I love the NCAA Tournament. It’s my favorite time of year. The underdog victories in early rounds and the yearly tradition of coming up with a creative excuse to call in sick to work on Thursday and Friday. It should be a national holiday.
Since Sunday, I’ve been filling out NCAA Tournament brackets, writing game previews and scouring sites for College Basketball odds. I had to wait a few hours for them since they weren’t immediately available after the Selection Show.
I have a ritual the first day of the tournament. I spend the first few hours at home watching the first two sets of games (probably still in my pajamas). I then make it to a Buffalo Wild Wings or BBQ rib joint and watch the next set. I then close out the night back at home drinking a six-pack of good IPAs.
I pick all the NCAA Tournament first (second?) round games against the spread. Can Harvard pull off the upset against Cincinnati?
Dayton vs Ohio State (-6) – My pick is Dayton Flyers
Dayton may not pull off the upset, but I think they keep this game close. Dayton sees Ohio State has big brother and they’ll be ready to play. Look for OSU transfer Jordan Sibert to have a big game for Dayton.
American vs Wisconsin (-14) – My pick is Wisconsin Badgers
This Wisconsin team the most offensive-minded squad Bo Ryan has put together. Actually, a 14-point spread seems a bit low. I think they cover this easily.
Pittsburgh vs Colorado (+6) – My pick is Pittsburgh Panthers
I love the Panthers in this contest. They are playing really well right now. Colorado was a bubble team and I think SMU should have taken their spot in the tourney.
Harvard vs Cincinnati (-3) – My pick is Harvard Crimson
I actually picked Harvard to upset Cincinnati in my game preview. Harvard is talented and doesn’t get respect coming from the Ivy League. Cincinnati will have their hands full with these smart guys.
Western Michigan vs Syracuse (-12.5) – My pick is Syracuse Orange
I know Syracuse hit a wall at the end of the season, but WMU isn’t in the same class. Jim Boeheim will have Syracuse ready for their first game in the tournament.
BYU vs Oregon (-6) – My pick is BYU Cougars
The last time these two teams played, Oregon had to come back and win in overtime. This game will be one of the highest-scoring games in the entire tournament. BYU’s Tyler Haws will have a breakout game. He is this year’s Jimmer Fredette.
Delaware vs Michigan State (-14.5) – My pick is Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is healthy and will have this game in hand in the first ten minutes. MSU’s Gary Harris is a tournament MOP candidate.
St. Joseph’s vs UConn (-4.5) – My pick is St. Joseph’s Hawks
I know UConn’s Shabazz Napier will be the best player on the court, but St Joe’s the better overall team. They are efficient and will keep the game close. If UConn does manager to win, it will be by less than four points. I actually like St. Joseph’s to pull off the upset.
Wofford vs Michigan (-16) – My pick is Michigan Wolverines
Michigan made it to the National Championship game last year. They come in with a lot of tournament experience. Wofford doesn’t have anyone to stop UM’s Nik Stauskas.
North Dakota State vs Oklahoma (-3.5) – My pick is Oklahoma Sooners
I know North Dakota is a popular upset pick, but I’ve watched a couple Summit League games this year. NDSU’s Taylor Braun is a playmaker, but OU’s backcourt of Cameron Clark and Buddy Hield can score in bunches. The Sooners are just more athletic and will force NDSU to play uncharacteristically and put up bad shots.
New Mexico State vs San Diego State (-7) – My pick is San Diego State Aztecs
SDSU is one of the better defensive teams in the entire tournament. I know NMSU has 7’5 center Sim Bhullar, but he’s not conditioned to play more than 30 minutes. They’ll have plenty of time to stretch out a double-digit lead.
Mercer vs Duke (-13) – My pick is Duke Blue Devils
Mercer does have a starting-five that can all score, but Duke has Jabari Parker. I think you’ll see the best out of him in this tournament. This will obviously be his only NCAA Tournament and will play out of his mind. I know 13 points is a high point spread, but very doable in the first (second) round.
Nebraska va Baylor (-3.5) – My pick is Nebraska Cornhuskers
This is the hardest game to handicap. I think both teams are seeded too high and have glaring flaws. I think Baylor will win this game, but in the last dozen games, Nebraska has kept games very close.
Stanford vs New Mexico (-3) – My pick is New Mexico Lobos
I love New Mexico in this game. They are very underrated and could even make it to the second weekend if they play at the same level they played in the Mountain West conference tournament.
Weber State vs Arizona (-20) – My pick is Arizona Wildcats
Two of my favorite NCAA Tournament upsets were done by Weber State. They defeated Michigan State and North Carolina in the 90’s. They haven’t had any success since then and Arizona should cover the point spread by halftime.
UL Lafayette vs Creighton (-14) – My pick is Creighton Bluejays
UL Lafayette barely squeaked into the tournament with a last second shot in their conference tournament. Creighton is too good not to cover this point spread. I love Doug McDermott a lot. It’s guys like him that led me to make this blog.
Eastern Kentucky vs Kansas (-15) – My pick is Kansas Jayhawks
I know Kansas will be without Joel Embiid, but Andrew Wiggins is on a roll. Kansas will not have a problem with this point spread.
Oklahoma State vs Gonzaga (+2) – My pick is Oklahoma State Cowboys
I was surprised by this point spread. It’s rare that the lower seed is actually favored in the point spread. OSU’s Marcus Smart will lead the Cowboys to the win and cover the spread.
George Washington vs Memphis (-3) – My pick is Memphis Tigers
I love Memphis in this game. I actually don’t think George Washington’s résumé is NCAA Tournament-worthy. Memphis actually played high-level talent this year from their inclusion in the American Athletic Conference. It will help them in this year’s tournament.
Providence vs North Carolina (-4) – My pick is North Carolina Tar Heels
Providence is a popular upset pick, but I don’t see it. North Carolina is stacked with talent and Providence’s record is inflated from playing in the below-average Big East Conference.
Stephen F. Austin vs VCU (-6) – My pick is Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
I’m officially on the SFU bandwagon! I know VCU head coach Shaka Smart knows what to do in the NCAA Tournament, but this is the year he fails to wear Cinderella’s slipper. That slipper will be worn by the Lumberjacks…and I realize that is a weird statement.
Coastal Carolina vs Virginia (-21) – My pick is Virginia Cavaliers
UVA hasn’t been ranked this high since Ralph Sampson was in uniform. They’ve beaten Duke, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the last two weeks. I know 21-points is a large margin, but Coastal Carolina isn’t on the same level.
Kansas State vs Kentucky (-5) – My pick is Kentucky Wildcats
UK’s roster is filled with future NBA stars, but they haven’t developed as fast as anticipated. Kansas State is a good team, but Kentucky has at last one win in them. They will rely heavily on Julius Randle and James Young to cover the point spread.
NC Central vs Iowa State (-9) – My pick is Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State will not have any issues covering a nine point spread. I love ISU’s Melvin Ejim and could push them deep into this tournament by himself.
Tulsa vs UCLA (-9.5) – My pick is UCLA Bruins
I know UCLA head coach Steve Alford doesn’t have a stunning record in the NCAA Tournament, but he’s never had this much talent on a previous team. UCLA’s Jordan Adams is an elite scorer and Kyle Anderson is one of the better rebounders in the country. I know Tulsa is a sleeper team, but the Bruins should win by low double-digits. The point spread will be close, but I have faith they cover.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.