Games To Watch:
West Region-Oklahoma City
#7 BYU vs. #10 Florida-Thursday-12:30pm
This is the first game of the tournament and it should be a very good one. Florida has a major advantage up front, while BYU has a great backcourt. BYU is also the highest scoring team in the tournament at 83ppg. However Florida is out to prove they belong in the dance after missing the tournament the past two seasons.
East Region-San Jose
#6 Marquette vs. #11 Washington-Thursday-7:20pm
Both teams are very guard oriented and are led by versatile slashers. Marquette has Lazar Hayward (18.1ppg, 7.7rpg) and Washington has Quincy Poindexter (19.8ppg, 7.5rpg). Washington is a high scoring team at 79.8ppg and could pose problems for Marquette.
#4 Purdue vs. #13 Siena-Friday-2:30pm
Since losing star Robbie Hummel for the season, Purdue is 2-3 and that includes a 27-point blowout loss against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers are clearly not the same team without Hummel. Siena has won a first round NCAA Tournament game the past two years. An upset win by Siena shouldn't shock anyone this year.
#5 Texas A&M vs. #12 Utah St.-Friday-4:45pm
It's the match-up of the Aggies. The Utah St. Aggies were one of the last at-large teams to get in the tournament. Both teams play a fast-paced game and average over 71ppg. Both teams are also red hot. Utah St. had won 17 in a row before losing to New Mexico St. in the WAC title game. The Texas A&M Aggies are 9-3 in their last 12 games and two of those losses were to Kansas. The game is in Spokane, Washington so Utah St. has a slight geographical advantage.
#7 Oklahoma St. vs. #10 Georgia Tech-Friday-7:15pm
If you love star power, then this is the game for you. Oklahoma St. has high scoring Big 12 player of the year James Anderson. Georgia Tech has two future NBA first round picks in Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal. The winner of this game will get a crack at the nation's top player, Evan Turner and Ohio St. on Sunday.
#8 California vs. #9 Louisville-Friday-9:45pm
This game should be a shootout to say the least. Both teams average over 76ppg and have great guards. Louisville coach Rick Pitino loves to apply a lot of pressure but Cal guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher are very talented so it will be interesting. Whoever wins this game will likely see Duke on Sunday.
Bracket Picking Tips:
- Work Backwards. Work on your bracket from the outside in. Most people fill out their bracket with the first round first, then the second round next, etc. Pick your National Champion first, then your Final Four teams, then the Elite 8 and Sweet 16. Use a scratch sheet of paper to do this, then fill out your bracket.
- You win and lose your bracket in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Anyone can get lucky and pick a few upsets in the first two rounds but the second weekend of the dance truly tests greatness. For instance in one pool I was in last year, I picked 15 of the Sweet 16 teams right. I was feeling pretty good. But then I only picked one Final Four team right.
- Don't pick a bunch of upsets in the first two rounds. Just pick a few upsets of teams you think have been struggling lately or just look weak to you.
- 1-3 seeds usually win both of their first round games.
- Experienced teams and coaches usually go very far in the big dance. Check to see which teams were in the dance last year and which coaches have past tournament success.
- Great guard play and star power is also a key factor in the dance. The only National Championship winner this decade that didn't have a very good guard leading them was Syracuse in 2003. Sorry Gerry McNamara you were just average to me.
- At least one 12 seed is likely to upset a 5 seed in the first round.
- 8 vs. 9 and 7vs. 10 games are always a toss up. Make sure you analyze the match-up.
- When you get to the hard games to pick at in the Elite 8 and Final 4 where you have two great teams, always look at the types of teams that they lost to during the season. That is a MAJOR factor in picking your champion.
- Most importantly have fun and don't take it too seriously thus developing a gambling addiction like every former NBA player, a list that includes Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and now Allen Iverson.