After Sunday, the Madness might not fall off, but the pace of the games will. Sadly, we won’t have four games on at once so those with four-way screens will have to wait until next year to use such devices properly. We have all sorts of good match ups on Sunday – not that there was anything wrong with the action on Saturday.
Because of the carnage on Friday, there are only three games with the both of the opening rounds higher seeds. Two of those games pit one seeds against eight seeds, and the other is a Florida State-Cincinnati game that should be slow-paced but well fought. We also have two games of double-digit seeds facing off. Few people predicted the battles of South Florida-Ohio and Xavier-Lehigh, but here we are. And here we go. For those who have not stopped by or just forgot over the past couple of days, here is the code: players that I recommend will be in bold, players that I feel are priced correctly will be in italics, and players that you
should avoid will be struck through.
3. Georgetown vs. 11. North Carolina State (Midwest Region, Columbus, 12:15 PM – all times Eastern)
I wonder if victorious coaches every root for the higher seeded opponents just so that they know their gameplans will be usable. The Hoyas were lined up to play San Diego State, but the Aztecs could not best North Carolina State. So we have a Big East-ACC battle and Georgetown is not one of the teams heading to the ACC. Unlike the Aztecs, Georgetown has plenty of players on the interior and Henry Sims ($157,000) might be a nice player to look at. The Hoya center has scored at least 15 points in his last three games. Freshman forward Otto Porter ($156,000) has also been playing well with four straight games of 14 points or more. I think both players will find room to operate in the paint against the Wolfpack. North Carolina State forward C.J. Leslie ($181,000) will try to stop them, but defense is not his forte. He is an impressive offensive player who has scored at least 15 points in eight of his last nine games. My guess is that he will score around 18 points in this one to earn his salary. Lorenzo Brown ($150,000) also seems appropriately priced. He has provided at least 15 points in his last three games and has hit five of his last six three-point attempts. Brown had 11 points and Leslie had eight in the Wolfpack’s loss to Georgetown at the start of the 2010-11 season.
1. Michigan State vs. 8. Saint Louis (West Region, Columbus, 2:45 PM)
Although Saint Louis currently resides in the A10, their style of basketball should be something the Spartans have seen before. Under coach Rick Majerus, the Billikens are a Big Ten-style team that drains each drop out of each possession and relies on defense. Whether this is an advantage to Michigan State is not certain. They should not overlook Saint Louis, even though the Billikens did not have any huge wins during the season. Draymond Green ($193,000) scored 24 points in the win over Long Island to go along with his 12 rebounds and ten assists for his second career NCAA tournament triple-double. He won’t have as much room to operate against Saint Louis, but he may get to 19 points.
Brandon Wood ($130,000) took just six shots in the win over Blackbirds and was limited to seven points. He remains a dicey option, although he did score 21 poitns in the Big Ten final against Ohio State. Senior forward Brian Conklin ($167,000) has scored in double figures in his last six games and no fewer than 14 in his last three. Against Memphis, he scored ten points from the free throw line, but Michigan State is bigger and deeper than the Tigers. Kwamain Mitchell ($157,000) burned Memphis for 22 points and should be able to score 15 points.
1. North Carolina vs. 8. Creighton (Midwest Region, Greensboro, 5:15 PM)
This has been dubbed the Battle of Ames, Iowa. Harrison Barnes ($182,000) and Doug McDermott ($241,000) played together in high school in Ames and now get to face off for the right to go to the Sweet 16. Both players might be slightly overpriced based on their recent production, but they may be willing to take a few extra shots as they try to go at each other. Barnes has only topped 18 points once in his last seven games. During that span, the sophomore has made just 5-for-26 (19.2%) from three-point range. While Barnes has struggled from the outside, Tyler Zeller ($197,000) has had more messes to clean up. The seven-footer has scored at least 14 points in his last nine games and 59 in his last three. The Bluejays have some interior muscle, but they aren’t likely to stop Zeller.
Kendall Marshall ($147,000) continued to double-double with points and assists against Vermont. He only required seven shots to score 11 points, but he’d need to score 15 points to earn his salary. Marshall has only topped 15 points twice this season. I was mad at myself for not recommending freshman James Michael McAdoo ($110,000) in the first round. John Henson ($140,000) did not play and McAdoo had 11 points. Henson may be limited again, so I will not bet against McAdoo scoring at least a dozen. McDermott should be into this game and I would not be surprised to see him score 30 points for the seventh time this season. Let’s be conservative and say he scores 24. Antoine Young ($141,000) only scored two points in the win over Alabama, but he should be a decent play against the Tar Heels who like to get up and down the court.
7. Florida vs. 15. Norfolk State (West Region, Omaha, 6:10 PM)
Norfolk State was the darlings of the college basketball world for, oh, about 45 minutes before Lehigh knocked off Duke. Maybe it was more than that, but the nation’s attention span isn’t long enough to keep two 15-seed in mind. The Spartans got an interesting draw with Florida up next. The Gators do not have the strongest interior defensively, but they do play very hard for coach Billy Donovan. Spartan center Kyle O’Quinn ($191,000) will have to deal with bigger players than Missouri could throw at home. He only topped 19 points in the win over the Tigers (with 26), so he isn’t the greatest play, but he could manage to hit his salary. Other than his three-point game against Florida A&M in the MEAC tournament,
Pendarvis Williams ($153,000) has scored at least 17 points in his last three other games. He had 20 points against Missouri and hit four threes. It was the fifth time this season that the sophomore had knocked down at least four triples. My guess is that he can’t do it again. Freshman Bradley Beal ($154,000) has taken the lead scoring role for the Gators. He had 14 points in the win over Virginia and I think he could double that total against the Spartans. While Erik Murphy’s ($142,000) place in the offense has increased over the last two weeks, I don’t think he is a good play in this one. He had five points against the Cavaliers and I expect single digits again. Patric Young ($116,000) is not a skilled offensive player. He may get in foul trouble as he tries to check O’Quinn, so I think he’ll be in single digits as well.
