Sweet Emotions

Well, ladies and gents, things are about to get real. With the fun and excitement of the first weekend behind us, we are now left with serious games with serious implications and emotions in the Sweet 16. As Steven Tyler put it:

I pulled into town in a police car
Your daddy said I took you just a little too far
You’re telling me things but your girlfriend lied
You can’t catch me ’cause the rabbit done died
Yes it did

I’ll just let that sink in for a minute. While we wait, here are my thoughts on today’s Sweet 16 matchups:

4 Wisconsin vs. 1 Syracuse
I’m not going to lie. Any game featuring Wisconsin has the potential to make you want to stab your eyes out. That said, their combination of quality guard play and tough defense should make this game very competitive. The Syracuse zone forces teams to hit outside shots to win, something Wisconsin has shown it can do on occasion. There is potential for an upset, but here’s hoping Syracuse uses their superior size and athleticism to spare us another round of “Bo Ball”.

Living proof that stage presence can overcome a lot of ugly.

4 Louisville vs. 1 Michigan State
Based on the season thus far, this seems to be a match-up of similar teams on similar paths. Both teams play suffocating defense at times, both teams struggle to score, and both teams overcame mid-to-early season set-backs to win their conference tournament. While Michigan State is the higher seed, all but one of the personnel match-ups seem to favor a finally healthy Louisville roster. The problem is that one match-up happens to be Draymond Green, who can and has put his team on his back. If Louisville can somehow convert a high percentage of transition baskets, look for the Cardinals to advance.

6 Cincinnati vs. 2 Ohio State
While the Cardinals and Spartans might feel like they’re looking in the mirror at one another, the Bearcats and Buckeyes couldn’t be more different. Cincinnati seemed to switch gears from mediocre also-ran to true Final Four contender heading up to the tournament, while pre-season Final Four favorite Ohio State has gone the other direction. The Buckeyes will have the clear talent advantage and they should be able to force their tempo on a Bearcat attack that sometimes resembles a team from the Rec League Final Four. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the Buckeyes will be able to return to form this late in the season.

7 Florida vs. 3 Marquette
On paper, this pairing would seem to favor the Golden Eagles. According to KenPom, Marquette has a balanced, efficient attack with the nation’s #28 offense and #16 defense. The Gators trend toward the scoring side with the #3 offense and #73 defense. Marquette seems to be the tougher, more consistent team and with dynamite scoring from Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East POY Jae Crowder we could see them pull away. However, you can never under-estimate guard play in the NCAA tournament and Florida’s can be unmatched at times. If the Gators are hitting outside shots, this could go down to the wire.

As we all pretend to be interested in what they’re paying us to do, lets keep our fingers crossed that 4 potentially great match-ups all materialize tonight. See you tomorrow.


Al’s preseason predictions for NCAA men’s college basketball

Al for most of 2010

This has been one of the worst years to be a UNC fan. First, there was the horrible performance of the men’s basketball team that began in January of this year. Then there was the nightmare of the Duke national championship, which was all but gift-wrapped and handed to them by the NCAA selection committee and the other #1 seeds who laid down and died for no discernible reason. And then, UNC fans learned that a group of football players and an assistant coach (now former) figured that they could violate NCAA rules without getting caught while others looked the other way. And all for—get this—a team that until recently, had not beaten UVA or N.C. State in four years and lost every bowl game it was in.

I have seen no signs that this new basketball season will erase the pain of the last 10 months, so with that in mind, I submit these predictions, aka “Al’s nightmare” for the ESPN/USA Today preseason top 10:

