Commish Picks: NCAA Tournament, 1st & 2nd Rounds

Posted on March 14, 2011 by

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March Madness is finally here, read the picks below and don’t forget to share your thoughts, concurring opinions, and disagreements.

First Round

UTSA v. Alabama St.

Final Verdict: UTSA

UAB v. Clemson

Clemson hung around in their overtime loss in the ACC tournament, that’s enough to get my nod.

Final Verdict: Clemson

USC v. VCU

With their coach running a muck in hotels, USC will be distracted and fall

Final Verdict: VCU

-Commissioner Byrd

O’Neill is back on the court as their coach and are playing their best basketball of the season. VCU is noted as a team surrounded by a lot of controversy in them even getting a bid over Colorado and other teams. Regardless, I see Vucevic and Stephenson being too much for VCU to handle. If Fontan steps up big, the Trojans ride this to a ‘W.”

Final Verdict: USC

-Commissioner Quillin

UNC-Ash v. Ark-LR

Final Verdict: UNC-Ash

Second Round

East

Ohio St. v. UTSA

UTSA put on a clinic for Alabama State, but nothing short of divine intervention could keep the Buckeyes form trucking them en route to a nice and easy “W.” Best thing that could happen here for the rest of the East Bracket could be that UTSA puts up a little bit more of a fight than anticipated and forces Ohio State to dive into their bench a bit more than they would like to and/or are forced to play Sullinger more than they would like to.

Final Verdict: Ohio St.

-Commissioner Quillin

George Mason v. Villanova

Don’t mess with the battle tested Big East

Final Verdict: Villanova

-Commissioner Byrd

George Mason has had a relatively quiet year, but has put up an impressive record, 26-6. I don’t care what team you are, 26 wins means you are doing something right. Indeed, Villanova came from the big bad Big East, but they did not have the sort of season they were hoping to and rely heavily on their guard Fisher. This might be an upset. But, I feel good taking Villanova. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Final Verdict: Villanova

-Commissioner Quillin

West Virginia v. Clemson

Need I repeat myself?

Final Verdict: West Virginia

-Commissioner Byrd

West Virginia should handle Clemson quite easily, but Coach Huggins & Co. have had issues in production throughout the season. Can they step it up on the big stage? Clemson is already in Tourney mode and earned a “W.” We shall see. I am taking the Mountaineers in a potentially close and drawn out fight.

-Commissioner Quillin

Kentucky v. Princeton

With a buzzer beater to steal a NCAA Tournament birth over Harvard, Princeton is just happy to be, A.) out of Jersey and in Florida and B.) in the tournament to begin with. Kentucky should take care of business here fairly effortlessly. But, let’s not forget what Cornell did last year in a little surprise Ivy League tournament run to the Sweet Sixteen. Kentucky is well coached un Calipari and I do not foresee the SAT scores daunting the Wildcats.

Final Verdict: Kentucky

-Commissioner Quillin

Xavier v. Marquette

Certainly spent some time thinking this one through but, hey you gotta program the upsets in somewhere right?

Final Verdict: Marquette

-Commissioner Byrd

Both teams have had decent, but not great seasons. However, in the spirit of loyalty (cough), I have to pull for my current Arizona Wildcats Coach, Sean Miller’s former post. Xavier was good to Coach Miller and Coach Miller has been good to us. This is such a toss up game, we have to stay true to the family. Neither team has a better home court advantage given that Cleveland is pretty equidistant from both schools. I have to got Xavier.

Final Verdict: Xavier

-Commissioner Quillin

Syracuse v. Indiana St.

Alright maybe I am obsessed with the Big East

Final Verdict: Syracuse

-Commissioner Byrd

Syracuse is a team that I feel has gotten a little too much hype for their worth this season, not along the lines of a Michigan State or Kansas State type of season, but just not performing under the bright lights. They should easily beat Indiana St., but I wouldn’t look for them to go much further, for I think Xavier might have a nice KO sort of assault waiting for them. That is, unless Syracuse finds consistency between now and Sunday.

Final Verdict: Syracuse

-Commissioner Quillin

Washington v. Georgia

I trust many have said it before me, but uh...this kid is good

After watching Isaiah Thomas go Kobe Bryant on my Arizona Wildcats, I’m a believer in this team.

