The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament starts bright and early Thursday morning and if you haven't submitted your picks to the ATQ Tournament Challenge, please get going! You really have no excuse. It costs you nothing to get in and you get to have bragging rights over your fellow quack addicts. Trust me, you won't have any issues with NCAA Regulations orget fired from your head coaching job. That's just not what we're about. To get us all in the mood, I've thrown together some thoughts on some matchups that you MAY want to consider when filling our your own bracket. This won't be a comprehensive list of all the games, but just some key matchups you may want to consider when you are coming up with excuses for your boss why you are watching the games online in a completely free, unobtrusive way.
If you gamble using these picks and lose all of your money, don't blame me. I provide these for entertainment purposes only! Remember, there are dangers to filling brackets out.
5 Utah vs. 12 Arizona
Ah the dreaded 5 vs 12 matchup! History tells us that a lot of upsets happen in 5 vs 12 land. Utah comes in winners of the Mountain West Conference, winning some good games against Gonzaga and Washington State. Luke Nevill is a beast underneath, averaging almost a double-double, and the entire team is balanced. Arizona didn't end the season very well but they had a killer schedule to go through. We aren't far removed from the month stretch of an emotional win over Houston through wins against USC and UCLA. Nic Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill have all become unstoppable. Arizona matches up well in this game. Russ Pennell has said that he won't be getting the job to coach Arizona in the future so what do they have to lose? Take the wildcats in this game. WINNER: Arizona
7 Boston College vs. 10 USC
Another one of my upset specials, USC seems to have righted the ship coming into the end of the season by winning the Pac-10 championship, going through Cal, UCLA and Arizona State (all teams in the tournament). Taj Gibson is a man playing among boys and is a tough matchup for BC. The Trojans have 3 other guys besides Taj that are averaging in double figures in points. Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett, and freshman sensation DeMar DeRozan should all get their buckets. BC has played some great teams, but haven't always come out on the winning end. They split their games with Duke and lost both games to Wake Forest by double digits. DeRozen and Gibson should provide bad matchup problems for BC. Look for USC to pull the upset. Take the Trojans. WINNER: USC
7 California vs. 10 Maryland
I don't like this game for the Bears. I really don't know why. Both teams have some good wins and some really bad losses. Losing to Clemson in blowout fashion was not very good but Maryland has beaten Wake Forest and UNC this year and that makes them very dangerous. As for Cal, sometimes they look really good and sometimes they are just plain awful. I like Maryland's defense in this game and I think it shuts down the 3 point shooting from Cal. Take the Terrapins. WINNER: Maryland
5 Illinois vs. 12 Western Kentucky
Dangerous matchup for Illinois in the dreaded 5 vs 12 spot in the South Bracket. The Hilltoppers were the talk of the tournament last year when Western Kentucky beat heavily favored Drake at the buzzer. They have also beaten Louisville in Nashville this year 68-54 but that was WAY back in November. That seems like an eternity ago. WKU is has won 15 of their last 17 games, crushing the competition. That streak includes a win against Arizona State in the desert. Illinois has some good wins at the end of the season, beating Ohio State and Minnesota but don't forget about their 38-33 loss to Penn State. Just for that, I might never pick Illinois again. Take the Hilltoppers, if, for nothing else, they have the strangest mascot in the world. WINNER: Western Kentucky
Champion: North Carolina