1. Duke: Despite finishing second in the ACC regular season behind Maryland, Duke will remain ranked no. 1 throughout the entire season and will easily win the ACC championship, landing a #1 seed in whichever is the most advantageous region for them in the NCAA tournament. In a final four that consists of Duke, Seton Hall, Michigan State, Bowling Green State University (I’d like to thank Small Arms McGee for furnishing the name of this team), Duke will beat Seton Hall and Bowling Green State to win it all. The name of the Naismith Award will be changed to the Krzyzewski Award. People will conveniently forget that Wooden had more championships and call K the best and most successful men’s basketball coach in the history of the game. By 2012, Krzyzewski will be credited with inventing the game.
2. Michigan State: Despite a slow start to the season, which will include a loss to #1 Duke and to Texas and two inexplicable back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Penn State, knocking them down to about 11 in the rankings, they will finish strong to defeat Ohio State in the Big 10 Conference Championships. This will land them a no. 2 seed in the region least advantageous to them, where they will have to play the toughest opponents. This will wear them out so that they are too tired to beat Bowling Green State in the Final Four, setting Duke up for yet another win. Izzo will continue to be admired by most rational basketball fans but mocked by Duke fans for always coming up short in the NCAA tournament.
3. Kansas State: Kansas State will start out strong in the early season with a nice win over Florida in December and move into the No. 2. spot after Michigan State loses to Northwestern and Penn State in December. They will hang onto that spot until losing at Kansas in January. Despite an embarrassing loss at Nebraska, they will end up in the Big 12 Championship game and lose to Kansas. However, the NCAA selection committee will still give them the second No. 1 seed, but it will be in a region as far away from Manhattan as possible given the tournament venues. Sadly, they will exit the tournament in the Sweet 16, falling to Temple.
4. Pittsburgh: Pitt will beat all of their opponents in December and January (including Tennessee) only to lose to Georgetown, Syracuse, West Virginia and Louisville so that they end up in 4th or 5th in the conference and bow out early in the Big East tournament. They’ll be given a courtesy No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and lose in the Sweet 16 to Bowling Green State.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes will not seriously be challenged by any out of conference team, squeaking by opponents with scores like 57 to 54, and will probably be ranked #4 after Pitt loses to Georgetown. They will win the Big 10 regular season and will beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 tournament in a game that is about as exciting as watching your laundry spin in a front-loading washer or waiting for water to boil, only to lose to Michigan State in the final. They will still be the third #1 seed in the NCAA and will make it to the Elite Eight only to lose to Seton Hall 71 to 68, which will be their highest score of the season.
6. Villanova: Jay Wright’s team will stay in the top 10 for most of the season, losing only to Syracuse and Pitt and ending up in the Big East Championship final game after beating Pitt in a rematch, only to lose to Seton Hall, who will end up being the Big East Champ. However, based on their finish as #1 in the Big East, Villanova will earn the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but will lose in the Elite Eight, again to Seton Hall.
7. Kansas: The Jayhawks will have a tough year, because they will be without Josh Selby until the NCAA clears him on January 1, 2011 (this hasn’t been a very good year for Kansas fans either). They will most likely lose to Arizona, Memphis, Cal and Michigan (the score in that game 60 to 58 will be the lowest number of points Kansas will score all season) until Selby gets in the groove and leads them to the Big 12 Conference championship, which they’ll win. They’ll get a no. 3 seed and lose in the Elite 8 to Bowling Green State.
8. Purdue: The loss of Hummel will be felt by the Boilermakers, but because they play in the Big 10, they’ll still have a solid season. They’ll beat Virginia Tech handily in the Big 10 – ACC Challenge, but this will set them up for a loss at Alabama, just as Purdue fans are beginning to think they might be contenders without Hummel. They’ll recover and go on to win several more games before losing to West Virginia 64-54. After that, their season will be a series of ups and downs and they’ll exit the Big 10 tournament in the second round. They’ll land a no. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and lose to Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
9. UNC: The Tar Heels will go 7 – 4 in November and December and fall out of the rankings, after Barnes trips over the goal post in the Hofstra game and hits his head on Zeller’s knee, breaking Zeller’s kneecap and falling into a coma. One bright spot will be a win over Kentucky. After squeaking by St. Francis of Pennsylvania on January 2, the Tar Heels will learn that Barnes has come out of the coma. In his excitement, Roy Williams will leap up and accidentally smack a female reporter in the face, which Duke fans and other ABCers will describe as “Roy punches female reporter in the face” while the UNC Sports Information Office declines to comment. Trying to make amends, Roy will apologize to the reporter, explaining that it was an accident, but will make matters worse by adding, “I was just so happy. That li’l rascal coming out of the coma is even better than the rescue of those miners in Chile.” UNC ends up 3rd in the ACC (only because the rest of the conference is so horrible), after Barnes rejoins the team the last week in January. They end up with a No. 6 seed in the tournament, but lose in the second round to Syracuse. UNC fans pretend they’re happy that UNC made the tournament at all and won a game, but actually they are seething with rage and disappointment.
10. Kentucky: Out of conference, Kentucky will lose only to the ranked teams, including UNC and in conference, they’ll lose to Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi State (in double overtime). They will play Florida for the SEC championship and lose, but will still end up with a No. 2 seed. They’ll lose in the Elite Eight to Gonzaga only because I will have picked them to win in that bracket and Gonzaga has spoiled every bracket I’ve ever made since they started going to the tournament. There will be lots of predictions that their season will be vacated as Calipari haters and bloggers come up with extremely convoluted stories of corruption and agents, but in the end, Kentucky’s season will stay intact as the NCAA decides to take another look at Baylor’s recruiting instead.

