Thursday, March 26, 2009

At the sports desk: NCAA Sweet 16 picks

Let's see how I can do:

Louisville/Arizona--pick: LOUISVILLE. The Cardinals defense and press will be too tough; Arizona's impressive run ends.

Kansas/Michigan State--pick: MICHIGAN STATE. Kansas has done well to get this far--great job of rebuilding by Bill Self. But Michigan State is experienced, this game is Indianapolis, close to home for the Spartans and a place they've played before, and MSU is good.

Connecticut/Purdue--pick: PURDUE. The Boilers have some shooters who can hit 3s and mid-range jumpers, thus negating Thabeet. Plus I still think UConn eventually will miss the injured Jerome Dyson. Upset pick.

Missouri/Memphis--pick: MISSOURI. Mizzou like to press, is good at it, and can make shots. And I think Memphis' weak conference schedule will finally catch up with it--they're not as tested as is Mizzou.

Pittsburgh/Xavier--pick: PITT. Too much size, athletic ability, and ability to score both inside and from deep.

Villanova/Duke--pick: VILLANOVA. I love Villanova's guards and their center, Dante Cunningham. This will be a tough one--few teams are as tested and as well-coached as is Duke. But they rely too much on shooting the 3, and lack big men. I predict tonight, Duke's 3s won't fall.

North Carolina/Gonzaga--pick: NORTH CAROLINA. Gonzaga has a lot of tournament experience and savvy, thanks to the legacy the program has built and the continuation of it through Coach Mark Few. But Carolina has too many weapons, including an apparently serviceable Ty Lawson.

Syracuse/Oklahoma--pick: OKLAHOMA. This has the potential to be a barnburner. But Oklahoma has the bigs in Blake Griffin, and look for super-frosh Willie Warren to burn the Orange from deep and on drives to the hoop. Syracuse's defense can be questionable.