The round of 32 is here and every team has fought and earned their way to have a chance to go to the Sweet 16 (except for UCLA). If you thought that the round of 64 was crazy, just wait the madness hasn’t even reached its peak. I will be previewing the marquee game of the day and also make brief predictions on the rest of the games. Today’s Matchup of the day is 6 seeded Xavier Musketeers vs the 14 seeded Georgia State Panthers.
Keys for Xavier:
In just their second year in the Big East ,the Musketeers have made a name for themselves after moving out of the A-10. What really stands out about this team is their efficiency on the defensive side of the court. They shut down a hot Ole Miss team who were coming off a 94 point game. The focal point of the game for Xavier has to be their monster in the paint Matt Stainbrook . He is the heart and soul of this Xavier team as well as their leading scorer and rebounder. Georgia State struggles in the post so look for Stainbrook to exploit that weakness.
Keys for Georgia State:
After Georgia State’s emotional upset vs 3 seeded Baylor, the Panthers are ready to try on the glass slipper. The Panthers beat the Bears without their starting point guard who is their leading scorer. This is a very dangerous team that could make an Elite 8 run. Three point shooting is a huge factor, the Panthers are lights out from three. Also this team has some tourney experience. The last time Kevin Ware was in March Madness, he won the National Championship with Louisville after suffering his devastating injury. Ryan Harrow is the key for Ron Hunter’s Panthers to pull off another upset. The Kentucky transfer is arguably the best player on this team and having him back in the picture just makes this hungry GSU team even scarier.
Prediction: I believe the Panthers will be able to move the ball around the stingy Musketeer defense and move on to the Sweet 16. The clock will not strike midnight for Ron Hunter and Georgia State. Georgia State 67 Xavier 61
Today’s Match Up of the Day is the first of the two Final Four games. The number one seeded Florida Gators vs the number seven seeded Connecticut Huskies. The Florida Gators are the number one overall seeded team in the tournament, they were expected to be here, but no one had thought that UConn would be at the point they are now. Before the start or the tournament the Huskies had a 0.08% chance of winning making it to the Final Four well, they made it and they have a chance to go to the National Championship. Who will win the Big Bad Gators or the Hot Streaking Huskies?
The Florida Gators have been favored to win every single game in the tournament so far and everybody is picking them to win but UConn is no slouch. The key for the Gators is senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Wilbekin has been almost perfect this NCAA tournament, he has only turned the ball over two times. Wilbekin is an offensive weapon but he has to step up on defense today. Wilbekin is a fantastic defender but he has to have have a great defensive game to contain UConn’s superstar Shabazz Napier. Wilbekin has to shut down Napier because if he doesn’t the Gators may have a long night. The last team to beat Florida was UConn earlier in the year. It was an instant classic, Napier missed a floater badly but luckily for UConn it bounced right back in his hands and Napier hit a mid range jumper for the win at the buzzer leading the Huskies to a victory. The Gators still have the bitter taste in their mouth from that loss and Billy Donovan should use that as motivation.
The UConn Huskies are the hottest team in the country and their success in the tournament is mostly thanks to their senior point guard Kemba Walker I mean Shabazz Napier. Napier has been the best player in this entire NCAA tournament and he has also been leading his Huskies to upset after upset. Napier is going to see all or the traps and double teams that the Gators will throw at him. Napier will have to have some help to ease the defense off him and that is why DeAndre Daniels is the X-Factor for the Huskies. Daniels had the game of his life in the Sweet Sixteen against Iowa State. Daniels shoots lasers from the the 3-point line and he has to have a good game to help out Napier. Ryan Boatright is the most explosive player on this Huskies team and he has to bring energy on the defensive end for Kevin Ollie and his UConn team.
I believe that DeAndre Daniels will have a fantastic game and he will allow Napier to go off and the UConn Huskies will be marching on to the National Championship. UConn 71 Florida 70
Today’s Match Up of the Day is the number 2 seeded Michigan Wolverines vs the number 8 seeded Kentucky Wildcats. This is a battle of two blue bloods… last year’s national runner-up vs the young guns. This is Michigan vs Kentucky, who will get the last spot into the Final Four?