Flowcharting the 2010 NCAA Tournament

Want to dominate your office pool but don’t know a thing about college basketball?

This would be a great time to create water-cooler talk with the boss, wouldn’t it?

Well here at EJSIC, we’re here to provide exactly what the people want: below, you’ll find the key to winning your office pool, with the EJSIC 2010 NCAA Tournament flowchart.

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College Basketball Top 25 1/31/10

The EJSIC Top 25: NCAA Basketball
January 3, 2010
Pre-season poll, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11

So, without further ado, here are our rankings (votes – first place votes), with next week’s schedule. Week 12 will be games played between January 31 and February 6. As the season progresses, we’ll keep a log of top 25 and top 50 wins so you can follow the important information to the NCAA tournament. The records and stats come from realtimerpi.

1. Kansas 20-1 (6-0) (147 – 4)
…..vs. Top 25: 3-1, vs. Top 50: 4-0
…..Next week: @ Colorado 2/03, vs. Nebraska 2/06
2. Syracuse 21-1 (8-1) (143 – 1)
…..vs. Top 25: 3-1, vs. Top 50: 1-0
…..Next week: vs. Providence 2/02
3. Kentucky 20-1 (5-1) (138 – 1)
…..vs. Top 25: 1-0, vs. Top 50: 2-0
…..Next week: vs. #13 Mississippi 2/02, @ LSU 2/06
4. Villanova 19-1 (8-0) (136)
…..vs. Top 25: 1-1, vs. Top 50: 4-0
…..Next week: vs Seton Hall 2/02, @ #8 Georgetown 2/06
5. Michigan State 19-3 (9-0) (124)
…..vs. Top 25: 1-1, vs. Top 50: 1-0
…..Next week: @ #13 Wisconsin 2/02, @ Illinois 2/06

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Al takes a lickin’, but comes back kickin’ with predictions for tonight’s top 25 action.

Al after last night's games were over

Have I mentioned that I hate Wednesdays? I woke up to find that 4 out of my 5 predictions were wrong (I was out last night and didn’t watch basketball); I had to wrestle with a recalcitrant new version of InDesign for most of the day; I had to deal with someone who is neither an editor or writer trying to edit a poster I wrote; my daughter got mad at me because I insist on claiming her as a dependent on my taxes because, well, she was. Then there was the sad news about the earthquake in Haiti. On the bright side, the Lane Kiffin departure to USC has created all kinds of hilarity in the sporting world. Oh, and a friend dropped by with doughnuts and coffee.

Now I’m torn. If I watch the games I want to watch tonight while keeping an eye on the scoreboard, I won’t get a single prediction right because that’s how Wednesdays work for me. Also, UNC will lose no matter what. If I wait until tomorrow to check out the scores because Thursdays are marginally better for me, then I miss a great night of basketball. See, how much Wednesdays suck? I’d really like to petition my life to let me just go straight from Tuesday to Thursday.

Well, time for me to quit whining like an N.C. State fan when asked about ACC officiating and get down to business.

No. 1 Texas at Iowa State. Even though Texas is due for a fall and they’re playing at Iowa State, the time for the Rick Barnes-coached team to collapse is not quite upon us. Check back in a week or two.

No 3 Kansas at Nebraska. Teams in the top 10 are toppling faster than you can say “weakest year ever” and then punctuating their embarrassments with yet another loss (see Purdue and West Virginia). But I’m hanging on to my faith in Bill Self as a motivator and giving Kansas this win.

No. 5 Syracuse at Rutgers. If a virtually illegible post written by someone on the Rutgers message boards who forgot to take his lithium is to be believed, there are some internal issues at Rutgers. Meanwhile, Syracuse has managed not to lose another game after losing to Pitt and has now won two more games. I know I’m playing with fire by going with three of the top 5 teams actually winning tonight, but think Syracuse can take Rutgers–internal issues or no.

