Well, I must say my picks last week were a mixed bag. My upset specials were all horrid and stunk to high heaven and I was completely wrong to say that Villanova was a fraud, but I must say I was right about telling people to stay away from Vandy and Pitt and bet high on West Virginia. Anyone who rolled the dice on Michigan State, like I advocated in the South Region breakdown, is playing with house money at this point.
Well, with the field down to 16, I’ll be breaking down each game individually from now on. Let’s do this, starting with the East Region.
No. 4 Washington State vs. No. 1 North Carolina
I was skeptical of the Cougars prior to the tourney, as their defense had been spotty during the Pac-10 season. But Wazzu has turned up the defense as high as any team in the tourney has in a long time, holding Winthrop and Notre Dame to 41 points each. Pretty sick stuff if you ask me.
North Carolina has been the opposite, putting up over a hundy on Mount St. Mary’s and Arkansas. The Heels are getting production from their entire team and are extremely fun to watch.
So there you have it. One team basically serves as valium and forces the opposition to hit themselves with their own limbs, while the other scores like its chugging Red Bull on a bullet train. As far as matchups go, this could be the best from a pure strategic standpoint. The Cougars will hold Carolina under 100 and cause some tense moments, but the Carolina Blue has too much talent to lose to a team led by a ponytailed pointguard.
Pick: North Carolina
No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 2 Tennessee
I’m not sure if I have as much to write about this one, which is a shame because its a wonderful matchup. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has been to four Final Fours with three teams and has a group that’s rolling. Louisville made short work of Boise State and completely dismantled Oklahoma, which would have been better advised to just lay down and give me one upset that actually came through. The heck with the Sooners and everyone who looks like them.
As far as Tennessee, their trip to the Sweet 16 has been more stressful. American University – not to be confused with the University of the United States in the movie Coming to America – actually was within a score of the Vols with five minutes left before fading and Butler took them to overtime. So Tennessee is battle tested.
The line between battle tested and vulnerable is a thin one. Louisville can match up with Tennessee athletically on the perimeter and will handle the press. Expect the Cardinals to slug this one out and advance.