BRACKET BLOG: Third Round (Day 1)

The fun continues as we head into the third round...

With two fewer double-digit seeds playing for a chance to reach the Sweet Sixteen than last year, today has a chalkier feel to it than the first day of what then was the second round.

And two of those Cinderellas are playing each other, which virtually ensures that at least half of the fourth-round bracket will be full of teams we probably expected to be there.

Kind of deflates the madness, huh? At least most of the games have been close and exciting, even if the outcomes predominantly have fallen into line with the numbers in front of the names.

Previous Entries:

The Teams

 

The Sites

  • Denver, Colo.
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Tucson, Ariz.
  • Washington, D.C.

 

East Region

No. 4 Kentucky (26-8) vs. No. 5 West Virginia (21-11)
March 19 | 11:15 a.m. CST | Tampa | CBS
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Kentucky 59, No. 13 Princeton 57
No. 5 West Virginia 84, No. 12 Clemson 76

This rematch of last year's Elite Eight game features many new faces. Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb still were in high school when DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall squared off against Da'Sean Butler and company. And the other significant players in today's game mostly were role players last year.

That time, Bob Huggins had the upper hand after the Mountaineers bombed the Wildcats from 3-point range and frustrated them on the defensive end. This time, not so much. Despite inferior depth, I like the Wildcats to prevail over a West Virginia squad that struggles to score points against good opponents.

UPDATE: Of course, I forgot that John Calipari never has beat Huggins. Things that make you go "Hm"...

Pomeroy: Kentucky 69, WVU 66
Sagarin: Kentucky 67, WVU 65

 

Southeast Region

No. 1 Pittsburgh (28-5) vs. No. 8 Butler (24-9)
March 19 | 6:10 p.m. CST | Washington | TBS
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

How They Got Here:
No. 1 Pittsburgh 74, No. 16 UNC Asheville 51
No. 8 Butler 60, No. 9 Old Dominion 58

This game has the potential to be nearly unwatchable, in my opinion. Both teams like to slow it down, and both emphasize defense and rebounding. I think it will get into the 60s, but I wouldn't bet money on it.

Anyhow, Butler certainly has the pieces to be annoying and give Pittsburgh a scare. Big East teams aren't exactly faring well right now and Pitt has a history of faltering short of whatever round it's supposed to reach.

But as much as I might like Butler to win and the Cats to defeat Wisconsin so the two of us can settle some unfinished business in the Sweet Sixteen, I don't really expect it. Pitt will show why it's a No. 1 seed.

Pomeroy: Pitt 69, Butler 61
Sagarin: Pitt 69, Butler 62

 

No. 2 Florida (27-7) vs. No. 7 California-Los Angeles (23-10)
March 19 | 1:45 p.m. CST | Tampa | CBS
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

How They Got Here:
No. 2 Florida 79, No. 15 UCSB 51
No. 7 UCLA 78, No. 10 Michigan State 76

Florida will continue its tour of UC system universities with another rematch, this time of the 2006 national championship game and also of a 2007 Final Four game.

I took UCLA to win in my bracket, but I'm starting to regret that choice now. Florida looked thoroughly dominant in its second-round game, even if it was against a vastly inferior opponent, while UCLA blew a huge lead and nearly lost to a crappy Michigan State team. Not good signs.

Pomeroy: Florida 69, UCLA 62
Sagarin: Florida 65, UCLA 61

 

No. 3 Brigham Young (31-4) vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (25-9)
March 19 | 6:45 p.m. CST | Denver | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

How They Got Here:
No. 3 BYU 74, No. 14 Wofford 66
No. 11 Gonzaga 86, No. 6 St. John's 71

Go ahead and copy my Gonzaga breakdown from the other day, then paste it here. Almost all my points still are in effect, other than adding the consideration that BYU hasn't advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in modern memory.

Jimmer Fredette is a good volume scorer, but he's still just one man. Gonzaga is a team, through and through.

Enjoy this match-up no matter the outcome, because we'll get to see these two teams play twice every year in West Coast Conference play, starting next season.