Anyone else sick of this guy?

Boston College at No. 7 Duke. Because today is Wednesday, this is the only game I’ll get right. Guaranteed. I’d like to add that I’m really sick of having Jon Scheyer shoved in my face every time I log onto espn.com. Hopefully, the Lane Kiffin news will take care of that.

Minnesota at No. 8 Michigan State. This one is really, really hard because it truly could go either way. On paper, MSU is clearly the favorite, but the Big 10 (like the ACC) is in disarray right now and no team is invulnerable. I’m picking MSU only because I want  them to win, but I won’t be surprised if this is an upset. By the way, good luck to anyone who thinks they can beat MSU in February because you won’t.

No. 9 West Virginia at South Florida. Like all alleged sportswriters, I’m a turncoat. I’ve gone from thinking that West Virginia could beat Syracuse to wondering if they’ll even finish third in the Big East. South Florida has dropped three straight, though. My fingers are crossed that WVU comes through in the clutch.

No. 13 North Carolina at No. 19 Clemson. Sorry, Jose, but I’m going to watch this game, it’s Wednesday (a double whammy because historically UNC does not play well on Wednesdays), and Clemson’s playing at home. So grab your rifle and come find me.

No. 20 Pittsburgh at No. 15 Connecticut. And I thought picking between Minnesota and MSU was going to be hard. This one is next to impossible to call. I had to resort to the coin. I’m still not sure I feel good about what the coin just told me.

No. 16 Wisconsin at Northwestern. This is an upset waiting to happen. Wisconsin gave it all to upset Purdue and I think they’ll come out flat against a pretty solid Northwestern team.

No. 17 Brigham Young at Air Force. Wow, BYU’s only lost one game. On the other hand, they’ve mostly played cupcakes and lower mid-majors. Air Force hasn’t played anyone and has lost 7 games. It’s always risky to pick a ranked mid-major to win a game, but what the hell.

The site of a possible Yellow Jacket upset

No. 18 Georgia Tech at Virginia. Georgia Tech, like Wisconsin, pulled a big upset on Saturday and is not likely to play well tonight, not that any ACC team is really playing well this season. For those reasons, I’m giving the upset to the Wahoos.

No. 21 Temple at Pennsylvania. One can only hope that Temple can beat the hapless Quakers.

No. 23 Mississippi at Georgia. Another coin toss provided me with my pick because I think these teams are evenly matched despite Mississippi’s better record.

For those of you wondering whether I’ll watch any game other than UNC-Clemson tonight, you’ll have your answers as the results roll in.

I’m late, I’m late…for a very light prediction slate

I wonder if anyone in or at this sold out bowl has Pacific Life Insurance.

Okay, I have exactly 37 minutes to get these predictions out. That’s when three of the four Top 25 basketball games being played tonight begin. The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl begins at 8:00, so I need to get started.

Tonight’s bowl game: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl

No. 20 Arizona vs. No. 22 Nebraska. This is a really tough one to predict. Both teams did pretty well in historically tough conferences and Nebraska almost eliminated Texas from the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game (I’m refusing to call it the National Championship game because that would be an insult to the real national championship games played each year).  Both teams also had some inexplicable losses. For Arizona it was Washington and for Nebraska it was Iowa State. (I also think that their loss to Virginia Tech is questionable.) Given that how teams play in bowl games rarely reflects their season of play because the bowl games are usually a month after their last game of the season, I tossed a coin for this one. Nebraska won.

Tonight’s basketball games

Albany at No. 9 North Carolina. Historically, UNC plays horribly on Wednesdays (and Sundays in February). Historically, Wednesday is a really bad day for me–the kind of day where I stub my toe on my desk chair, find that I forgot to pay my gas bill and they’ve cut it off,  and my daughter announces she got a speeding ticket for going 83 in a 65. The only ways to ensure that UNC wins is for me to watch the game in China or Australia where it’s already Thursday or wait and check the scores on Thursday. Since I can’t travel to China or Australia (see how Wednesdays suck?), I’ll check the score in the morning.

