sweet 16 because of their difficult style and stanch defense, but the Seminoles could be a special team primed for a run behind Toney Douglas. No way Leonard Hamilton goes out in the first round with this squad. Florida State 67, Wisconsin 58.

Washburn's Thursday record: 12-4.