Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Gotta admit that with all the "bracket-busting" upsets that the so-called experts out there were talkin' about, we didn't hear a single soul say they liked Harvard over New Mexico. Except my Network made it the top play Thursday night!
So, what do you know?
Maybe it took the NCAA Tournament's first full day to go into the wee hours of Friday morning (at least on the East Coast) for a major upset to go down but wasn't it worth waiting up for as Tommy Amaker's crew - expected to be good next year, not this year - stunned the hoops world with a 68-62 triumph over the #3 seed in the West and so those brackets look a little kooky while heading into this Round of 32.
We'll have a little something to say about all Eight (8) matchups on the NCAA Tournament menu for this next-to-last Saturday in March but first this quick-hitter reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers roars into the College Basketball post-season as we'll have NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT winners too all through the month of March and right into April plus there's plenty of NBA Winners when you sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winning selections. Note that the special check-in times are anytime after 11 a.m. ET for all the weekday afternoon games and then after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-through-Friday night action. Also, the winning selections are available after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Go ahead and sign up now for the NCAA Tournament and all the other post-season College Basketball Tournies!
Now, here's the roll call for Saturday's action in the NCAA Tourney ...
At Rupp Arena - Lexington, KY
#1 LOUISVILLE (30-5) vs. #8 COLORADO STATE (26-8) - There is legit reason to believe the U of L Cardinals will really have to break a sweat to get into this year's Sweet 16 (unlike the other night in that 79-48 laugher against North Carolina A&T) as that all-senior starting lineup for the C-State Rams is in an all-business state of mind. The Mountain West Conference crew not only hammered ole Mizzou 84-72 but Larry Eustachey's club crushed the Tigers on the boards by a silly 2-to-1 margin (36-to-18) and big man Colton Iverson (13 caroms against Missouri) could limit the 'Ville to one-and-done on many trips to the offensive end. Want a Louisville X-factor here? If red-hot key reserve Montrezl Harrell gets some put-back hoops here, than the Cards will be ultra-tough to beat.
At HP Pavilion - San Jose, CA
#4 SAINT LOUIS (28-6) vs. #12 OREGON (27-8) - The Oregon Ducks proved a major point to the NCAA Tournament Committee folks for putting 'em in as a #12 seed after winning last weekend's Pac-12 Tournament ... now what mind games can Dana Altman play on his troops here? The proud coach of the neon green Ducks knows Saint Louis plays a different version of 40 minutes of hell and let's just say if do-it-all guy Dwayne Evans (24 points and 6 rebounds in easy-as-pie 64-44 win against New Mexico State) is as productive on the offensive end than the story of the 2012-13 post-Rick Majerus Billikens will roll on.
At The Palace -- Auburn Hills, MI
#3 MICHIGAN STATE (26-8) vs. 6 MEMPHIS (31-4) - Simply put, Sparty head coach Tom Izzo has found his monster in the middle as bulky Derrick Nix filled up the stat sheet with 23 points and 15 boards in that oft-ugly 65-54 win/cover against Valpo (it could have been much closer if the Crusaders hit a bunny or two!) and so now Memphis must do its best to steer him out of the paint plus the Tigers need Nix to defend and get worn down. Expect Memphis PG Joe Jackson (14 points, 7 assists and 6 steals in hang-on-for-dear-life 54-52 triumph over Saint Mary's) to try to beat Keith Appling off the screens and draw cheap fouls on Nix and that M-State front-court.
At Energy Solutions Arena - Salt Lake City, UT
#1 GONZAGA (32-2) vs. #9 WICHITA STATE (27-8) - Okay, so ESPN's Dick Vitale was right about something as he said the monster wing jumper by the Zags' Kevin Pangos late was the single-biggest play in the 64-58 non-cover win against 22 ½-point pup Southern but we want to know if Mark Few's club can win this bang-about game if Player of the Year candidate Kelly Olynyk isn't able to post another fancy stat line (see 21 points and 10 boards) but remember Olynk had just four first-half points and Wichita State will do everything in its muscle-flexing power to hold him down early here. The Zags may have been fortunate to survive that Thursday tilt but if Wichita G Tekele Cotton locks down someone in Gonzaga's backcourt here than some other Shocker foe will be moved to tears!
#6 ARIZONA (26-7) vs. #14 HARVARD (20-9) - So, what does the Ivy League super-heroes have up their sleeve here? The commanding win against New Mexico proved a couple of things: They know how to ride a hot hand as G Laurent Rivard nailed five triples and they sure played better-than-advertised defense as Los Lobos finished the night shooting 21-of-56 from the field (that's 37.5 percent) with a slew of contested shots from in close. True, Arizona offers up another stiff test against an athletic crew that never was threatened en route to an 81-64 win/cover against 4 ½-point dog Belmont as the 'Cats won the boards 44-to-18 and G Mark Lyons registered 23 points and displayed a real cool. But is 'Zona too cool for this Ivy school? Hmmm.
At The Palace - Auburn Hills, MI
#4 MICHIGAN (27-7) vs. #5 VCU (27-8) - Okay, so maybe the "home-town" maize-and-blue guys are not quaking in their high tops just because they have to face a VCU Rams team that just won a game by 46 points but Michigan boss-man John Beilein should be reminding his oft-dysfunctional guys that it's a case of all hands on deck here. The Wolverines - who displayed major moxie in the second half of Thursday night's 71-56 win/cover against 12-point dog South Dakota State - shook off a scary injury to PG Trey Burke to survive-and-advance and nice job defending Nate Wolters (3-of-14 FGs) but the matching 21-point games by Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Glenn Robinson III won't be enough here if the aforementioned Burke doesn't step on it (see 2-of-12 FGs shooting in the Round II affair).
At HP Pavilion - San Jose, CA
#4 SYRACUSE (27-9) vs. #12 CALIFORNIA (21-11) - In case you were wondering, it's been 27 years since the 'Cuse posted a bigger backside whupping on an NCAA Tournament foe as Thursday's show-no-mercy 81-34 win against Montana hardly rates a sentence here in today's Round of 32 column but just the fact that Jim Boeheim's famed 2-3 zone defense held the Grizzlies to a grand total of 11 made field goals does deserve a mention. If the Orange have its sights set on anything special here, it's keeping Cal star Allen Crabbe (19 points and 9 rebounds in the 64-61 win against UNLV) on the silent side. Keep in mind this will be a pro-Cal crowd and so any scoring runs here will have the Berkeley bunch pumped but Syracuse should put a bigger body on Crabbe and than make someone else beat from deep. P.S., Cal attempted just 11 triples against UNLV and may have to pump up 20-or-more treys here to have a real upset shot.
At Rupp Arena - Lexington, KY
#3 MARQUETTE (24-8) vs. #6 BUTLER (27-8) - Don't know about you but we've already catalogued Marquette's come-from-behind 59-58 win against Davidson as "something special" in case this Big East team goes on a real prolonged run in this tourney. The Golden Birdies overcame a late-game 9-point deficit against Davidson but lost amidst the hoopla was the fact Buzz Williams' guys started off the game missing 10 of its first 11 FG tries - talk about a don't-give-up speech. If Butler big man Andrew Smith (14 points and 16 rebs in workmanlike 68-56 win against Bucknell) is a major force here, than even Marquette's key depth won't help and how about the fact the Bulldogs canned 18 of their final 20 free throws in the game's final four-plus minutes?
NOTE: More Round of 32 Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.