12. South Florida vs. 13. Ohio (Midwest Region, Nashville, 7:10 PM)
Not many people expected the 12-13 match up in the Midwest. South Florida had to win the play-in game just to get here. Ohio pulled their second double-digit seed upset in the last three years by beating Michigan. In that game,
D.J. Cooper ($199,000) shot with uncharacteristic efficiency. He hit 7-for-11 from the field for his first game of better than 50% since Dec. 30. The 5-foot-9 guard has been scoring well and has provided 18 points in each of his last four games, but he’ll be hard pressed to get 15 against the slow-paced Bulls. Former Ohio State Buckeye Walter Offutt ($106,000) is a better bet. He has scored in double figures in three of his last four games and has the type of offensive diversity that might cause problems for USF. Bulls’ guard Anthony Collins ($146,000) doesn’t often get to play against opponents who are smaller than he is. Unlike Cooper, Collins is an efficient scorer who has hit 50.8% of his shots this season. He has scored in double digits in nine of his last ten games and should have good success against the Bobcats. Victor Rudd Jr. ($138,000) transferred from Arizona State prior to the 2011-12 season and has been an inconsistent scoring presence. He has double-digit points in his last four games, but had only scored 14 points combined in his four previous games. He is quite reliant on his three-point shot and is only a medium good play.
10. Xavier vs. 15. Lehigh (South Region, Greensboro, 7:40 PM)
Two of the best guards in the nation square off when the Musketeers and Mountain Hawks meet. Junior C.J. McCollum ($261,000) burst onto the national scene by leading Lehigh past Duke. College basketball enthusiasts have known about McCollum for awhile since he is a career 21.0 point per game scorer. McCollum has scored at least 27 points in his last three games and should be a decent bet to get 26 points in this one. On the Xavier side, we have senior Tu Holloway ($229,000). Other than shooting a little less, he was as good in his senior season as in his breakout junior campaign. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.0 assists, but had some very poor games. In March, Holloway has been nothing but outstanding. He has scored at least 17 points in all five games and hit at least 20 in four games. Holloway opened the 2012 tournament with 25 points against Notre Dame, who likely plays fiercer defense than the Mountain Hawks. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Xavier would have one of the best backcourt duos with
Mark Lyons ($135,000), but the junior struggled in A10 play. He had only eight points against the Fighting Irish. The key to the game for the Musketeers may be Kenny Frease ($129,000). The seven-foot center will present a size problem for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh forward Gabe Knutson ($153,000) may be the antidote to Mr. Frease. He has scored 40 points in his last two games and was perfect from the field against Duke.
2. Kansas vs. 10. Purdue (Midwest Region, Omaha, 8:40 PM)
The best of the Big 12 meets the middle of the Big Ten in this game of Jayhawks and Boilermakers. The two teams met twice in the 1990′s in the NCAA tournament with Kansas winning a second round game in 1997 and Purdue winning in the Sweet 16 in 1994. This is the rubber game and Thomas Robinson ($198,000) will want to take advantage of his size in the paint. The 6-foot-9 junior has scored at least 15 points in six straight games, but hasn’t had a breakout game in postseason play. My guess is that it happens against the Boilermakers who will hound him, but be unable to check him.
Tyshawn Taylor ($203,000) was held to ten points in the win over Detroit on Friday. He only took eight shots, which equaled his low during 2012. For the first time this season, Taylor did not attempt a free throw, which is a bad sign. I’d pass on Taylor, but you may want to try Elijah Johnson ($147,000) who has scored at least 15 points in his last three games. Johnson is 9-for-17 on threes in that span. Sophomore guard Terone Johnson ($162,000) had 21 points for the Boilermakers in their win over St. Mary’s He was 9-for-13 from the field and has made at least 50% of his shots in six of his last seven games. Kansas plays tough defense, but Johnson has been scoring on everyone. Robbie Hummel ($155,000) failed to score more than ten points for the third straight game. The fifth-year senior has combined for 26 points over that span and has ceded a lot of shots to Johnson.
3. Florida State vs. 6. Cincinnati (East Region, Nashville, 9:40 PM)
Were I more succinct, I would just tell you to stay away from this game because it will likely be low scoring. However, it is my honor and my duty to bring you 2000 words per day, so I must soldier on and give you some picks. The Seminoles were able to survive St. Bonaventure in the first round despite not getting anything from guard
Michael Snaer ($188,000). When I say not anything, I mean zero points. The junior guard went 0-for-7 from the field, including five three-point attempts. He had scored at least 16 points in his four previous games, so he will bounce back. Yet, he likely won’t earn his contract. In a game that will feature plenty of halfcourt action, Bernard James ($144,000) should get plenty of opportunities. He scored a season-high 19 points against the Bonnies and could net 15 against the Bearcats. With just 24 points in his last two games, I think Yancy Gates ($171,000) is overpriced. The senior forward averaged 12.3 points this season, but managed to score 16 or more in three straight games, including two in the Big East tournament. He’ll face James and the other Seminole bigs and won’t get much help from the Bearcat forwards. I’d prefer to take a risk on Sean Kilpatrick ($124,000), who is a good shooter on a tough streak. He has only scored 13 points in his last two games and has gone 2-for-7 on threes. If he can score 15 points, he’ll be a great bargain and the Bearcats may win.