I made it through the first weekend intact – finally. It’s been a two year drought since I had a bracket not busted before Sunday night. Thanks to big upsets by Michigan State over Marquette, Furman over Virginia, Miami over Indiana, and Pittsburgh over Iowa State, I successfully picked 8 upsets over the weekend – straight up.
Now, we enter the Sweet 16 where everything gets trickier. So who do I like this weekend? Let’s get to the picks.
No. 3 Kansas State +1 over No. 7 Michigan State
Tom Izzo’s Spartans performed exactly how I predicted over the weekend, but their run ends on Thursday against the Wildcats. I’m kicking myself for not picking KSU to represent the East in the Final Four – in my bracket I have them losing to the now-eliminated Duke in the Elite Eight. However, I’ve been saying since the Wildcats took down Kansas in January that this was a team with Final Four potential. Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson were stellar against Kentucky in the Second Round, pulling away in the final minutes and overcoming a dreadful night shooting from behind the arc. That won’t happen again this weekend. Expect Kansas State to be more efficient on offense and tighten up the defense. KSU wins outright.
No. 15 Princeton +9.5 over No. 6 Creighton
I’m kicking myself for not trusting the Tigers to pull off the First Round upset against Arizona. I have yet to ever select a No. 15 seed to win the first day, but that could change in the coming years. However, Princeton was severely underseeded in this tournament and features three key starters averaging in the double-digits in scoring – Ryan Langborg, Tosan Evbuomwan, and Matt Allocco. Combined, these upperclassmen have the experience and offensive efficiency to keep it close against the Blue Jays. Creighton pulled off a nice upset against Baylor on Sunday, but I think this game will be closer than people expect. Tigers cover.
No. 2 Texas -4 over No. 3 Xavier
Xavier reaches the Sweet 16 after suffering a First Round scare against No. 14 Kennesaw State. It was able to defeat an overmatched Pittsburgh in the Second Round, but the Musketeers run will end on Friday. The Texas Longhorns remain one of the hottest teams in the country after bulldozing the competition to win the Big 12 conference and easily containing its first two opponents last weekend. Xavier won’t be able to keep up with the Longhorns offensive acumen and could find itself in a hole early. Texas covers.