The Michigan Wolverines have the most lethal offense in the country. They have so many great 3-point shooters and they spread out the defense so well. If you give them even an inch of separation they will knock it down. The key player for Michigan is their only senior, center Jordan Morgan. Morgan was unfairly labeled the weak link of this Wolverines team. This postseason he has been the best player for Michigan and he has been playing the tournament of his life. Morgan and his backup Jon Horford are the only true big men on this team and both of them have to contain Kentucky’s star center Julius Randle. Morgan is a great defender, last game vs Tennessee, Morgan shut down the Vols’ star Jarnell Stokes and he drew the game winning charge on Stokes. Morgan has to have a repeat performance if he wants to take his Wolverines to Dallas. Guard Nik Stauskas will score his usual 18 to 20 points, but I think the x-factor of the game for the Wolverines is guard Caris LeVert. LeVert can be the best player on the floor but also Caris and be Careless as shown in their last game when he stepped out of bounds, which gave the Volunteers a chance to win the game. Fortunately Tennessee didn’t take advantage of their opportunity. LeVert has to have a big game if Michigan wants to make their second straight Final Four.
The Kentucky Wildcats are trying to be the second ever team with all freshmen in their starting five to make the Final Four since ironically Michigan did it with the Fab Five. The x-factor for the Wildcats is guard James Young. Young is their best shooter from the perimeter and he has to make some big shots to keep the defense honest so they don’t just focus on Randle in the paint. Throughout the regular season the Wildcats played like a group of inexperienced freshmen but now they are all playing like a group of five year seniors. Kentucky is playing at a championship level and they will give the Wolverines a run for their money.
I believe that the youth of the Wildcats will finally come to bite them and Michigan’s senior Jordan Morgan is going to save the day once again for the Wolverines. At the end of the day I believe Michigan will be Marching on to Dallas to take on conference rivals Wisconsin in the Final Four. Michigan 79 Kentucky 77
Todays match up of the day is the number one seeded Florida Gators v the number eleven seeded Dayton Flyers. It’s the Powerhouse vs the Cinderella, Florida vs Dayton.
1 Florida’s Keys:
The Florida Gators are the best team in the country and they have been dominating every team they have played in the tournament. The key to a Gators Victory is their transition defense. The Bruins exposed the Gators weak transition D in their last game vs UCLA. The Flyers really know how to run a fast break so Florida’s guards have to play well on defense to contain the Flyer’s dynamic duo Jordan Sibert on Dyshawn Pierre. Patric Young has to take advantage of his size and be a bully in the paint. The Gators are heavily favored and if they lose they will always be known as the team who didn’t get to the Final Four.
The Dayton Flyers have tried on the glass slipper and found out that it fits. The Flyers are the biggest story in this tournament and they have been playing sensational basketball. They need to control the tempo and speed the game up into full court run and gun basketball. PG Jordan Sibert has to have a huge impact for the Flyers and he has to contain All-American guard Scottie Wilbekin if they want a chance to advance to the Final Four.
I believe that the Gators Elite Eight loosing streak will continue and the Dayton Flyers will hop on that magical carriage for a trip to the final four. Dayton 64 Florida 62
Other prediction for today: Arizona 76 Wisconsin 69
Todays Match Up of the Day is number seven seeded Connecticut vs number 3 seeded Iowa State. The story of this game is the match up at the point guard position. Napier vs Kane will be the match up everybody will be waiting to see.
7 Uconn’s keys:
The Connecticut Huskies have had an up and down season, but they are making up for every game by their great performance in the NCAA Tournament. Shabazz Napier is in my opinion the best point guard in the country and he one of the best team leaders in the country. The Huskies have peaked at the right time and a lot of their uprise is thanks to Napier. Napier leads his team in points, assists, and rebounds. This is just astonishing. Napier hasn’t done it all for the Huskies. Napier’s “Robin” Ryan Boatright is a dead-eye from the 3-point line and he has some of the fastest moving feet on defense. Uconn has the best backcourt duo and they are going to be a lot to handle for the Iowa State defense.
