BRACKET BLOG: Second Round (Day 2)

In each region today, it's a tale of two games.

Two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds are in action, and the 2s face No. 10 seeds that have limitations. I suspect all four teams will win comfortably.

On the other side of the bracket, though, things are more interesting.

Pittsburgh-Xavier appears almost to be a tossup. Purdue and Texas A&M virtually are clones of each other, and I expect that game to be a dogfight to the end. The coaching battle between Tom Izzo and Gary Williams will be fascinating to watch. And everyone's waiting to see if Cornell can join its tiny brethren in the Sweet Sixteen.

The major storyline of the day, I think, is the Big Ten Conference. All four of its remaining teams (all of which are seeded fifth or higher) have winnable games. If the Big Ten sends four teams to the Sweet Sixteen, and the Big 12 and Big East do not, the hype will be insufferable.

But if more than two fall, it will be an open battle for which is perceived as the best conference. Either way, the story of the Big Ten's season basically will be written today.

Previous Entries:

The Teams

 

The Sites

  • Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Spokane, Wash.

 

East Region

No. 2 West Virginia (28-6) vs. No. 10 Missouri (23-10)
March 21 | 1:40 p.m. | Buffalo

How They Got Here:
No. 2 West Virginia 77, No. 15 Morgan State 50
No. 10 Missouri 86, No. 7 Clemson 78

Man, who do you go for in this one? Due to KU's belly-flop, the Big 12's reputation probably is irreparably damaged, but you'd still like to see as many Big 12 teams reach the Sweet Sixteen as we can get.

That said, Missouri winning doesn't really help K-State, considering we recruit head-to-head. If the Tigers make another deep run, Mike Anderson's credibility will rise even more. Besides, I'd really like to be the only show in Kansas City this week — that would be unprecedented publicity for K-State.

Plus, it's hard for me to root against Bob Huggins. Frank Martin certainly deserves the lion's share of the credit for where we are now, but Huggins played a role, too. How many people could envision where we are, based on where we were five years ago? Huggs helped make that possible.

Ultimately, I don't think it will matter. West Virginia has more size, more talent and a better coach, and I think it will find a way to win.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: West Virginia 68, Missouri 66
Sagarin: West Virginia 70, Missouri 67

 

UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Wisconsin (24-8) vs. No. 12 Cornell (28-4)
March 21 | 1:50 p.m. | Jacksonville

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Wisconsin 53, No. 13 Wofford 49
No. 12 Cornell 78, No. 5 Temple 65

OK, this is simple. Wisconsin should have lost to Wofford. Cornell is a lot better than Wofford. The Badgers better bring their A-game today, because they're more than capable of dropping this game and sending yet another mid-major Cinderella to the Sweet Sixteen.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Wisconsin 67, Cornell 59
Sagarin: Wisconsin 68, Cornell 64

 

Midwest Region

No. 2 Ohio State (28-7) vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech (23-12)
March 21 | 1:20 p.m. | Milwaukee

How They Got Here:
No. 2 Ohio State 68, No. 15 UCSB 51
No. 10 Georgia Tech 64, No. 7 Oklahoma State 59

Ohio State shouldn't have any trouble with Georgia Tech, which really should have scored more points against Oklahoma State's lousy defense. I predict Evan Turner will have another spectacular game, and that will be the difference-maker against a Yellow Jacket front-court with some scary size.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Ohio State 70, Georgia Tech 66
Sagarin: Ohio State 69, Georgia Tech 66

 

UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Maryland (24-8) vs. No. 5 Michigan State (25-8)
March 21 | 1:30 p.m. | Spokane

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Maryland 89, No. 13 Houston 77
No. 5 Michigan State 70, No. 12 New Mexico State 67

Never, ever bet against Tom Izzo in March. It will take everything Grievis Vasquez has to pull out a win in this game.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Maryland 75, Michigan State 71
Sagarin: Maryland 78, Michigan State 76

 

South Region

No. 1 Duke (30-5) vs. No. 8 Cal (24-10)
March 21 | 4:15 p.m. | Jacksonville

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Duke 73, No. 16 UAPB 44
No. 8 Cal 77, No. 9 Louisville 62

Although I think Cal can give Duke a game, I still think the Blue Devils will win. It's ironic, because they were by far viewed as the worst No. 1 seed, but I actually could see them progressing the furthest because they don't beat themselves.

Kentucky's still going to have to win a game where they don't overpower the other team with their talent, and I don't know if they have the experience to do so. And Syracuse has major weaknesses. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out today.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Duke 77, Cal 69
Sagarin: Duke 73, Cal 66

 

UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Purdue (28-5) vs. No. 5 Texas A&M (24-9)
March 21 | 4:00 p.m. | Spokane

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Purdue 72, No. 13 Siena 64
No. 5 Texas A&M 69, No. 12 Utah State 53

Again, it's hard to rely on computer predictions here because Purdue amassed most of its statistics when Robbie Hummel still was playing.

But the Boilermakers still have E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Chris Kramer and Lewis Jackson, and they showed a lot of pride in outlasting a Siena team that was a runaway favorite to upset them.

That said, Texas A&M is a bad match-up for Purdue because they play the same game — low-scoring, grind it out, beat 'em up, rebound and play fundamental basketball.

Donald Sloan versus Moore and Kramer. Bryan Davis versus Johnson. I can't wait to see this one — it'll be fun.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Purdue 64, Texas A&M 63
Sagarin: Purdue 69, Texas A&M 68

 

West Region

No. 1 Syracuse (29-4) vs. No. 8 Gonzaga (27-6)
March 21 | 11:10 a.m. | Buffalo

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Syracuse 79, No. 16 Vermont 56
No. 8 Gonzaga 67, No. 9 Florida State 60

As I write this, Syracuse pretty much is having its way with Gonzaga, so any hope I had of an upset here to open up the region looks unlikely.

The road to the Final Four for K-State goes through Syracuse and its potent 2-3 zone. Let's hope the progress we showed finding gaps Saturday night against BYU's zone augurs well for the near future.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Syracuse 79, Gonzaga 71
Sagarin: Syracuse 81, Gonzaga 76

 

UPSET ALERT: No. 3 Pittsburgh (25-8) vs. No. 6 Xavier (25-8)
March 21 | 3:50 p.m. | Milwaukee

How They Got Here:
No. 3 Pittsburgh 89, No. 14 Oakland 66
No. 6 Xavier 65, No. 13 Minnesota 54

So which will it be? A slightly over-seeded Pittsburgh team that emphasizes defense and rebounding just as much as the Cats do? Or a rematch with tough-nosed Xavier, which will be more challenging because it won't be a home game and because Jordan Crawford has awakened?

I really don't care. If the Cats play well, they can beat either team. I like both match-ups and I think we're good enough to take care of the lower-seeded teams. It's the higher-seeded one that has me concerned.

GAMER: no predicted score
KenPom: Xavier 68, Pittsburgh 66
Sagarin: Xavier 67, Pittsburgh 66

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