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- March 12, 2006
The NCAA First Round - Read It And Weep
Well, folks, here it is!

The often imitated, never duplicated, SmedIndy picks and pans of the first round of the NCAA Division I basketball tournament!

Sunday, the NCAA revealed its pairings for the first round of the tourney, and I, for years, have provided some snarky commentary along with some knee-jerk predictions for the first round. And this year, it’s no different.

Regular readers, who care not about the NCAA tourney, may click back one to read some other drivel that I posted this weekend. However, I think you will enjoy the writing, no matter what, because everyone loves snark, even if you have no idea what it’s about, right?? Amen! This is long, so bear with me. Oh, and join this degenerate’s NCAA pool. I’m in it.

Disclaimer and notes: These first round picks may or may not actually be who I choose for the NCAA first round games. I’m picking these with my heart and with my snark. For actual cash money, I’ll use my head. Heh. Records are against D-1 opponents only, as D-1 teams should pick on people their own size. I’m also listing my final power ranking in parenthesis, because I can.

Atlanta Regional

Duke (30-3) (1) vs. Southern (19-12)(157) - I was surprised to see Southern out of the play-in game, but again the SWAC winner faces a tough road, even though Duke has been struggling a bit as of late. And wouldn’t you just like to punch Greg Paulus in the face a few times? Well, except if he was on your team, and then you’d love him to death. Duke 91, Southern 65

George Washington (26-2) (28) vs. North Carolina – Wilmington (25-7) (34) - Warning: Actual basketball analysis. Ah, a very intriguing 8-9 game. GW had no strength of schedule whatsoever (208th even after their conference season), so that 26-2 record is a bit inflated. UNC-W is a fine team coming out an improving league that I think will oust the Colonials, since Pops Mensah-Bonsu still is out with an injury. UNC – W 69, GW 61

Syracuse (23-11)(31) vs. Texas A & M (21-8)(36) - If Syracuse had lost its first round matchup in the Big East tourney, then they’d probably be in the NIT and Cincy would be in. As it stands, the world gets to hear me dis Jim Boeheim one more time. A totally undeserved #5 seed for Syracuse, as those clowns rode the coattails of a hyper-inflated conference. Put Syracuse in the MVC, and they’re still 23-11, or worse. A&M is a #12 seed because they refuse to play anyone in non-conference worth a hoot. Still, it’s a tourney pickem, and that means I cannot pick Syracuse. It’s written in the Indiana Penal Code. Texas A & M 69, Syracuse 61

LSU (22-8) (14) vs. Iona (23-7) (50) - LSU had a fine team, and they’ve really washed away any Dale Brown stain that was ever clinging to their team. However, they drew a tough one with Iona, and Steve Burtt, Jr. is a fine player. His old man played in the NBA, and Burtt graduated early. But that’s no enough, this time, but I’d take the points. LSU 71, Iona 68

West Virginia (19-10) (26) vs. Southern Illinois (22-9) (35) - The darlings of the tourney last year will get Pittsnogled this year by the Salkuis. Why? These guys know how to guard someone, and that includes a folk-hero over-tattooed hilljack. Digger Phelps complained about the MVC after seeing Bradley clank up a lot against Southern Illinois. Hey Digger, it’s called defense, but I guess you never coached that at Notre Dame, either. Southern Illinois 59, West Virginia 55

Iowa (25-8) (15) vs. Northwestern State (22-7) (63) - Have you seen Greg Brunner of Iowa? He looks like he’s 40 and a middle manager at Dunder Mifflin. Seriously, check his birth certificates. The reward for winning the Big 10 tourney is a date with a very dangerous foe that has shown no fear of big time teams this year. This could be a game that Iowa gulps on. Iowa 72, NW State 71

California (20-10)(45) vs. North Carolina State (21-9)(29) - I think the seeds were reversed based on my power rankings. I know NC State has been struggling and looked awful against Wake Forest, but they’ve had a solid body of work. Cal will find out how good the ‘Pack are. NC State 75, Cal 69

Texas (27-6)(5) vs. Penn (19-8)(79) - Normally, I’d pick the smart guys, because, well, smart guys rock. But the Ivy was way down, and Penn really hasn’t played THAT well, considering. Texas has looked great, and looked ordinary. They can just look ordinary and win this one. Texas 80, Penn 66

Oakland Regional

Memphis (30-3)(7) vs. Oral Roberts (20-11)(107) - I think the committee was in a tough spot. Memphis’ conference is dogmeat for the most part, and normally they’d get the GW treatment if not for a good non-conference slate and the fact that all the other contenders for a #1 spit the bit. Anyway, they’ll smack down our evangelical friends like the good heathens they are. Memphis 87, Oral Roberts 60