3 Iowa State’s keys:
The Iowa State Cyclones are back to playing classic Iowa State basketball. DeAndre Kane is a beast. He single handily won the game vs North Carolina. I admire his game so much and I think that he will be a steal in this year’s NBA draft. Kane and Melvin Ejim have to takeover this game because of the loss of stretch center Georges Niang. Niang is impossible to guard. He is a 7-footer and has a good power post game but he can also drain 3-pointers. Niang breaking his foot is an enormous loss for the for this Cyclones game and he will be missed in this game Prediction: I believe that Napier is going to have a Kemba Walker moment for the huskies and take over this game. Uconn 71 Iowa State 68.
Other Predictions: Michigan 82 Tennessee 74, Michigan State 61 Virginia 58,
Todays Match Up of the Day is the number one seeded Florida Gators vs the number four seeded UCLA Bruins. This is a classic old school powerhouse game of basketball. Two of the most storied programs will face each other for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight.
The Gators are the number one overall seeded team and arguably the best team in the country. Coach Billy Donovan really has his Gators believing. Scottie Wilbekin is Florida’s star and he is their key to victory. Wilbekin is a fantastic offensive player but where he is most needed is on the defensive side of the ball. Wilbekin is a great on-ball defender and he never lets anyone drive past him. Michael Frazier III has to have a good game shooting the three ball. When Frazier is hot there aren’t many people better shooting the three. Frazier is still very young but as he develops he reminds me of a Ray Allen or Reggie Miller, that’s how good he is at three’s. Donovan is coaching one of the best teams and he better have the Gators playing up to snuff so they don’t disappoint and reek havoc on most people’s brackets.
UCLA Bruins are coming off a fantastic performance vs Cinderella story Stephen F. Austin. The Bruins shattered the Lumberjack’s glass slipper and sent them home crushed. This time the Bruins are going to have to play the underdog role. Small Forward Jordan Adams has to be on the money tonight. Last year Adams went out in the Pac 12 tourney with a broken foot, which was a huge killer for UCLA and it was a main reason their NCAA Tourney trip was quit short. This year Adams is back and he came up big in the Pac 12 Tournament by hitting the game winning shot vs Arizona. Adams has to put on a clinic if his team even wants a chance against this great Florida team.
Prediction: UCLA has had a great run but they are very young and inexperienced and Florida is a Senior driven team. Florida 75 UCLA 73
Like last year, I will be doing a Match Up of the Day blog everyday for the rest of March Madness. Today’s match up of the day is the 2 seeded Wisconsin Badgers vs the 7 seeded Oregon Ducks.
7 Oregon keys:
The Oregon Ducks are the most prolific offensive team in America. They run a up tempo fast offense which is very similar to the play of their football team. The X-factor for the Ducks is big man Elgin Cook. Cook just came off of playing the game of his life. Cook was so ecstatic about playing in his home town of Milwaukee and I am waiting for an encore for him today in Milwaukee. Cook also has a huge challenge in containing the pride and joy of Benet Academy, Frank Kaminsky the all BIG Ten 1st team center. It will be a struggle to contain him for Cook because of Kaminsky’s range from the 3 pt. Jason Calliste also has to play well if the Ducks want to pull of the upset. He is probably the best 6th man in the country and he has a beautiful stroke from beyond the arch. He had a monster game in the regular season to help the Ducks take down Arizona and I am looking for him to have the same impact. By the way, he’s my favorite Oregon player.
2 Wisconsin keys:
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the top defensive teams in all of college basketball but their weak link is their own offense. The Badgers struggle to score and they have the slowest offensive production. Frank the Tank is going to have to carry the load for this heavily favored Wisconsin team. Wisconsin’s defense has to step up against this high powered offense. For Wisconsin to win the game they have to slow down the tempo and not let the Ducks get any fast break opportunities.
Prediction: I believe the Oregon Ducks offense is going to be too much to handle for the Badgers. Oregon 74 Wisconsin 65
It is the last college basketball game of the year, the National Championship. Today’s Match Up of the Day is the Michigan Wolverines vs the Louisville Cardinals. This game is going to be amazing… I am so excited I’m shaking! This game is going to be a match up of two completely different teams. Louisville, who is great on defense and Michigan, who is outstanding on offense. Both of these teams have been doubted throughout the year but have proved the haters wrong, and they have truly risen to the occasion.
