Thursday provided plenty of action. Upsets, last second shots, JIMMER. Friday brings Gus Johnson and 16 more games.
11:15 AM, CBS: (4) Texas vs. (13) Oakland -> Texas might possess the most talented team in the tournament. However, people still question Rick Barnes in crunch time and rightly so. Oakland scheduled extremely difficult teams in the nonconference slate, so they won't be intimidated. Still, Texas knows well enough to take Oakland seriously. Longhorns pull away late.
11:40 AM, truTV: (8) Michigan vs. (9) Tennessee -> Bruce Pearl's swan song? Not today. The unnaturally tan coach from Knoxville gets at least one more game. Michigan will keep it close, but, like Texas, the Vols talent wins out.
12:40 PM, TBS: (2) Notre Dame vs. (15) Akron -> Akron's a nice little feel good story out of the MAC, but the Irish are just a solidly better team, with Abromaitis and Hansbrough having the shooting touch to get the Domers to the second round.
1:20 PM, TNT: (8) George Mason vs. (9) Villanova -> The two teams are headed in two different directions, though neither team won their conference. Villanova is a team that should feel lucky that they aren't seeded lower, given their late season swoon. That being said, experience in the backcourt will lead the Cats to victory.
1:45 PM, CBS: (5) Arizona vs. (12) Memphis-> Not picking Arizona here as much as I am picking against Memphis. They simply were not impressive when I saw them play UTEP (despite beating them) at the Conference USA tournament.
2:10 PM, truTV: (1) Duke vs. (16) Hampton-> Two reasons. 1. Kyrie Irving. 2. Never pick Hampton.
3:10 PM, TBS: (7) Texas A&M vs. (10) Florida State -> Always have liked Turgeon since his days at Wichita State, Florida State has been tough to read at times this year (and always, actually). I think they never really get going against the Ags and A&M sets up a date with the Irish in the second round.
3:40 PM, TNT: (1) Ohio State vs. (16) Texas-San Antonio -> The first half of the UTSA game against Alabama State made me think they could scare the Buckeyes. The second half brought me back to reality.
5:50 PM, TBS: (1) Kansas vs. (16) Boston U. -> Despite Bill Self having issues with B-schools in the first round, they simply are too talented and too well coached.
6:15 PM, CBS: (2) North Carolina vs. (15) Long Island -> Game won't be close enough to merit an Iowa State-Hampton mention. Harrison Barnes and the Heels roll.
6:20 PM, TNT: (3) Purdue vs. (14) St. Peter's -> Purdue has been slightly tough to read at the end of the year, losing to Michigan State (understandable) and Iowa (WTF). Still, experience and a strong guard court are as important as anything in the tournament, and the Boilers should steam their way to victory (see what I did there?)
6:27 PM, truTV: (6) Xavier vs. (11) Marquette -> As much as I like Atlantic 10 basketball come tourney time (I had both Richmond and Temple in the Sweet 16 this year), I feel like Xavier won't continue the run. As much as I can see them winning, I see Jimmy Butler having a big game and taking Marquette to the second round.
8:20 PM, TBS: (8) UNLV vs. (9) Illinois -> In part uno of the Illini Coaching Reunion Tour, Illinois faces former coach Lon Kruger and the Running Rebels. It won't be awkward for any of the Illini players or coaching staff, but it might be for Lon. That all being said, I'm pissed at Vegas for not saving me from hearing Ali Farokhmanesh again by letting the Panthers get away last year. Illinois, and big.
8:45 PM, CBS: (7) Washington vs. (10) Georgia -> I had to double check my bracket here to see who I picked. I honestly know nothing about either team. Even if they play on TV here, I'd rather watch Wisconsin, Penn State, Northwestern or Nebraska play than Washington or Georgia. I have no basis for this pick.
8:50 PM, TNT: (6) Georgetown vs. (11) Virginia Commonwealth -> I'd looooove to take Shaka Smart and the Rams here, but I think they shot their emotional wad in the First Four. I don't like how the First Four sets up for round of 64 upsets for those teams that have to play, so I'm going with the Hoyas until my conjured theory is broken.
8:57 PM, truTV: (3) Syracuse vs. (14) Indiana State -> My pick for feel good story of token white guys from basketball-tradition rich Indiana taking down a behemoth. When you're picking a bracket, you've gotta take one feel good story. You'll enjoy it even more when they get the upset. The Sycs have about a two week layoff, so they may start rusty, but by the time the Larry Bird montages start, expect the other ISU to get rolling.