Arkansas (21-9)(24) vs. Bucknell (25-4)(44) - Soo-ee. The Hogs are a fine team, but have done a lot of home cookin’ this year. Bucknell beat Syracuse, and played well in other games. I think the smart guys have enough intestinal fortitude to win this matchup, but they haven’t played a team this tough since Northern Iowa, so I hope they use their sense memory and remember how it is to play a tough team. Bucknell 66, Arkansas 64

Pitt (24-7)(10) vs. Kent State (24-8)(52) - Wow, who did Pitt piss off on the committee? They had a great pedigree as far as I saw, and a better SOS than UConn, non-conference. So why are they up against a tough, savvy Kent State team and not Boston College? Hmmm. Kevin Warzynski of Kent State looks like he should be on Room 222, and that’s not a compliment. Pitt 70, Kent State 68

Kansas (24-7)(17) vs. Bradley (20-10)(38) - This would be a perfect spot for my annual upset special, however, marital relations mandate that I must pick Kansas, and they have looked better in the last half of the year. Bradley, like the MVC, gets the pooch again. Jim Nantz, shut up. The reason Maryland’s not in is because they’re lame, not because teams like Bradley aren’t worthy. Tell Maryland to schedule teams like that instead of Kenesaw State, OK? Kansas 71, Bradley 68

Indiana (18-11)(46) vs. San Diego State (22-8)(48) - I haven’t been THAT impressed with Indiana, even on their mini-flurry at the end, so a #6 is high. But a #11 is high for the Aztecs as well. And the coaching matchup? I’ll take Mike Davis or Steve “Roll the balls out and get out of the way” Fisher any day. Indiana 70, San Diego State 62

Gonzaga (27-3)(13) vs. Xavier (21-10)(56) - I’m a champion of the little guy, but Gonzaga is seeded right where they should be, if not a bit high. They kind of lazed their way through a lot of the year, especially in conference. Xavier will challenge them, though Adam Morrison and his skeevy ‘stache will survive and advance. Gonzaga 70, Xavier 65

Marquette (19-10)(32) vs. Alabama (17-12)(70) - Alabama? I don’t know. I know they’ve had injuries, but man, Missouri State could take ‘em, I’m sure. And so could Florida State, and Hofstra, and Creighton, and Akron, and Western Kentucky, and Old Dominion. You get the jist. They had trouble with Birmingham Southern, for cripes sake. Marquette 79, Alabama 55

UCLA (27-6)(9) vs. Belmont (20-10)(131) - I think it was more fun when Steve Lavin was coaching UCLA, and you could see the hair oil pool around his feet if he got mad. They have put together a very nice season, albeit a quiet one for those of us in the Midwest who value sleep. This is Belmont’s first time in the big dance, but it won’t be gentle, so expect Belmont to go militant in a few years and take Lipscomb as a lover. Heh. UCLA 80, Belmont 59

Washington DC Regional

UConn (27-3)(3) vs. Albany (21-10)(114) - OK, UConn is a fine team, but my God man, playing Texas Southern, Army and Stony Brook does nothing for you but give your walk-ons chubbies because they get 3 to 5 minutes. (Those three teams were 323, 328 and 312 on my power rating, BTW). Albany is the Great Danes, a fine breed of dog but not good for basketball. They have trouble going to their left, and their slobber makes it hard to grip the ball to shoot. UConn 90, Albany 71

Kentucky (21-12)(40) vs. UAB (23-6)(33) - Got some darts? Throw them. Kentucky is inconsistent and a lot of UAB’s conference foes would have trouble against the top D-3 teams (no fooling). Who wins this one? I’d be tempted to say no one, but I can’t do that. So I’ll choose against the ‘Cats, just because they’re Kentucky UAB 70, Kentucky 67

Washington (24-6)(18) vs. Utah State (22-8)(53) - I was very surprised when Utah State got in, but it was a pleasant surprise. They’re a fine program that always play hard and almost beat Nevada. They face a Washington team that I think underachieved this year. I smell a 5-12 upset, I do. And it smells like victory! Utah State 63, Washington 59

Illinois (25-6)(8) vs. Air Force (22-6)(42) - Warning, actual basketball content: This one was a big shock to me. I love Air Force, I really do, as that offense rocks (well, it crawls) and they had the power pedigree (but so did Missouri State). Illinois played over expectations, really, considering what they had returning. Just a word of warning for those upset minded folks. Illinois pasted Northwestern twice this year, and Air Force uses the same offense. Oops. Illinois 59, Air Force 50