Michigan’s Keys: If Michigan wants to finally cut down the nets and become National Champions, Player of the Year Trey Burke needs to show up and not play like he did against Syracuse. When they played Syracuse he only made one field goal. If he does that tonight it might be the Cards celebrating at the end of the game. Michigan does have experience with a full court press when they played VCU in the round of 32. In that game Burke easily broke through and hit a man for a open jumper. Burke has to have a big game for the Wolverines. We know he is a big time player and he loves the spot light so he has to shine in the big moment. Also Michigan needs to get off to a good start, get ahead, and most importantly don’t let Louisville come back once they take that lead. Louisville did it against Syracuse in the Big East Championship and they did it against the Shockers in the Final Four. If that happens Louisville would take the momentum, suck the life out of Michigan, and probably run away with the game. If Michigan wants to be the kings of college hoops, it is critical that they don’t let Louisville comeback.
Louisville: If Louisville wants to win it all, Gorgui Dieng has to be a factor. He has to contain Mitch McGary who has been great this Tournament. Dieng can block shots with ease and McGary is very physical, so it will be a challenge. Also Kevin Ware is a big factor. Im sure most of us saw his gruesome injury vs Duke, all of the players want to win it for Kevin. He can be a big inspiration as long as the players keep their emotions in check.
Prediction: This game is going to be so close it will probably come down to the last possession. This is what I have in my bracket. I think both these teams are very good but I trust Burke and I think he is going to win it with a buzzer beater. I have Michigan becoming the 2013 NCAA basketball Champs.
Today’s Match Up of the Day is the Michigan Wolverines vs the Florida Gators. This game is going to go down right to the wire. It is on CBS at 2:20 ET. Both teams have outstanding coaches and they are hot at the right time.
Michigan’s Keys: The keys for the Wolverines is the play of Mitch McGary. He has been amazing this whole NCAA Tournament. He has to have a big game because he has to guard Florida’s great big man Patrick Young. He has to play very physical because Young is going to try to beat him up in the paint. Also, Tim Hardaway Jr. has to actually show up today. He is the Maize and Blue’s second best player, but he is a streaky shooter. When he is hot he just drains shots, but when he is cold he can’t throw a ball into the ocean. Hardaway has to play great if the Wolverines want to save the Big Ten and advance to Atlanta to the Final Four.
Florida’s Keys: The keys for the Gators is the play of point guard Kenny Boynton. He is the heart and soul of this Florida team. He is their best player and the true leader of their team. He has to guard the best player in the country, Trey Burke. We all know that that is a tough task. If Billy Donovan and his Gators want a chance against the Maize and Blue, Boynton has to have a monumental game.
Prediction: This game is going to be tight but at the end of the day I trust Trey Burke. I have Michigan keeping the Big Ten alive and advancing to the Final Four.
Before the Match Up of the Day I have to comment on Trey Burke’s shot. What a game, what a shot, and what a player. In my opinion, Burke just clinched the player of the year, but for the Michigan Wolverines there is still more ahead.
Today’s Match Up of the Day is the Syracuse Orange vs the Marquette Golden Eagles. This game is on CBS at 4:30 ET. I choose this game because both of these teams are Big East rivals and the winner punches the first ticket to the Final Four. This is going to be a very close game but one team has to come out in the win column. If you want to watch a incredible game tune into Syracuse vs Marquette, the championship of East segment of the bracket.
Syracuse’s Keys: The key for Syracuse is their zone defense. Their defense has been demolishing teams in the tournament. Marquette has their hands full. Also James Southerland has to have a big game. He is a lethal three point shooter, and when he gets hot he is almost impossible to stop. When Southerland is playing well the Cuse rolls. Marquette plays very physical and are very aggressive so the Orange big men have to step up. If Syracuse wants to advance to Atlanta Southerland is the key.
Marquette’s Keys: The keys for Marquette is the play of their guards, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan. Can they handle Syracuse’s zone defense? They have to take care of the ball and establish their tempo. They are going to have to draw fouls and get Carter-Williams and Southerland in foul trouble. I think Marquette has the talent to win this game but if they make the Final Four I don’t think that they can handle Burke and Michigan or Florida.
Prediction: I think this is going to be an even matched game, but I don’t think Marquette can handle Syracuse ‘s defense. I have the Orange in the Final Four.