Sunday’s 2nd Round March Madness Free Picks – [2010]

(1) Syracuse vs. (8) Gonzaga, 12:10 ET
The Orange are playing in Buffalo, which means they’ll have lots of support. They easily took out Vermont, but get a much tougher team in Gonzaga, who withstood a late run from Florida State to advance. After what Northern Iowa did Saturday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Zags win this game outright, and while I still think ‘Cuse will hold on, this will likely be a game that’s decided within two possessions.
Pick: Gonzaga +7 **TOP PLAY**

(2) Ohio State vs. (10 Georgia Tech, 2:20 ET
The freshmen from Georgia Tech took out a talented Oklahoma State squad in round one, while OSU had a relatively easy time of it with UC Santa Barbara. This game will be a much tougher matchup for the Buckeyes, as Tech will have the bodies to score and rebound in the paint, meaning OSU will likely have to win this game from outside. Getting Lauderdale into foul trouble would be big for GT because the Buckeyes play a short bench, but Turner will be the difference in getting Ohio State to the Sweet 16.
Pick: Ohio State -6.5

(4) Maryland vs. (5) Michigan State, 2:30 ET
Two of the best coaches in the country – specifically at this time of year – go head-to-head in a game that’s being played one round too early. Maryland ran past Houston to reach the second round, while the Spartans got all they could handle from New Mexico State before outlasting the Aggies. The tempo of this game will determine the winner – close and low scoring favors the grind-it-out Big Ten bashers, while an up-and-down, run-and-gun contest heavily benefits the Terps. That makes it difficult to pick a winner, but a one point line is virtually a pick ‘em, so go with the favorite.
Pick: Maryland -1

(2) West Virginia vs. (10) Missouri, 2:40 ET
The Mountaineers crushed Morgan State in the first round, while Missouri looks poised to make another deep run after putting up 86 on Clemson. The Tigers will have to score with the same pace – and pick up the defense – in order to score a bigger upset in round two. Da’Sean Butler may very well be the most clutch player in the tournament, and I have more faith in him over anyone else in the last 10 seconds of a game. Thus, I’ll take West Virginia to win this game, but because of Missouri’s ability to score and score quickly, I’ll take them to cover in a one possession game.
Pick: West Virginia -6

(4) Wisconsin vs. (12) Cornell, 2:50 ET
As I said on Friday, Cornell was much more deserving of a 9 or 10 seed as opposed to the 12 they were given, and proved it by scoring bunches against a good defensive squad in Temple. Meanwhile Wisconsin became the latest to realize that the Southern Conference has always been much more than Stephen Curry and Davidson, getting everything they wanted from Wofford in a close four point win. If you like low scoring, good fundamental basketball, then this is the game for you. I just don’t see anyone opening a big enough lead to warrant a nearly five point line.
Pick: Cornell +4.5

(3) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Xavier, 4:50 ET
This is my favorite type of game – even odds. Pitt easily breezed past Oakland, while Xavier pulled away late from Minnesota. Both teams are balanced, with good guards and solid inside games. When it’s all said and done, though, Xavier has Jordan Crawford, the Indiana transfer that made a name for himself in the A-10 this season by hitting big shot after big shot. If it comes down to the wire, expect Xavier to feel much more confident about their go-to guy than Pittsburgh.
Pick: Xavier Even

(4) Purdue vs. (5) Texas A&M, 5:00 ET
A popular pick to be upset in the first round, the Boilermakers circled the proverbial wagons and dispatched of Siena. Up next for them is Texas A&M, who handled Utah State with relative ease in their first game. The Aggies are looking for a trip to Houston in the Sweet 16, a bit of extra motivation for a Big 12 sleeper. If Purdue wants to continue, they’ll likely have to pound the ball inside and play solid defense, because if it becomes a track meet, the loss of Robbie Hummell will prove too much for Purdue to overcome.
Pick: Texas A&M -1.5

(1) Duke vs. (8) California, 5:15 ET
I didn’t think California would beat Louisville – then again, I had Louisville beating Duke as well, so maybe I simply overestimated the Cardinals. The Blue Devils have been getting flak since the selection show for their easy bracket, and with St. Mary’s and Baylor through to the Sweet 16 in the bottom half of the bracket, it might be justified. But that doesn’t take away from the ability Duke has, and they should easily coast through the weak Pac-10 champs and head to Houston – possibly for a date with the nearby Aggies.
Pick: Duke -6