Final Verdict: Washington

-Commissioner Byrd

Inconsistent. Inconsistent. Inconsistent. As much as it hurts me to say, I hope that the win of my Arizona Wildcats in the PAC-10 Tournament gave the Huskies enough spark and energy to make a splash in the tournament. I see them beating Georgia if Thomas continues his heater he is on. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that sniper of a shooter C.J Wilcox have his number called more often as the tournament gets on.

Final Verdict: Washington

-Commissioner Quillin

North Carolina v. LIU

Winners get their name spelled out so we never forget it, losers get abbreviations because there’s no need to remember.

Final Verdict: UNC

-Commissioner Byrd

The Tar Heels will take care of business. That is all there is to say. I foresee Coach Williams even bringing in some youngins to get some tournament experience.

-Commissioner Quillin

West

Duke v. Hampton

Duke coasts to an easy win. Nothing to fret in Hampton. They are happy to be there and extremely disheartened in ther luck of the draw. Ohh well, better luck next season Hampton.

Final Verdict: Duke

-Commissioner Quillin

Michigan v. Tennessee

Don’t be fooled by the final score of the Big Ten tournament game, Michigan ain’t that close to beating Ohio St.

Final Verdict: Tennesee

-Commissioner Byrd

As much as I dislike Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl, for he is a cheater in every meaning of the term, I see him beating an overly elated Michigan team who is just coming off and unexpected performance in the Big Ten Tournament. Pearl is a lot of things, one of them is a decent coach with an eccentric fashion sense.

Final Verdict: Tennessee

-Commissioner Quillin

Arizona v. Memphis

Although the Arizona v. Memphis game will already be an exciting matchup simply because it's March Madness, Memphis head coach and former Wildcat John Pastner certainly adds a storyline.

Memphis looked really good and showed a lot of heart pulling out a come from behind victory over UTEP.  At the same time UA had their heart broken in a last second loss.  However, the key factor is that this is not a conference USA team.  This is Arizona, the regular season Pac-10 champion, and one skillful shot away from a double over time thriller for the post season title.  Thus, you know who wins this one.

Final Verdict: Arizona

-Commissioner Bryd

With all of the ties Memphis Coach Pastner has to Arizona, as well as members of his staff, the selection committee certainly knew what they were doing in pairing these two schools for a great and interesting match-up. Memphis is younger than the Wildcats, which is actually pretty hard to do and have no NCAA Tournament experience on their team. Not that Arizona does, but more than none. Horne and Fogg were decent contributors on the 2009 Sweet Sixteen team. I see Memphis having issues guarding Williams in the interior with with foul-prone post players. Arizona wins this one and does so in a solid performance with nothing to write home about, other than a stellar performance from Williams.

Final Verdict: Arizona

-Commissioner Quillin

Texas v. Oakland

I’ll be watching only because the winner (COUGH, Texas) will go on to face Arizona in the third round.

Final Verdict: Texas

-Commissioner Byrd

Texas has shown more than just glimmers of greatness this season, but interestingly enough, the pundits are calling this one an upset alert game. Oakland, which I know basically nothing about, is said to have a solid squad, so much so that they are picked to potentially upset the Longhorns. I am going to go with Oakland in a hope that Arizona matched up with them better than a tested and proven Longhorn squad.

Final Verdict: Oakland

-Commissioner Quillin

Cincinnati v. Missouri

Missouri might just have the high powered offense to pull this out.  Cincinnati is such a toss up though.  Who will show up?  The team that beat Georgetown twice or the team that got crushed by Notre Dame, and choked against St. John’s?  My deciding factor is how they played Oklahoma. Both played the Sooners in their own arenas.  Cincinnati beat them by 10, Missouri dismantled them, 84-61.

Final Verdict: Missouri

-Commissioner Byrd

Missouri is the better team. Cincinnati, as is the story of the year with most teams, was just too inconsistent. As Commissioner Byrd stated above,the deciding factor is their performances over Oklahoma on both of their own home courts. Missouri has shown a great improvement while playing at home, as opposed to on the road, but I still see them pulling this one off.

