Originally posted on Just Cover Blog  |  Last updated 3/22/13
Moving onto today’s actions. Some preview-ish type of thoughts: ****The Marshall Henderson Show hits the NCAA Tournament this afternoon. Here’s the deal with Henderson. He’s a good player, not a great player, who can light up the nets and his mouth, bringing an excitement to the gym that was sorely needed across the SEC Basketball landscape this winter. When he’s on, like during stretches of the SEC Tournament when he averaged 23.67 points per game, he can carry the Rebs a round or two in this field. If he’s off, he’s a black hole of comic proportions. When is the Over/Under on time of game that Wisconsin Bo Ryan flips out on Henderson and attempts to strangle him at midcourt? I kid, but I cant imagine a grump like Ryan likes the sideshow Henderson brings. I imagine Ryan as the cranky opposing football coach in Remember The Titans who askes incredulously if the Titans think they’re the Beatles and demands his snarling nose guard to ‘shut them up, shut them up hard.’ I’m betting Ryan is having a similar conversation about Henderson with Mike Bruesewitz right now. Speaking of Bruesewitz and his cronies on the rugged Wisconsin frontline, keep an eye on their battles with Ole Miss bigs Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway. Henderson steals the headlines but without those two raising their game last weekend, the Rebels dont win the SEC Tournament. Holloway was spectatcular in the title game against Florida going for 23 points and 10 boards. The Badgers force you to play basketball out of your comfort zone and they’ll do that to Ole Miss all afternoon. Will Henderson maintain his disciplne in a Badgers style of game? I say there’s too much big game experience on Wisconsin. The Badgers went 9-8 vs 17 eventual tournament teams this year, while Ole Miss went just 2-3. Thats got to count for something during the tense moments of the second half, right? Timely treys from Bruesewitz, Brust and Decker key the offense and the bad ass Badger D holds the Rebels to less than 60 points. They win by a touchdown. ****The game in KC after the Badgers play looks like an exciting one between La Salle and Kansas St. Are the Wildcats on upset alert? They could be if the hotshot guard play of the Explorers continues. The problem for La Salle will be keeping KSU off the offensive glass. On paper, its a great offensive rebounding team against a poor defensive rebounding one. It wont matter how many points Ramon Galloway can pour in for La Salle if they give KSU 2-3 possessions at a time throughout the game. I have a feeling about this one despite the mismatch on the boards. Dont forget, Bruce Weber is just 2-4 in this event since taking the Illini to the title game in 2005. I guess it helps when Deron Williams is on your roster. I see La Salle catching as many as six points at some shops. I like this underdog. ****Looking for BIG underdog to take? Consider Northwestern St over Florida tonight. I watched the Southland Title game and was really impressed at how Northwestern St played. They are relentless on offense. They’ll sub in waves of players. And they wont stop trying to scoring. I came away convinced that they’re a feisty underdog in the Big Dance. They drew Florida and are 21-point underdogs. I think  they push Florida a bit, maybe even flirt with the major upset. But with the Gators coming in a 5-10 ATS run as chalk and Northwestern St being a  darling I fell for during the conference tournaments, I am thinking of taking this whole mess of points. I dont fear the 130 ranking difference between the teams on KenPom. If you’re looking for a big underdog to cover the spread, this is your game. **** I couldnt help but wonder as #16 seed Southern was trading blows with top seeded Gonzaga into the final minute of the game, just how times I would puke from nerves if the same thing happened to my Hoosiers in their 1 vs 16 game later today. It would be a high number. And, of course, I can come up with a way to worry about this game. They’re playing James Madison out of the Colonial Athletic Association. Yes, the same league we love as underdogs annually in this event whose teams are regulars at pulling off upsets. How rare is it that a league thats placed two programs in the Final Four in the last six years now has a tean as a lowly 16-seed? The CAA Champ doess not fit the profile of the usual 16-seed fodder. They’re 18th in the KenPom conference rankings, so you’d think their champion wouldnt be relegated this low. They appear underseeded. Here’s a number to watch while watching Indiana and Kansas, the other #1 seed making their tourney debut today. There have been 