Saturday, March 17, 2007

2nd Round Picks for Sunday, March 18

All Times Eastern

Sports Training Products12:10 pm Tennessee (-2.5) Virginia - Both of these squads won their openers by wide margins, but neither expects this 4-5 matchup to be a rout. There isn't much separating these two teams, as evidenced by their games against North Carolina, a common opponent. The Vols lost by 14 to the Tar Heels, whereas Virginia lost by 10. A slight edge has to go to Tennessee, as they have won 5 of their last 6, while the Cavaliers are just 3-3 over the same span. The winner gets Ohio State in the Sweet 16.

2:15 pm Memphis (-5) Nevada - The Wolf Pack survived against a solid Creighton team in overtime and that win may have helped them prepare for Memphis. As for the Tigers, they haven't been in a close contest in a long while and still hold the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games. One wonders how they will perform in a tight game. Nevada's star big man, Nick Fazekas, will have his hands full against the Tigers' front line, which is big and physical, but the backcourt matchup between Ramon Sessions and Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts should be interesting as well. Joey Dorsey of Memphis is very physical inside and should prove to be the key for the Tigers, but the Wolf Pack's Marcelus Kemp will be the difference maker in a major upset.

2:30 pm Wisconsin (-5.5) UNLV - Now that Wisconsin has a tournament win under their belts, they'll probably be a little less tentative offensively which spells real trouble for the Runnin' Rebels. Another bonus for the Badgers is that Brian Butch is available, and his inside presence could provide a real lift. For UNLV, the victory over Georgia Tech in the first round stretched their winning streak to 8 games, but they haven't yet met a team like the Badgers or players with the skills of Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor. Tucker will surely get his points, but if Taylor gets hot from outside, it will be a long, long day for the kids from Nevada.

2:40 pm Southern Illinois (-1) Virginia Tech - The Hokies were fortunate to squeak past Illinois in their opener, and will face an even better defense in the Salukis, the highest-seeded mid-major in the tournament at #4 in the West. The oddsmakers seem to be taking the position that the Salukis are not quite as good as their seeding, but it would pay to go against them here. A win by Southern Illinois puts them in the Sweet 16, where they belong. Their tight defense and disciplined style should serve them well here. They've lost just once in the last 15 games and actually own a win over Hokies this season, a 69-64 home win back in November. It should be close, but eventually, Southern Illinois advances.

2:50 pm Oregon (-3.5) Winthrop - After Winthrop's victory over Notre Dame, everybody is wondering just how far the Eagles can fly. While the guard play may prove to be fairly even in this game, Oregon doesn't have and answer for Craig Bradshaw, who led the Eagles with 24 points in their opening round win. It will be up to Oregon to use ball movement and three-pointers to overcome a very worthy opponent. The Eagles have won 19 straight, but prior to that run they show losses to North Carolina, Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas A&M, the closest of those being by 6 to the Tar Heels. Oregon shows wins over Georgetown, UCLA, USC, Arizona and Washington State. Edge, and the win, to the Ducks.

4:45 pm Florida (-11.5) Purdue - Purdue finished tied for 4th in the Big 10 with Illinois and Iowa. The Hawkeyes didn't make the tourney and the Illini are already out. The Boilermakers beat a sub-par Arizona team, which also didn't belong. In what looks like the biggest mismatch of the day, Florida should cruise past Purdue by 20.

5:05 pm Kansas (-8) Kentucky - The Wildcats outlasted a somewhat limited Villanova team in the opening round as the Jayhawks had a shoot-around against overmatched Niagara. This one figures to be a little closer for Kansas, but they are of much higher caliber than Kentucky.

5:20 pm Texas (-2.5) USC - The weekend closes out with one of the more promising matchups of the tournament. Texas comes fully loaded with freshmen Kevin Durant, Damian James and D. J. Augustin. Add sophomore A. J. Abrams to the mix and the Longhorns have the youngest squad in the the tourney. USC has played a tough PAC-10 schedule, is one of the best defensive teams in the country and will be put to the test by the exuberant Texans. Meanwhile, the Longhorns have lost a lot of close games, probably because they don't play much defense. Texas is a 4 seed, USC a 5, but this one will go to the Trojans, who have the edge in maturity.

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