Michigan State (21-11)(27) vs. George Mason (23-7)(30) - Ok, this is where Jim Nantz can really shut his pie hole. George Mason deserves to be in. Ask Maryland if they will play them, home and home? Nope. The committee did right by placing the Patriots in here and keeping the whiners home. And if their star player, Tony Skinn, hadn’t violated everyone’s code of conduct by punching a Hofstra player in the manhood, I’d pick ‘em. Well, I’ll pick ‘em anyway, as I don’t really like this Spartans team. And then George Mason can go punch Nantz in the groin. Heh. George Mason 70, Michigan State 61

North Carolina(22-7)(6) vs. Murray State (23-6)(72) - Roy Williams did a heck of a coaching job this year, as not many people had North Carolina in their top 25 or top 40, even, because of all the losses. The man can coach. And he makes her very happy. North Carolina 69, Murray State 59

Wichita State (23-8)(25) vs. Seton Hall (18-11)(57) - I had Seton Hall out. O-U-T. But they’re in and Missouri State isn’t. Well, Shockers, prove the pundits wrong. Liz went there for a year, too, so again, the spousal rules are in effect. Wichita State 70, Seton Hall 63

Tennessee(21-7)(12) vs. Winthrop (21-7)(74) - Bruce Pearl and his orange suits and suspenders is NOT a good look. It must been seen to believed. However, that look may have gotten his team a #2 seed, though I think they are susceptible to a big upset. Winthrop is no cupcake, not even a Danish. Tennessee 74, Winthrop 68

Minneapolis Regional


Monmouth (18-14)(169) vs. Hampton (16-15)(231) - Two surprise winners of low-major conferences meet in the great NCAA injustice game. Seriously, why can’t Alabama and Texas A & M play in this one, instead of these two teams that actually WON their last game. Oh, that would make too much sense, right. Monmouth 65, Hampton 55

Villanova (25-4)(2) vs. Monmouth - Well, even if the Hawks win on Tuesday, they won’t match well with Villanova. The Wildcats, unlike most of the Big East, actually play tough teams in the non-conference, and may have a long roll in the tourney. Villanova 80, Monmouth 61

Arizona (19-12)(51) vs. Wisconsin (19-11)(43) - During the selection show, Billy Packer, when ostensibly talking about the Kentucky / UAB game, rambled off this game and it wasn’t even announced yet. Oops. He’s confused about THAT, with 13,219 people instructing him on what to say, and we’re to believe HIM on what teams should be in or out? Go away, Packer. Go away. Wisconsin 61, Arizona 55

Nevada (26-5)(19) vs. Montana (21-6)(65) - Montana’s coach is Larry Krystowiak, former NBA player. He was a big bruiser, and I bet he wishes he could suit up against the Wolf Pack. They’d have a chance, then. Nevada 70, Montana 60

Boston College (25-7)(16) vs. Pacific (22-7)(71) - Duke’s not angels, and neither is BC. Actually, I like that, because for too long the ACC was a lily-livered league full of pansies. I mean, they actually wanted fouls called on contact. Right. Pacific is a good team but not as good as they were last year, so BC should roll on. Boston College 69, Pacific 59

Oklahoma (20-8)(22) vs. Wisconsin – Milwaukee (20-8)(54) - Kelvin Sampson’s team is really hard to get a read on this year, and this could be a trap game for them. However, the Panthers struggled at times, and even though I traditionally pick against Oklahoma (mainly because of Billy Tubbs’ tenure there – though that’s long past it’s still lingers in my mind) I can’t this time. I have to be sensible once in a while. Oklahoma 74, Wisc – Milwaukee 62

Florida (27-6)(11) vs. South Alabama (23-6)(61) - Could this be a 3-14 upset? Nope, even though I normally loath the Billy Donovan teams. But how could you not like Joakim Noah, especially when you remember Yannick Noah’s exploits as a tennis player. You think he gets any? Florida 65, South Alabama 54

Georgetown (21-9)(20) vs. Northern Iowa (21-9)(23) - Put up or shut up time for the MVC. I say put up. Be gone, Hoyas, be gone! Northern Iowa 64, Georgetown 59

Ohio State (25-5)(4) vs. Davidson (17-10)(104) - What a masterful job Thad Matta did at Ohio State this season, and with all of their recruits, they should be even better next season. Davidson, unfortunately, draws the short end. The Southern Conference was down, so it’s one and done for them. That’s sad, because Davidson have some smart guys as well. In fact, a professor at Wabash was surprised they even played sports at Davidson. Well, they do at Oberlin, too. Not very well, but they do. Ohio State 81, Davidson 69


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