To those of us who have been predicting the outcome of NCAA tournaments since before there was a 3-point line or 35-second shot clock, the great news of the 2011 edition of March Madness was that there are three more games to get right.
Perhaps the more likely scenario is it's just three more chances to be wrong. Please remember that as you consider one man's predictions for the next three weeks. (Winning team in UPPER CASE, seeding in parentheses).
Doubleheaders will be played at Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday, expanding the field to 68 teams.
|Tuesday, March 15|
CLEMSON (12) vs. University of Alabama at Birmingham (12) — Clemson was impressive in a win over Boston College and a loss to North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UAB wasn't impressive all season.
ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (16) vs. North Carolina-Asheville (16) — The Trojans won four games in as many days to win Sun Belt title, with conference Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left in championship game.
|Wednesday, March 16|
USC (11) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (11) — The Trojans have been better since point guard Jio Fontan took over and should prevail in the matchup of three-letter schools.
OHIO STATE (1) vs. Alabama State — The Buckeyes are the overall No. 1 seed for a reason.
VILLANOVA (9) vs. George Mason (8) — The Wildcats closed the season as poorly as any team in the field. Even though the Patriots may be tougher up front, Villanova's guards are really due.
WEST VIRGINIA (5) vs. Clemson (12) — The Mountaineers might not repeat last year's Final Four run, but they are good enough to win a couple of games.
KENTUCKY (4) vs. Princeton (13) — The Wildcats have NBA first-round talent. The Tigers have NCAA first-round talent.
MARQUETTE (11) vs. Xavier (6) — The Golden Eagles' late run in the Big East was more impressive than the Musketeers' quick flame out in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
SYRACUSE (3) vs. Indiana State (14) — It's always a big advantage for the Orange to get out of the Big East and face teams that haven't seen their zone defense.
WASHINGTON (7) vs. Georgia (10) — The Huskies have players who have made big plays, and the cross-country trip shouldn't bother them.
NORTH CAROLINA (2) vs. Long Island U. — LIU likes to try and score. The Tar Heels score.
OHIO STATE (1) vs. Villanova (9) — The Wildcats just don't have an inside presence to handle freshman Jared Sullinger.
WEST VIRGINIA (5) vs. Kentucky (4) — The way the Wildcats shot 3s so poorly in this regional final last year, it should take more than one season for the effects to wear off.
SYRACUSE (3) vs. Marquette (11) — In what could be the first of hundreds of Big East matchups, the Orange use their size to prevail.
NORTH CAROLINA (2) vs. Washington (7) — The Tar Heels have enough size to handle the Huskies up front and enough quickness to prevail in the backcourt.
OHIO STATE (1) vs. West Virginia (5) — This should be the first time the Buckeyes have to turn to their veterans to win a game.
SYRACUSE (3) vs. North Carolina (2) — The Orange have enough size in the back of the zone to keep the Tar Heels' away from the boards and enough quickness to offset Carolina's transition game.
SYRACUSE (3) vs. Ohio State (1) — Sullinger should have his hands full with Syracuse's Rick Jackson underneath, and one day of practice won't be enough time for the Buckeyes to get ready for the matchup zone.
DUKE (1) vs. Hampton (16) — Hampton beat Iowa State as a 15 seed in 2001. The Pirates won't beat Duke as a 16 seed 10 years later.
MICHIGAN (8) vs. Tennessee (9) — The early rounds of the NCAA tournament usually are the chance for better coaches to prevail.
ARIZONA (5) vs. Memphis (12) — The Wildcats are starting to look like the good teams of the program's recent past. The Tigers aren't looking much like their recent teams which had plenty of NCAA success under coach John Calipari.
TEXAS (4) vs. Oakland (13) — This is the vogue upset pick of the early rounds, but the Longhorns should do well away from the Big 12.
CONNECTICUT (3) vs. Bucknell (14) — With the Huskies on a roll, even a scary mid-major with NCAA upsets such as Bucknell won't have a chance.
TEMPLE (7) vs. Penn State (10) — There's no truth to the rumor that this game is being moved to Harrisburg.
SAN DIEGO STATE (2) vs. Northern Colorado (15) — Only BYU beat San Diego State this season.
DUKE (1) vs. Michigan (8) — This was some matchup when the Fab Five was at Michigan. They have been gone for 20 years.
TEXAS (4) vs. Arizona (5) — The Longhorns will have to handle Arizona's Derrick Williams, and they can.
CONNECTICUT (3) vs. Missouri (11) — Kemba Walker's legs should finally be back after nearly a week to rest following his incredible Big East tournament.
SAN DIEGO STATE (2) vs. Temple (7) — If the Owls hadn't been hit so hard by injuries in the frontcourt they might have enough to beat the Aztecs.
DUKE (1) vs. Texas (4) — The only time the Blue Devils lose is when they struggle from 3-point range. They should get some open looks against the Longhorns.
CONNECTICUT (3) vs. San Diego State (2) — Kemba Walker can offset D.J. Gay, all those big defenders can slow down Kawhi Leonard and somebody besides BYU beats the Aztecs.
