What we learned from Day 3 of the NCAA Tournament

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“We have met the enemy and it is us.” That’s all N.C. State can say today after blowing a 16-point lead with just over 13 minutes to play against St. Louis, going 9 for 21 at the so-called charity stripe in the second half and just 20 for 37 for the game in losing 83-80 in OT to the Bilikens. St. Louis was basically as charitable in converting on just 12 of 26 free throws, but made all the shots when it counted for unlikely victory. Hard to think they hang with Louisville in the NCAA tournament who shot just 36.4 percent in holding off Manhattan.

St. Louis BilikensSyracuse will have more fans in the stands but Dayton has players that can score and the Flyers are a solid 11-6 SU and ATS on the road this year.

It will be Big East basketball at its best with Villanova taking on Connecticut. Look for guard play to dictate the outcome and rest assured if the Wildcats are 4-23 from behind the arc again, they are done. Coach Jay Wright needs his frontcourt to win the rebound battle and have putbacks against the Huskies.

Look for Florida and Pittsburgh to be an excellent game. The Gators are overall stronger at guard, but the Panthers have playmakers at that position and if they start making shots, they can play with Florida. This will be big-boy basketball when both teams are playing in the halfcourt.

Texas and Michigan will be about transition defense. Whichever team consistently gets back to stop the others break will have the edge. Offhand you have to like the experience of Michigan here.

Wisconsin has a home game playing in Milwaukee and as long as they play their game they should move on. Having watched Oregon several times and seeing all facets of their play, good and bad, the Badgers need to lower the shot clock down to 15 seconds or less because the Oregon defense sags noticeably the longer they defense and Wisconsin can find backdoor cuts or open three’s with patience.

Great job by Harvard, but Michigan State is likely to beat them up in the paint and is more likely to have mini-runs of 6-0 often enough to place the Crimson in the chase position all day.

North Dakota State defeated an overrated Oklahoma bunch, but cannot make the same mistakes against San Diego State in the second half. I was very surprised the Aztecs gave up 40 points to New Mexico State and was extended to overtime. If San Diego State wins the battle of boards they move on, if the Bison can compete on the glass and limit turnovers, they will have a shot.

I don’t really know what Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley add as analysts. They are not informed, have generic opinions and they make Clark Kellogg look even smarter (not that he’s not) because he’s following college basketball all year. I’m sure they will improve as the field narrows, but tough to listen to at the moment.

Tourney numbers

Favorites – 15-5 SU and 9-9-2 ATS

Higher Seeds – 12-4 SU and 6-8-2 ATS

Favorites of 7.5 points or more – 8-0 SU and 4-3-1 ATS

Favorites of 3.5 to 7 points – 4-2 SU and ATS

Favorites of 3 points or less – 3-3 SU and 1-4-1 ATS

Totals – 11-9 UNDER

Totals of 125 or less – 2-2

Totals of 140 or higher – 3-3

 

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