Final Verdict: Mizzou

-Commissioner Quillin

UConn v. Bucknell

I tried my best to find reason for an upset here, but alas I’m sticking to my affection for the Big East.

Final Verdict: UConn

-Commissioner Byrd

UConn has Kemba Walker and is coming off of a very impressive Big East Tournament performance. That should be enough to tell you how dedicated and focused the Huskies are to winning at this point in their season.

Final Verdict: UConn

-Commissioner Quillin

Temple v. Penn St.

I’m not sure if it’s smart or stupid, but winner of this game knocks off SDSU in the next round.

Final Verdict: Temple

-Commissioner Byrd

Penn State is coming off of an impressive Big Ten performance knocking off #13 Wisconsin, beating Michigan State, and playing with Ohio State to only lose by nine. They finished mid-pack in the Big Ten, whereas Temple had an above average season in a weaker conference. I am going with the Nittany Lions.

Final Verdict: Penn State

-Commissioner Quillin

SDSU v. UNCO

You may be wondering why I abbreviated both schools.  See my rational for North Carolina.

Final Verdict: SDSU

-Commissioner Byrd

Though it is good to see UNCO in the tournament after Arizona dismantled them in the pre-conference season, SDSU might very well be the best team on the West Coast. Ouch! That was hard to say! Leonard and Gay will make this a fun game to watch as the Aztecs breeze by.

Final Verdict: SDSU

-Commissioner Quillin

Southwest

Kansas v. Boston University

The Morris twins and their guards Morningstar and Reed have truly stepped up and improved throughout the season. However, they are not all they are made up to be. Three PAC-10 teams took them down to the wire with young and inexperienced teams earlier this season. They will beat BU, but we shall see just how tough they really are.

Final Verdict: Kansas

-Commissioner Quillin

UNLV v. Illinois

The Mountain West Conference is weak, and I can say that growing up watching New Mexico Lobos games.

Final Verdict: Ilinois

-Commissioner Byrd

UNLV began the season with all the momentum and highest hopes they could dream of, more than they have had in years. Unfortunately, they sunk back into mediocrity. They just haven’t been the same without Tark the Shark. However, Illinois has been a similar story this year. They started the preseason ranked #15. That ranking dropped quickly. Yes, the Mountain West is weak, but not with power houses BYU and SDSU this year. UNLV has a tough road and did decently. I see the Runnin’ Rebels running away with this one. They seem hungrier for some tournament time than Illinois has seemed all year.

Final Verdict:UNLV

-Commissioner Quillin

Vanderbilt v. Richmond

Much love for Richmond.  Scratch that, much luck to Richmond, you’re my upset.

Final Verdict: Richmond

-Commissioner Byrd

I have to back my partner’s play here. Vandy hasn’t shown me anything in a very weak SEC conference. Richmond just came off of a great Atlantic 10 tournament and is poised to make a run.

Final Verdict: Richmond

-Commissioner Quillin

Louisville v. Morehead St.

Louisville has Pitino. I could see Louisville doing better, if they were in a different bracket, but this is a certain “W,” unless the team is still distraught over their luck of the draw.

Final Verdict: Lousiville

-Commissioner Quillin

Georgetown v. VCU/USC

The abbreviation rule applies again

Final Verdict: Georgetown

-Commissioner Byrd

My partner chose VCU to beat USC, I saw it the other way around. And, I see this match-up going the other way as well. USC’s defense is solid and their interior presence is overwhelming. They are playing the best ball of their season and are ready to shine under the bright lights. Georgetown hasn’t been the same since the loss of their senior guard Chris Wright. Seeing Vucevic of USC and Freeman of Georgetown in the post will be a fun game to watch.

Final Verdict: USC

-Commissioner Quillin

Purdue v. Saint Peter’s

Purdue is a great Big Ten team that has has a phenomenal season. They will take Saint Peter’s apart. No worries for the Boilermakers here.

Final Verdict: Purdue

-Commissioner Quillin

Texas A&M v. Florida St.

This one was actually a lot harder to pick than expected but in the end, Florida State showed up in their last game against North Carolina and for that they get my nod.  Either way the winner of this one is getting stomped by Notre Dame in the next round.