13 1/16 games decided by single digits, but only three of those top seeds eventually advanced into the Final Four. Gonzaga now becomes the 14th team in that group. In fact, only five of 28 #1 seeds that won their first game by less than 20 points made the Final Four. However its a different story if you put a whupping on the tomato can. More than half the #1 seeds (38 out of 71) with wins of more than 20 points went on the Final Four. Louisville joined that group last night. Which group will Kansas and Indiana fall into today? **** In 2010, the then Pac-10 had an atrocious regular season. Only two teams made the field, Cal and Washington. I bet against both because LOL PAC-12. And both won their first round games. I even bet against Washington in the next round against New Mexico, but the 11-seed eased their way into the Sweet 16. So I went 0-3  in the NCAAs betting against what was the worst major conference that year. I was having flashbacks to that disaster yesterday. Again, after a meh regular season for the conference, I found my easily gravatating  to the other side in Pac-12 games. I got waxed. Picking against Arizona, Cal and Oregon, I lost all three. Today, the league has two teams playing. Both are in Big 10/Pac-12 challenge games with Colorado taking on Illinois, Team Chucker from the Big 10, and UCLA battling Minnesota in the final tip of the round during the late night. The Gophers are the 11-seed, but are actually favored by 3.5. I like Illinois chances. I really do. Dont laugh. I feel they’re at least playing with some purpose and direction. The Gophers look like they quit on the season down the stretch. I wouldnt be surprised if they gave us an apahetic effort resembling Missouri’s last night. Besides, I’d take Howland over Tubby in a tournament game any day of the week. Given how way off I was with the Pac-12 coming into the tournament, my credibility is limited here. But I’d go with Illinois and UCLA. ****All the 7-10 and 2-15 games are today. Is that important? No not really, but it seems like a weird scheduling quirk. I wouldnt expect any troubles for the #2 seeds. But Duke will be in the Same Spot Syndrome after being upset last year when they open the day’s festivities against Albany. It would be a total gas to add them to the maligned list of teams over the years who fell victim to an upset in consecutive years. Fellow ACC mate Miami is only a 13-point favorite in their 2/15 game vs Pacific. Georgetown faces a sneaky efficient and solid shooting Florida Gulf Coast team. While Ohio State faces MoMo Jones and Iona. Is it worth pointing out that the last time OSU played the MAAC champ in this event, they lost in the first round? Probably. But for balance sake, it’s also worth noting that was an 8/9 game vs Fran McCaffery’s powerful Siena club. Four years ago, that was expected to be a coin flip, while this is projected to be a mismatch. ****Quick calls on the four 7-10 games: I like Creighton over Cincy. We saw a good Missouri Valley team beat a good Big East team with Wichita over Pitt yesterday. Today, I’ll ride the good Missouri Valley team over the average Big East one. I mentioned our slight lean towards Illinois over Colorado above. In the other two, we’re riding the Big 12. Sooners over San Diego State, adding to the Mountain West misery, and Iowa State over Notre Dame. I really like watching the Cylones play. In a game that should have a good deal of offense, I like ISU’s better overall firepower. ****How about predictions in the two 8/9 games today also!! We’ve got North Carolina over Villanova and NC State over Temple. A Tobacco Road sweep over Phily. They are the more talented teams. The Heels are playing some good basketball down the stretch and their new, small lineup matches up really well against the perimeter focused Wildcats. As for the Pack, I hate picking that flukey bunch to do anything well. But they’re playing a Temple program that’s really done next to nothing in this event recently. Say what you will about the overall state of the Nc State program, but they’ve always overachieved some in this event, when they’re able to qualify that is. This was a top-10 team before the season started. They should be good for one win. Every pick above is just a lean and for straight up purposes. We had a sour day yesterday and might hold off on any formal picks against the spread until tomorrow. We always do better in the Round of 32. At least that’s our story. Truthfully, we’re still organizing our card and as picks cement we’ll send out the call via Twitter. The post NCAA Tournament: Friday Round Of 64 appeared first on Just Cover.
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