CONNECTICUT (3) vs. Duke (1) — The West regional has meant Final Four — and two national championships — success for the Huskies who can extend their defense enough to make shooting 3s tough on the Blue Devils.
KANSAS (1) vs. Boston University (16) — It sounds cold, but the Morris twins might be able to win this one by themselves.
UNLV (8) vs. Illinois (9) — The Runnin' Rebels, the third team in the Mountain West race all season, should prevail in this matchup of two of Lon Kruger's coaching stops.
RICHMOND (12) vs. Vanderbilt (5) — It's not a rule that there has to be at least one 5-12 upset, but the Spiders and solid guard Kevin Anderson are more than capable.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Morehead State (13) — This all-commonwealth matchup should be decided by the Cardinals' pressure defense.
USC (11) vs. Georgetown (6) — The Hoyas missed injured point guard Chris Wright at the end of the season, and the Trojans can make them miss him even more.
PURDUE (3) vs. Saint Peter's (14) — The Boilermakers limped in with consecutive losses and they have too many options for the Peacocks, a good defensive team, to stop them all.
TEXAS A&M (7) vs. Florida State (10) — The Seminoles are hoping to get Chris Singleton back after missing a month with an injury. He might not be enough.
NOTRE DAME (2) vs. Akron (15) — It's fair to say Akron's chances at a major upset are zip.
KANSAS (1) vs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas (8) — The Jayhawks are so deep that teams such as UNLV will have to play a perfect game to stay close.
LOUISVILLE (4) vs. Richmond (12) — The Cardinals have been on a roll for the past few weeks, and coach Rick Pitino's pressure defense doesn't slump.
PURDUE (3) vs. University of Southern California (11) — It's hard to imagine the Trojans can stop both JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.
NOTRE DAME (2) vs. Texas A&M (7) — The veteran Irish are tough to rattle and good enough to keep the game at the pace they want.
KANSAS (1) vs. Louisville (4) — Even in the Big East there aren't many teams with the size the Jayhawks have and their guards are steady enough not to be bothered by the Cardinals' pressure.
PURDUE (3) vs. Notre Dame (2) — This all-Indiana matchup will be loaded with players who have been in a lot of big games, and Purdue's have been a little more successful.
KANSAS (1) vs. Purdue (3) — The Jayhawks' upset loss to Northern Iowa last season still stings, and a trip to the Final Four should help them finally get over it.
PITTSBURGH (1) vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (16) — The Panthers never have trouble in the opening round.
BUTLER (8) vs. Old Dominion (9) — The country is still smiling from the Bulldogs' miracle run last season, and there should be one more feel-good win.
KANSAS STATE (5) vs. Utah State (12) — A month ago it would have been easy to pick the Aggies. Now that Jacob Pullen is back to being Jacob Pullen, it's easy to pick the Wildcats.
BELMONT (13) vs. Wisconsin (4) — The Bruins can score against anybody. The Badgers can stop anybody. It's just hard to get that 36-33 loss to Penn State out of your mind.
GONZAGA (11) vs. St. John's (6) — The Bulldogs flew well under the radar this season while the Red Storm were one of college basketball's best stories. They do have 10 seniors, but none of them have ever played in an NCAA tournament game.
BYU (3) vs. Wofford (14) — The loss of suspended forward Brandon Davies won't bother the Cougars yet.
MICHIGAN STATE (10) vs. UCLA (7) — It's hard to pick against the Spartans, even after a season like this, as long as Tom Izzo is still in charge.
FLORIDA (2) vs. Cal-Santa Barbara (15) — The Gators were considered a surprise as a No. 2 seed. They really aren't.
PITTSBURGH (1) vs. Butler (8) — The Panthers do have trouble scoring, but they have made some games miserable for teams that can't get them into a running game.
KANSAS STATE (5) vs. Belmont (13) — The Wildcats expected to get this far all along.
GONZAGA (11) vs. Brigham Young (3) — The Bulldogs have a legitimate 7-footer in Robert Sacre, and the Cougars are sorely missing Davis.
FLORIDA (2) vs. Michigan State (10) — The Gators' backcourt of Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker should be too much to handle for the Spartans' depleted guard corps.
PITTSBURGH (1) vs. Kansas State (5) — This is one of those games where if you like defense and intensity, you'll be in heaven.
FLORIDA (2) vs. Gonzaga (11) — The Gators' tougher season will help them get through this one; don't be surprised if Chandler Parsons has his breakout tournament game.
PITTSBURGH (1) vs. Florida (2) — The Panthers were close to the Final Four two years ago. Jamie Dixon and his wildly successful program finally move on.
CONNECTICUT vs. Syracuse — It would be great if this game went six overtimes like they did in the Big East tournament two years ago or even one extra session like last week. A confidant Kemba Walker shouldn't be bothered by Syracuse's zone.
KANSAS vs. Pittsburgh — The Jayhawks just keep bringing players off the bench, and all that depth will negate the great things Pitt does in controlling tempo. Stopping two Morris twins seems too much for the Panthers.
CONNECTICUT vs. Kansas — You can't throw out karma especially when it's being directed by Kemba. Jim Calhoun gets title No. 3.