Final Verdict: Florida St.

-Commissioner Byrd

I agree with Commissioner Byrd, this is a tough one. Texas A&M has had a very overrated season without much to show for it remain ranked. However, Florida State beat Duke when they were No. 1 and, other than that, have nothing to show for it either. This will be a good game of two average squads slugging it out for a chance to continue. I am going to go Florida State.

Final Verdict: Florida State

-Commissioner Quillin

Notre Dame v. Akron

Notre Dame pulls a “Charlie Sheen” and wins. That is all there is to say. Hopefully, the Fighting Irish can rest Hansbrough to keep him fresh for the rest of the tournament.

Final Verdict: Notre Dame

-Commissioner Quillin

Southeast

Pittsburgh v. UNC-Ash

Notice a trend with this Big East stuff yet?

Final Verdict: Pittsburgh

-Commissioner Byrd

Pittsburgh takes this one, simply because of their seeding. I think they are weaker than they let on. They have a very good squad, with no “go-to” guys. But, they play as a team and with great coaching. They will do well, but not as well as everyone thinks.

Final Verdict: Pitt

-Commissioner Quillin

Butler v. Old Dominion

Really wanted to pick Butler just because of that run they put together when they squared off against Michigan St. but alas I couldn’t.

Final Verdict: Old Dominion

-Commissioner Byrd

I am going to pick Butler. They still have some great players from last year’s National Runners-Up team that know what the tournament is like and have the understanding of what it takes to win.

Final Verdict: Butler

-Commissioner Quillin

Kansas St. v. Utah St.

Utah State is extremely overrated, as Kansas State WAS. Yet, Utah State remains ranked. I think Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen is locked, stocked, and ready to play! This will start off as a good game, but Kansas State will distance themselves and emerge as a legitimate contender in the tournament.

Final Verdict: Kansas St.

-Commissioner Quillin

Wisconsin v. Belmont

Wisconsin is a great squad with a lot of experience and a solid season behind them. I see them doing well in the tournament. Some of their seniors will step up and show their true colors under the national spotlight.

Final Verdict: Wisconsin

-Commissioner Quillin

St. John’s v. Gonzaga

I kind of HAVE to pick these guys right?

Gonzaga gets so much love because they’re Gonzaga.  Not today Bulldogs.  Maybe it’s the fact that my name is in their mascots name, but I have the Red Storm going far.

Final Verdict: St. John’s

-Commissioner Byrd

Gonzaga has an underachieving team this season. They have an emerging threat in John Stockton’s son, David, but they just don’t seem to have the chemistry or drive. The Red Storm on the other hand, are revitalized under first-year head coach Steve Lavin. After being pushed out of UCLA, several years earlier, Lavin has the Red Storm as a team that has knocked off some of the best teams in basketball. Their prowess at doing so was blown extremely out of proportion, but the fact of the matter is that they know how to beat elite talent.

Final Verdict: St. John’s

-Commissioner Quillin

BYU v. Wofford

BYU will beat Wofford, but no one else. They lack the interior presence that they had from Brandon Davies, the power forward dismissed for premarital relations with his girlfriend. Jimmer is the best scorer in the country, but can’t shoot himself out of this one.

Final Verdict: BYU

-Commissioner Quillin

UCLA v. Michigan St.

Final Verdict: Michigan St.

-Commissioner Byrd

I see UCLA beating a disaster of a team in Michigan State. Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in the country and so is Howland. But, the Spartans have only one reliable scorer, their guard Lucas. That is easy to remedy with the defensive efforts of the Bruins lately, save the Oregon game. Howland has gotten his fair share of flack from critics, but his post-season production is outstanding, three Final Fours in a row and a National Runners-Up season. Anywhere else and they would erect statues in his honor, not a UCLA though. The only banners that go up there are National Championships. With a nice run this year, Howland might be setting himself up for an experienced bunch in the years to come. Look out! Here come the Bruins!

Final Verdict: UCLA

-Commissioner Quillin

Florida v. UC Santa Barbara

How Florida got “2” seed, I will never EVER know! But, they will win this match-up and have a good game against UCLA.

Final Verdict: Florida

-Commissioner Quillin

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