Below is the list of teams that I thought would move on to the round of 32. The teams in bold were correct and those teams underlined were incorrect. If you’ve been following along, you already know that the first round didn’t go well. I guessed 19 of 32 teams correctly.
Moving on in the South Bracket: (1) Kentucky, (2) Duke, (3) Baylor, (4) Indiana, (5) Wichita State, (6) UNLV, (7) Notre Dame, (9) UConn
Moving on in the West Bracket: (1) Michigan State, (2) Missouri, (3) Marquette, (5) New Mexico, (6) Murray State, (7) Florida, (8) Memphis, (13) Davidson
Moving on in the East Bracket: (1) Syracuse, (2) Ohio State, (3) Florida State, (4) Wisconsin, (6) Cincinnati, (7) Gonzaga, (8) Kansas State, (12) Harvard
Moving on in the Midwest Bracket: (1) North Carolina, (2) Kansas, (3) Georgetown, (4) Michigan, (5) Temple, (6) San Diego State, (7) Saint Mary’s, (8) Creighton
Let’s move on to my predictions for the Round of 32. Sorry for the short and detail-lacking predictions – I’m on a time crunch to get this out before the games start!
(1) Kentucky vs. (8) Iowa State: There’s a reason that Kentucky was the top ranked team coming into the tournament – they play good defense and their the best defensive team in the country. Iowa State plays a great three-point game and Royce White, a 6’8” 270-pound point-forward, causes match-up problems. Even in a year where it feels like I know nothing about what’s going to happen in the tournament, I feel like Kentucky is a sure bet to get into the Sweet 16.
(3) Baylor vs. (11) Colorado: Both of these teams are dangerous. Baylor is long and athletic, they shoot 47 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from long-range. Colorado is ready to play and they proved it against UNLV. Their defense is great and it’s the reason they’ve gotten into the round of 32. This game will probably be closer than most people would have predicted two weeks ago.
(4) Indiana vs. (12) VCU: Cinderella comes to the tournament every year. Sometimes she comes wearing the same costume two years in a row. I think VCU looked good and they used a stifling defense to win their first round game. I think this is a different team than last years Cinderella-runner. I think they’ll win this game. The Big Ten hasn’t played particularly well in this tournament and you don’t mess with Cinderella.
(10) Xavier vs. (15) Lehigh: A ten vs. fifteen seed, huh? Well, I didn’t see that coming. Did you? I didn’t think so. Without wasting too much time, Xavier is the better team. Only six teams seeded below 12th have made it to the Sweet 16. I can’t imagine that Lehigh will do it again.
(1) Michigan State vs. (9) St. Louis: I’ve mentioned a few times that I think Michigan State and North Carolina have the best shot at winning this thing. I stand by that here. Michigan State looked the best of any of the one-seeds in the round of 64 and they should roll against St. Louis too. I don’t know that anyone left in their bracket will pose much of a problem the rest of the way.
Winner: Michigan State
(3) Marquette vs. (6) Murray State: This is the hardest game for me to pick in the round of 32. It seems as though Marquette is the better team, and if anyone is going to give Michigan State a run for their money, it’s going to me Marquette. If anyone is going to give Marquette a run for their money, it’s Murray State. Murray State guard, Isaiah Canaan, is someone you probably haven’t heard a lot about (unless you’re glued to ESPN). He’s someone that might make the difference in this game.
Winner: Murray State
(4) Louisville vs. (5) New Mexico: Momentum is a huge part of the NCAA tournament. Rick Pitino said that nothing propelled his team through the Big East tournament championship, but it seems to be working. Louisville has won five straight games and they’re playing great. If not for a bunch of injuries, Louisville might have entered the tournament at a higher seed, with more wins. New Mexico has had a great season and will put up one hell of a fight, but Louisville has the momentum and should come out on top.
(7) Florida vs. (15) Norfolk State: Seriously? They should just stop letting people fill out brackets. This is starting to get ridiculous. Normally I would say that Florida is going to dominate Norfolk State, and it’s probably still true. The pressure that Norfolk is feeling to come out and knock off another major school is probably tremendous. I can’t imagine that they’ll have enough in the tank to knock off Florida too.
(1) Syracuse vs. (8) Kansas State: Syracuse missed Fab Melo…a lot. It was obvious that they weren’t the same team without him. They can’t control the tempo when he’s not on the floor. Syracuse got a very balanced effort, though, with James Southerland, leading the way. Kansas State was in a dog fight with Southern Miss and showed that they’ll put up a hell of a fight. I’m not quite ready to jump off the Syracuse wagon just yet…although, getting the winner of Wisconsin and Vanderbilt might make the jump easier.
(2) Ohio State vs. (7) Gonzaga: Jared Sullinger has been mediocre lately, and it’s going to come back to bite the Buckeyes eventually. Gonzaga shot a staggering 56 percent from the field and 52 percent from long-range in their first round matchup. However, in the Round of 32, they get a much better defensive team in Ohio State. Look for Ohio State to try to take away the deep ball and force Zaga to beat them in the paint. If they can do that, they’ll win. If Zaga gets hot from anywhere on the court, it will go the other way.
Winner: Ohio State
(3) Florida State vs. (6) Cincinnati: Cincinnati is not a good offensive team, and while Florida State had some trouble in the first round, they should have shaken the jitters by now. I expect Florida State to come out fast and make Cincinnati play from behind – something they aren’t very good at. Florida State has the better shooters, defense, and overall team. That has to count for something this year…right?
(4) Wisconsin vs. (5) Vanderbilt: Wisconsin dominated in the first round and look to have a lot of people picking them. What you might want to remember is that it was against a Big Sky team. Vanderbilt can play ball and will be ready for Wisconsin’s stifling defense. A major difference in this round will be Vanderbilt’s immense talent. They should be able to spread the ball around and score against that good defense.
(1) North Carolina vs. (8) Creighton: Creighton is a good team, at least according to North Carolina’s coaching staff. They should be able to put up some fight, but I find it hard to believe that one of the two best teams in this tournament won’t roll over them. The ACC is no joke, and North Carolina will need to see some tougher talent before they get knocked off this year.
Winner: North Carolina
(2) Kansas vs. 10 Purdue: Kansas could have easily been a one-seed. Purdue should have been an eight or nine-seed. They play in the defense-have Big Ten and they have a decent offense. Kansas is probably too talented for Purdue to keep pace on the scoreboard, though.
(3) Georgetown vs. (11) NC State: Like I said, momentum is important in the tournament. NC State finished the season as hot as a cattle prod and they don’t look to be slowing down. I expect this game to come down to the wire, but I think Georgetown’s depth will make the difference.
(12) South Florida vs. (13) Ohio: Have I mentioned that I have no idea what’s happening in this year’s tournament?
Winner: South Florida
Moving on to Sweet 16: (1) Kentucky, (1) Michigan State, (1) Syracuse, (1) North Carolina, (2) Ohio State, (2) Kansas, (3) Georgetown, (3) Baylor, (3) Florida State, (4) Louisville, (5) Vanderbilt, (6) Murray State, (7) Florida, (10) Xavier, (12) VCU, (12) South Florida
Make sure to check back after the Round of 32 for the Sweet Sixteen preview!