20 March 2008

March Madness: My Picks for Today's Games

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament starts in under three hours (unless you count the play-in game). 16 games will be played today. My picks for all 16 follow; these are the same picks I've made on my CBS Sportsline and Facebook brackets.

12:20 PM ET No. 3 Xavier over No. 14 Georgia
Georgia's hot, but Xavier's got much better talent and balance.

12:25 PM ET No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Portland State
This one will be over by the first TV timeout.

12:30 PM ET No. 12 Temple over No. 5 Michigan State
The ever-fascinating 12-5 matchup, and the first upset of the tournament. MSU, to me, is too dependent on a streaky Drew Neitzel to pick over a steady Temple team.

2:30 PM ET No. 6 Marquette over No. 11 Kentucky
Dominic James is the real deal, and Kentucky's without Patrick Patterson.

2:50 PM ET No. 11 Baylor over No. 6 Purdue
I don't trust teams that depend heavily on freshmen; Purdue's leading scorer and leading rebounder are both in their first year.

2:55 PM ET No. 9 Kent State over No. 8 UNLV
The Golden Flashes are in the tournament for the 5th time in the last 10 years; no jitters there.

3:00 PM ET No. 4 Pittsburgh over No. 13 Oral Roberts
I very nearly picked ORU in this game - but Pitt is just too talented.

5:00 PM ET No. 3 Stanford over No. 14 Cornell
I like Cornell. I really do. But Stanford starts two skilled seven-footers.

7:10 PM ET No. 6 USC over No. 11 Kansas State
The day's marquee matchup, as OJ Mayo takes on Michael Beasley. I expect Beasley to put up huge numbers - but he doesn't have the supporting cast that Mayo has, and Beastly won't be able to make up the difference.

7:10 PM ET No. 2 Duke over No. 15 Belmont
Belmont's got the shooting to hang in this game for a while, but they don't have the same amount of depth as the Blue Devils, who will run the Atlantic Sun champs into the ground.

7:20 PM ET No. 13 Winthrop over No. 4 Washington State
I'm partial to teams with guys named Taj; also, Winthrop is a battle-tested (they beat Notre Dame in the tournament last year) and talented group.

7:25 PM ET No. 9 Texas A&M over No. 8 Brigham Young
And now we get to two teams I know nothing about... except that, when in doubt, I always pick against the religious school. Why? Because their ethics keep them from recruiting the really good players.

9:40 PM ET No. 3 Wisconsin over No. 14 Cal State Fullerton
No offense to the Titans, who have a really cool mascot, but it's Wisconsin.

9:40 PM ET No. 10 Arizona over No. 7 West Virginia
A mild upset, I suppose; but Arizona, when they're healthy, are as talented as any team in the country.

9:50 PM ET No. 5 Notre Dame over No. 12 George Mason
Because Luke Harangody is a beast.

9:55 PM ET No. 1 UCLA over No. 16 Mississippi Valley State
What, you expect me to pick against UCLA in the first round? Everybody knows they only lose in the final four.

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