I've kind of given up on being able to correctly predict the outcomes of NCAA Tournament games. Like many, I'm now just looking for great performances, exciting finishes and Cinderella storylines. Let's get to it:
7:15 CBS: (2) San Diego St vs. (3) UConn. It is irrational to pick Kemba Walker and UConn. San Diego State is as athletic as any team UConn has played this season -- and is playing in their backyard (not sure how much that matters, but presume it has to matter a bit). Then again, SDSU played like crap against Temple. At least one Big East team has to get through to the elite Eight, right? Pick: UConn.
7:27 TBS: (2) Florida vs. (3) BYU. I cannot properly talk about this game, because I am rooting so much for Florida. BYU won this game last year in the NCAA first round, but both teams are much different (and much better). I don't trust Florida's defense; Jimmer may score 30 -- the goal will be to make him take 25 shots to get there. Then again, Florida has two NBA-quality post players (Macklin, a fringe NBA player, and Young, a Lottery pick in 2012), plus senior Alex Tyus. That doesn't even count SEC player of the year Chandler Parsons, NCAA first-weekend hero Erving Walker or hobbled scorer Kenny Boynton. I'm picking BYU because I actually think they will win and because if I pick Florida, I can almost assure myself the Gators will lose.
9:45 CBS: (1) Duke vs. (5) Arizona. Derrick Williams is the best player Duke has seen all season. Then again, Nolan Smith (and, arguably, Kyrie Irving) is the best player Arizona has seen all season. Despite Duke's lackadaisical win over Michigan and Arizona's penchant for keeping themselves in games, I see a Duke rout, led by the Smith-Irving combo. You can have Ohio State and Kansas; I still feel very good about my pre-tourney pick of Duke to win it all. (Quickie Jinx Alert.)
9:57 TBS: (4) Wisconsin vs. (8) Butler. Oh, will this be a grinder. I don't know why I doubted Wisconsin in my original picks (damn you, Belmont). They are perhaps the toughest matchup for Butler in the entire field, because the way Wisconsin plays will never let the game get out of hand. This game will make last year's Duke-Butler final look like jackrabbits. I know better than to pick against Wisconsin at this point, but there's something about the way this Butler team is executing that makes me think my original pick to take them to the Elite Eight was right. Pick: Butler.
However it goes, it looks like four awesome match-ups tonight -- with a night that starts at 7-ish and goes all the way past midnight. Buckle up.
*Be sure to catch this great clip from the NFL capturing the entire 2010 season in 6 minutes. (Right up until you remember the league is ready to shut down the 2011 season, if necessary.)
*Knicks go under .500: I'll stick with what I said yesterday -- acquiring Carmelo was never about winning titles; it was about being relevant, which is the next best thing. Anyone who thought the Knicks would seriously contend for a title -- either now or any time in the next five-year window with Melo and Amare -- is delusional. On the plus side, the Knicks matter (which is really kind of all that matters).
*NIT: I guess it was too much to ask that Northwestern make the NIT Final Four.
Enjoy the games tonight. Quickish will be going straight through the day (with terrific preview recommendations) and into real-time updates throughout the night. Give it a try!