1) Indiana vs. 16) Long Island or James Madison
The Hoosiers have NBA-quality players like Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, who should lead their team to an easy first round victory in the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament. Indiana was 10-4 and 7-7 ATS in away games and does struggle with physical teams which they will not meet in the opener. Long Island likes to run and play fast, averaging 79.6 PPG, which seems to play right into the hands of the Hoosiers if they were to win. James Madison was surprise winner out of the Colonial but leading scorer Rayshawn Goins was arrested and his status is in question.
8) N.C. State vs. 9) Temple
If you lined up the Wolfpack purely on talent, this is an Elite 8 team. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack do not show that talent on a nightly basis and will play soft on the defensive end far more often than they should. Temple was rolling before falling to UMass with seven straight wins, getting consistent scoring from somebody other than G Khalif Wyatt. N.C. State is a 4.5-point favorite and this should be a high scoring contest, with the winner giving the Hoosiers a good battle for 32 minutes before their talent takes over.
4) Syracuse vs. 13) Montana
Some will say to take a look at Montana because of the exceptional play of G Will Cherry and F Kareem Jamar. The Grizzlies can knock down 3’s and are great at getting to the free throw line with dribble penetration. The problem is the length of the Syracuse zone which can bother Montana on both fronts and they could get crushed on the glass. The Orangemen are heavy 14.5-point chalk and if they shoot similar to how they did in the Big East tournament, they advance with no issues.
5) UNLV vs. 12) California
After catching fire late in the season by winning seven straight, has California run out of gas? It seems that way with a regular season ending loss to Stanford and being bounced in their first contest in the Pac-12 tourney by Utah. Outside of Allan Crabbe, the talent is ordinary for the Bears, which is an issue against the Rebels. UNLV has to be considered a disappointment, since they have the top talent in the MWC, yet managed to lose nine times overall. What they lack is chemistry and mental toughness and the type of miscues they make show a low basketball IQ. No reason the Rebels do not cover the three and advance and give Syracuse on tussle in the next round.
2) Miami- Fl. vs. 15) Pacific
The Hurricanes regained their swagger back in winning the ACC tourney and seem destined for a solid run in the tourney. Jim Larranga is a fantastic coach and is a disciple of basketball metrics, which is why Miami is in the Top 30 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Miami will have guard the three-point line much better than they did against North Carolina, as this is the specialty of Pacific. The Tigers have depth, but are small and can be dominated on the glass. The Canes are favored by a dozen and fail to cover if they allow Pacific to make 3’s.
7) Illinois vs. 10) Colorado
The Fighting Illini has knocked off half the top seeds this year but is wildly inconsistent in shooting. For a team as depended as they are on long distance shooting, you have to wonder why they do not penetrate more, connecting on just 32.6 percent (235th nationally). Colorado’s scoring comes from its starters, leaving them vulnerable to foul trouble. The Buffalos are at their best when pounding the ball inside, but like their opponent, are not nearly as effective away from home. Illinois is a two-point favorite and either wins by five or more or losses outright, depending on how they shoot. Neither presents a challenge to Miami.
3) Marquette vs. 14) Davidson
The Golden Eagles surpassed expectations to share the Big East title and are generally accepted as being over-seeded for this tournament. Though few teams play harder than Marquette, they can be had with mediocre outside shooting and loose guard play which translates into turnovers. Davidson is experienced and battle tested, with three seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup. The Wildcats are one of the top shooting teams in the country, but are vulnerable to quick guards off the dribble and lack frontcourt depth. If Davidson’s shots are falling, they can pull the upset as four-point underdogs.
6) Butler vs. 11) Bucknell
The shoe is on the other foot for Brad Stevens Bulldogs, being the hunted by a treacherous underdog. Butler’s lack of a true point guard is why they have not improved since December and they suffer when facing pressure in the backcourt. Bucknell is not built to take advantage of this but will have the best player on the floor in 6’11 Mike Muscala. The Bison can engineer the upset by matching Butler physical play and not being outscored by more than six points behind the arc, since they do not convert many attempts from deep. Butler is down to a 2.5-point fave. A Bucknell against Davidson Round 3 matchup is possible.
Sweet 16 – Indiana – Syracuse- Miami – Davidson