No. 10 Connecticut at Cincinnati. I think Connecticut is a good team this

Al's sniffed out an upset for the Huskies.

year, despite their drubbing at the hands of Duke–a win that Duke will ride all the way to their undeserved 2nd seed in the East. However, because of real or imagined (I vote for real) parity in the Big East, I’m sensing an upset here. Some will say a shocking upset, but Cincinnati is also pretty good–and they’re playing at home.

Texas-Arlington at No. 11 Michigan State. Kudos to Michigan State for playing a really tough schedule. They hung tight against Texas and for a while there, they looked like they might win. Fortunately, they have a breather tonight. And for all those people wondering why they’re ranked and predicting that they’ll end up in third place in the Big 10, I’m warning you now: this team will only get better as the season progresses.

No. 19 Temple at Northern Illinois. Kudos to Temple for traveling to the home of the Northern Illinois Huskies. Unfortunately, playing at home will not help the poor Huskies, who have only won two games this year. Temple’s doing really well this season and it’s nice to see them back in the Top 25. I always think they’re in the Big East though; it’s always a shock to realize they’re in the Atlantic 10.

Okay, I now have 11 minutes to add some photos to this post, so I’m signing off until tomorrow.

At last, a satisfying slate of games: Al’s predictions for today’s Top 25 men’s basketball action

Snowed in today? Darn. Now you have no choice but to watch some great games.

After a week of absolutely no earth-shattering match-ups and almost no men’s basketball drama (on the court at least), we have some great games today and tomorrow. And wasn’t it great of Mother Nature to send the mid-Atlantic and northeast a nor ‘easter that will bring blizzard-like conditions to America’s hotbed of basketball? Now you can’t be dragged out of the house for Christmas shopping and can kick back, remote in hand and get in on all the action. Here’s how I think things will play out today and tomorrow.

Saturday’s games

Michigan at No. 1 Kansas. There’s a lot of talk about how good the Big 10 is

Bill Self might be puzzled, but the rest of us know why his team is No. 1.

this year. They won the Big 10 – ACC challenge this year. Wisconsin scored a big upset over Duke. OSU and Michigan State each gave UNC a game and didn’t give up. However, Michigan has been struggling. And no matter how much people yell, “Play somebody!” Kansas is currently demonstrating why they’re number 1 by winning with huge margins against their cupcakes. Therefore, I’m giving Kansas an easy win here.

No. 10 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Texas. For many fans, this is the game of the day, but not for me. I’m only happy when I can watch Tar Heels beat the crap out of teams. If the game is close, I suffer. Anyway, I hate picking against my own team almost as much as I hate Rick Barnes, but I don’t see an option here. I love my Tar Heels, but I don’t think they can play a complete game against the Longhorns. While we’re  improving, we’re still inconsistent and error-prone. To beat a team with the talent of Texas, we need to play flawless basketball for 40 minutes. Also, no team that I really love has won at the Taj Mahal the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium yet.

Austin Peay at No. 3 Kentucky. This is a no-brainer. By the way, here’s a message for my friend Flopped: This is why I like John Calipari: “Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson said he was surprised by Knight’s comments but that Knight’s words seem to be part of the national perception of his coach. ‘People hear stuff about him and they kind of guess what he’s like, but playing for him and actually being around him, he’s a great guy,’ Harrellson said. ‘He’s fair to everybody.’” You can read more about this here. A good measure of a coach is how his or her players feel about him or her.

Ball State vs. No. 4 Purdue. Okay, I’ve been caught napping here. I didn’t realize the Boilermakers were ranked so high. But as I look at their schedule, I can see that this is a deserved ranking, although I personally would put them in the No. 5 spot and bump Syracuse up to No. 4. This will be an easy victory for Purdue and will put Ball State at 3-5.

St. Bonaventure at No. 5 Syracuse. Poor St. Bonaventure. That’s all that needs to be said here.

The defeat of St. Bonaventure the University will be a lot less mysterious than the saint's death.

No. 6 West Virginia at Cleveland State. Kudos to West Virginia for traveling to the home court of a cupcake. And before an angry Cleveland State Viking fan objects to their school being called  a cupcake, citing last season’s success, I have this retort: “You lost to Virginia. Case closed.”

