Friday, March 16, 2007

Picks for 2nd round games of Saturday, March 17

All Times Eastern

1:10 pm Ohio State (-7) Xavier - Ohio State romped in the first round, while Xavier barely got past stubborn BYU. If Greg Oden isn't enough to get Ohio State into the next round, his often overlooked supporting cast will be. Xavier has no good answer for Oden, but their emotion could make this closer than it should be. Still, the Buckeyes are looking very solid and should win handily, by 10 to 15.

3:20 pm Maryland (-5.5) Butler - The Terrapins showed some resiliency against Davidson, a team more than willing to go up and down the court in a hurry. Butler, however, will display more defense and could be the best defensive team the Terps have seen this season. Maryland has a size advantage inside which they should use to their advantage, but they'll have to be at the top of their game (and they seem to be) to get by the Bulldogs. The Terrapins should move on.

3:40 pm Texas A&M (-2.5) Louisville - A great 2nd round matchup here with plenty of talent on both sides. The Cardinals and Aggies are two of the better teams in this bracket and either could emerge and go even further. There's little to separate these squads, so taking the points seem to be the only option as the game figures to go down to the wire.

5:40 pm Washington State (-1.5) Vanderbilt - If you're looking for Cinderella, the Vanderbilt Commodores seem to have the right size foot for the slipper. Vandy's won as many big games as have the Cougars and so far, the SEC looks to be pretty solid. Both of these teams have at least three players who could step up and be stars, but keep your eyes on Vandy's Shan Foster and Washington State's Ivory Clark. Vanderbilt's defense may be a little better than anyone cares to admit and that could lead to a big win.

5:50 pm Pittsburgh (-6 1/2) Virginia Commonwealth - VCU proved how dangerous they are by ousting Duke in the first round. Other teams might have folded more easily against the Rams' relentless pressure, but coach K had his troops prepared and they played to the best of their ability. VCU just wanted it more and while point guard Eric Maynor was the star, his backcourt mates, B.A. Walker and Jesse Pellot-Rosa, may strut their stuff here. VCU has to put the clamps down on Pitt center Aaron Gray, who looms as the X-factor here. Another thing to watch is the crows reaction in Buffalo, where there is no love for anything from Pittsburgh. That also will work to the Rams' favor, who are the pick to spring another, even more stunning, upset here.Sports Training Products

5:50 pm Georgetown (-8) Boston College - Boston College was impressive in their opening round win over Texas Tech. Their interior defense was pretty good, but it's going to be a different story against Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green inside. The Hoyas look like the best team in this bracket right now and though Boston College may keep this close, Georgetown will wear them down and out of the tournament. Georgetown will win and more than likely cover the spread.

8:10 pm UCLA (-7) Indiana - The Hoosiers didn't exactly shoot the lights out in their win over Gonzaga on Thursday, and they'll have to do better than 9-25 from beyond the arc if they plan on advancing past the Bruins. UCLA is, after all, the #2 seed in the West bracket, and they look to be pretty well primed for this game after routing Weber State by 28 points. If the Bruins are on their game, this one could be over by halftime.

8:20 pm North Carolina(-10) Michigan State - Only a fool would not appreciate the coaching matchup between Tom Izzo and Roy Williams here. Izzo will have his guys as ready as a team can be and they aren't going to be the least bit fazed or intimidated by Carolina's high-octane offense. Izzo's plan is for his guys to play the kind of fundamentally sound defense for which his teams are known and work the ball inside. That's a good tactic against anyone, and if they can get inside Tyler Hansbrough's head, they can pull off the upset. The Tar Heels will likely win this game, though taking the generous gift of 10 points from Vegas offers the makings of a profitable wager. The Spartans have only lost by more than 10 points three times this season. Their style of play and Izzo's understanding of momentum and pace usually keeps their games close.

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