P.S. Again, didn't realize that BYU is 8-0 versus WCC teams. Well, there's a first time for everything...

Pomeroy: BYU 77, Gonzaga 74
Sagarin: BYU 67, Gonzaga 64

 

No. 4 Wisconsin (24-8) vs. No. 5 Kansas State (23-10)
March 19 | 7:40 p.m. CST | Tucson | TNT
Kevin Harlan | Reggie Miller | Dan Bonner

How They Got Here:
No. 4 Wisconsin 72, No. 13 Belmont 58
No. 5 K-State 73, No. 12 Utah State 68

I'm with Panjandrum on this one. I don't really like the match-up. Of course, I'm still scarred from watching the Badgers work us over three years ago, so don't think I'm objective or anything.

I saw enough poor habits poke their head up from time to time in the Utah State game. Frank Martin better get those rooted out quickly, because once you advance past the second round of this thing, little mistakes are the difference between winning and your season (or career) ending.

Pomeroy: Wisconsin 67, K-State 61
Sagarin: Wisconsin 68, K-State 64

 

Southwest Region

No. 12 Richmond (28-7) vs. No. 13 Morehead State (25-9)
March 19 | 4:15 p.m. CST | Denver | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

How They Got Here:
No. 12 Richmond 69, No. 5 Vanderbilt 66
No. 13 Morehead 62, No. 4 Louisville 61

Seems like we're seeing these 12-13 games more and more often. The San Diego-Western Kentucky match-up a few years back was the first one I can remember distinctly.

Anyhow, it's always fun to watch one Cinderella get an automatic bid into the Sweet Sixteen, although it's Heartbreak City for the loser, of course.

I favor Richmond slightly because of Kevin Anderson's shooting and because the Spiders have been in this position before. While it is true that Morehead has Kenneth Faried, who's suddenly a household name, the Eagles' lack of experience beyond the second round will be an impediment.

Pomeroy: Richmond 65, Morehead 60
Sagarin: Richmond 63, Morehead 58

 

West Region

No. 2 San Diego State (33-2) vs. No. 7 Temple (26-7)
March 19 | 5:10 p.m. CST | Tucson | TNT
Kevin Harlan | Reggie Miller | Dan Bonner

How They Got Here:
No. 2 SDSU 68, No. 15 Northern Colorado 50
No. 7 Temple 66, No. 10 Penn State 64

Fran Dunphy won the personal equivalent of a Super Bowl by securing his first NCAA Tournament victory in 11 tries.

Getting two in a row, however, will be much trickier. San Diego State, itself a winner of a milestone victory, awaits the Owls with bad intentions.

I just don't see how Temple will contest the interior presence of Kawhi Leonard and friends. Juan Fernandez and the Owl guards are going to have to burn up the nets to have a chance at the end.

Pomeroy: SDSU 65, Temple 60
Sagarin: SDSU 67, Temple 63

 

No. 3 Connecticut (27-9) vs. No. 6 Cincinnati (26-8)
March 19 | 8:40 p.m. CST | Washington | TBS
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

How They Got Here:
No. 3 Connecticut 81, No. 14 Bucknell 52
No. 6 Cincinnati 78, No. 11 Missouri 63

This is a key Big East match-up. The outcome could have an impact on seeding for the Big East Tournament in a few weeks...

Wait, what's that you say? This isn't a regular-season conference game? Two Big East teams are meeting in the third round because the selection committee is a bunch of poo-slinging retards when it comes to seeding?

UConn has the much-hyped Kemba Walker, but Cincy can counter with the interior dominance of Yancy Gates, who flourished against Mizzou with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

He'll have a harder time of it against Alex Oriakhi and the young pups of UConn, but Cincy has the supporting cast to get it done, which the Bearcats were unable to do in a 76-59 home loss Feb. 27, the two teams' only prior meeting.

Pomeroy: UConn 65, Cincy 64
Sagarin: UConn 66, Cincy 65

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