No. 15 Gonzaga vs. No. 7 Duke. I’ve decided that this is my game of the day and even the week. I’m also going to enjoy this match the most of any played today because I loathe both teams. I loathe Gonzaga for always busting my NCAA brackets in the office pool by winning when I pick them to lose and losing when I pick them to win. I don’t think I need to explain why I loathe Duke. And for that reason, I have to pick Gonzaga, even though I know that, at the end of this game, I’ll be furious with them. Because now that I’ve picked them to win, they’ll lose by 20 points. Oh, well, at least the Duke fans I like will be happy with the outcome of my reverse mojo.

No. 8 Tennessee at USC. On paper, Tennessee looks to be the much better team. But, for some reason, I’m sensing an upset here.

No. 9 Villanova at Fordham. I would really like to give a hand to the Big East teams like WVU and Villanova for not mandating that their cupcakes all travel to play them.

Old Dominion at No. 11 Georgetown. Will Georgetown score 20 points before the half? Tune into this yawner to find out.

What does IPFW stand for and why is their mascot this extinct guy?

IPFW at No. 12 Michigan State. This game is full of question marks (with the exception of who will win). What the heck does IPFW stand for? And why are they the mastodons? Are they some special kind of archaeology institute?

Richmond vs. No 13 Florida. I think Florida’s ranking is too low. In my mythical poll, I would put them at No. 11 and move Georgetown and Michigan State down a rank. If any team in the SEC is going to beat Kentucky this year, I think it’ll be Florida. Sorry Vols fans, but that’s how I feel. Of course, I’m not completely ruling out that spoiler team called Mississippi either as one that might upset Kentucky.

Xavier at No. 17 Butler. If Texas Tech and Wichita State weren’t playing today, I’d dub this the mid-major game of the week. Butler has a better record and will probably pull it out in the end, but I think Xavier will play them close. This looks to be a fun game and one that most can watch dispassionately.

Delaware State at No. 18 Ohio State. The Buckeyes should sleepwalk to a win against 4-4 Delaware State.

Creighton at No. 19 New Mexico. Creighton’s one of those teams that espn.com loves to pump up (along with Butler and Dayton) in the most annoying way to try to generate excitement over the mid-majors. Sadly, these teams rarely have the success that espn.com claims they will have. Anyway, New Mexico has this one in the bag.

No. 20 Texas Tech at Wichita State. This is my mid-major game of the day and if Gonzaga and Duke weren’t playing today, it would be my game of the day period. Texas Tech is undefeated and won one of the most exciting games of the season when they beat Washington. Wichita State has only lost to Pitt. I like Wichita State for the upset, but it’ll be close.

Portland at No. 21 Washington. This is a tough call. Portland started the season out with a bang but has kind of fizzled of late, dropping three straight before beating Denver. Washington hasn’t beaten anybody of note. I think Washington will pull it out in the end, though.

No. 22 Kansas State at Alabama. Kansas State is having a great season. Alabama, not so much. However, I sense another upset here, maybe because Kansas State’s one loss has come at the hands of another SEC team, Mississippi.

USC Upstate at No. 23 UNLV. I’ve lived adjacent to South Carolina all my life and this is the first I’ve ever heard of USC Upstate. However, I just looked them up and found out that they used to be the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. Mystery solved. Anyway, they’ve only won one game this season, this should be an easy win for UNLV.

Charleston at No. 24 Clemson. Charleston’s having a decent season, but they’ll be no match for the Tigers.

Centenary at No. 25 Mississippi. I’m still basking in the fact that I predicted that the UTEP-Mississippi game would be close and I was right. Today, however, the Rebels have what should be a breather against Centenary.

Sunday’s games

UCF at No. 14. Connecticut. This should be a fun C-USA – Big East match up. UCF has some good wins and an inexplicable loss to Niagara. Connecticut has had some great games and have only lost to two heavy-hitters: Duke and Kentucky. I think UCF will keep it close for awhile, but Connecticut will start to dominate midway through the second half as UCF starts to get tired.

Florida State at No. 15 Georgia Tech. This early ACC match up should also be a fun one. Georgia Tech has only lost one game and Florida State has only lost two. Florida State’s losses (Florida and OSU) have been respectable while Georgia Tech’s loss (Dayton) was inexplicable. I’m giving Georgia Tech the edge only because they’re playing at home and not because I think they’re the better team.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready for some basketball now. I’m going to go finish decorating the tree and prepare for six hours of bliss mixed with angst (the UNC – Texas game).