From the Bird’s Nest: Friday’s picks for the Elite Eight
Well, I went 2-2 last night. Missed the Duke/Arizona pick, but so did everyone else. And, as I said yesterday, Wisconsin sometimes really struggles to score the basketball and that drought hit them at a most inopportune time. Credit to Butler, back in the Elite Eight again.
Here are my picks for tonight
#11 MARQUETTE VS. #2 NORTH CAROLINA–6:15pm CBS
Carolina comes into this game a favorite and they’ve played very very well the last month. Marquette is one of those teams that when they’re playing well, they’re very good. Marquette is coached by Buzz Williams, whose name ranks just behind Katrina of vile names in New Orleans. Williams was the head coach at UNO for one season. He came to town after Katrina, vowed to be a part of the rebirth of the city and then became a Marquette assistant after one season. They don’t like ol’ Buzz on the lakefront much. Anyway, I think Carolina is playing at a high level right now and I expect them to win, but I’m also expecting a competitive game.
#4 KENTUCKY VS. #1 OHIO STATE–8:45PM–CBS
I’m never sold on teams that rely heavily on freshman, which is why I didn’t expect Connecticut or Kentucky to be here. After surviving Princeton, Kentucky has landed here in Newark and will ask their freshmen to play like real veterans tonight. They’ll have to against an Ohio State team that has few weaknesses. The Buckeyes have been the best looking team in the tournament and despite the name of the team they are playing, will be a heavy favorite to win. I think they will. Ohio State looks to be the best team in America. I think they keep it going with a win tonight.
SOUTHWEST REGION–SAN ANTONIO
#12 RICHMOND VS #1 KANSAS–6:27PM–TBS
Welcome to the Cinderella region.
And, a region featuring two bitter rivals, although you never hear about it. Richmond and VCU are about six miles apart geographically. Richmond is private and selective. VCU is public and blue collar. They don’t like each other much.
But in order for the two teams to meet in the Elite Eight, both will have to pull upsets against much better known institutions. Richmond definitely has the tougher draw in Kansas, a veteran team that is basketball blue-blood. Bill Self has had the Jayhawks playing well, although they sometimes lose focus. If they don’t lose focus tonight, this won’t be a great game. Kansas has way too much talent, and I’m afraid the Spiders’ run ends tonight.
#11 VCU vs. #10 FLORIDA STATE–8:57pm–TBS
What a run it’s been for the Rams and their young head coach Shaka Smart. This is the team that wasn’t supposed to be in the tournament. This was the team ripped on by some of the national talking heads. But this is also the team that is the poster child for “just because we don’t get to play the big boys doesn’t mean we can’t play” mid-majors who break the hearts of big name schools every year in the tournament. FSU is a great, not good, great defensive team. They were good enough to beat Duke this season. This game boils down to which team can impose their will on the other. VCU wants to push push and push. FSU wants it in the half court and get you with their defense. If VCU can run, they have a chance. This matchup is similar to the one that VCU faced in the First Four when they played USC. Unfortunately for the Rams, FSU is better than USC. I think the ‘Noles win and get their shot at KU
Enjoy the games.