Saturday’s 2nd Round March Madness Picks

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UCLA (6) vs. Villanova (3), 1:05 ET: Both teams struggled in different ways Thursday night. UCLA led most of the way, but couldn’t put Virginia Commonwealth away as they squeaked by the Rams 65-64. Villanova trailed by 14 points in the 2nd half to 14th seed American University, but stormed back for an 80-67 win. The Bruins used a balanced attack to beat VCU. All 5 starters scored in double-digits led by Josh Shipp’s 16 points and 8 rebounds. ‘Nova got 50 of their 80 points from just two guys. Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham each had 25. I think the Wildcats got a wake-up call against American and will use the home court advantage to defeat the Bruins.
Pick: Villanova -2

Maryland (10) vs. Memphis (2), 3:20 ET: Memphis got a scare in their first round game against Cal State Northridge. The Matadors hung around all game until the last few minutes when Memphis pulled away for an 81-70 win. The Tigers were led by Roburt Sallie, who came off the bench to light up the scoreboard for 35 points on 10-15 three-point shooting. Maryland pulled off a mild upset Thursday by dominating California 84-71. They were led by Greivis Vasquez’s 27 points on 10-21 shooting. Just like Villanova, I believe Memphis got a wake-up call against CS Northridge and will roll in this game.
Pick: Memphis -9

Texas A&M (9) vs. Connecticut (1), 3:25 ET: Texas A&M got off to a very quick start on Thursday by hitting their first 10 shots and went on to beat BYU 79-66. Their defense smothered the Cougars offense, holding them to only 30% shooting. UCONN had an even easier time by blasting overmatched UT Chattanooga 103-47. It looks like UCONN head coach Jim Calhoun will be back on the sidelines today after sitting out due to dehydration. The Aggies have covered 11 of their last 14 while Connecticut has failed to cover 7 of their last 10. I expect the Aggies to hang around in this one.
Pick: Texas A&M +10

Purdue (5) vs. Washington (4), 5:40 ET: This is the best matchup of the day on paper. Big Ten Tournament Champs Purdue held off Northern Iowa on Thursday despite shooting only 41%. They only turned the ball over 10 times, however. Robbie Hummel only had 9 points, but grabbed a team high 10 boards. Washington was solid from start to finish, beating Mississippi State 71-58. Quincy Pondexter poured in 23 points while big man Jon Brockman grabbed 15 rebounds. I expect a physical game here with Brockman and the Huskies pulling it out.
Pick: Washington -1

Michigan (10) vs. Oklahoma (2), 5:40 ET: Michigan proved doubters wrong on Thursday by holding off 7th seed Clemson 62-59. The Wolverines where led by Manny Harris’ 23 points and held Clemson to 32% shooting including a dismal 5-22 from beyond the arc. The Sooners easily cruised to an 82-54 win over Morgan State. Potential MVP Blake Griffin was sensational despite getting body slammed by Morgan State’s Ameer Ali. Griffin had 28 points on 11-12 shooting and pulled down 13 rebounds. I’m still not a believer in Michigan so I’m taking the Sooners to win by double-digits.
Pick: Oklahoma -6.5

LSU (8) vs. North Carolina (1), 5:45 ET: Ty Lawson missed the first round game and its still up in the air whether he’ll play today. Carolina certainly didn’t need him Thursday as the buried Radford 101-58 behind Wayne Ellington’s 25 points on 11-16 shooting. LSU had a lot tougher game with Butler. They couldn’t seem to put the Bulldogs away. Marcus Thornton had 30 points in LSU’s 75-71 hard fought win. The Tar Heels haven’t been as impressive of late failing to cover 7 of their last 10. Even if Lawson plays, he won’t be 100% and might be a bigger distraction if he does play. I’ll take LSU to keep it close.
Pick: LSU +11.5

Western Kentucky (12) vs. Gonzaga (4), 8:00 ET: A battle of mid-majors with tournament experience. Gonzaga is one of the hottest teams in the country and put away Akron in the first round after the Zips kept it close for the first 30 minutes. Western Kentucky pulled off a big upset of 5th seed Illinois 76-72. The Hilltoppers had a balanced attack with 5 guys in double figures. There are a lot of Zags fans in Portland this weekend, but I also heard a lot of support of the Hilltoppers. I can see a close game with Gonzaga pulling it out in the end.
Pick: Western Kentucky +11

Texas (7) vs. Duke (2), 8:05 ET: Texas surprised me on Thursday with how easily they handled Minnesota. A.J. Abrams was on fire. He poured in 26 points and hit 8-15 three-pointers in the Longhorns 76-62 win. Duke had an easy time with Binghamton, beating them 86-62 behind a balanced scoring attack. The Blue Devils live and die with the 3. Texas needs to shut that down in order to stay close. I believe they will.
Pick: Texas +7.5

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