Thursday's game/TV schedule
|South||(10) Stanford Cardinal vs. (11) Dayton Flyers||FedExForum
|715p||CBS||Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols|
|West||(2) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (6) Baylor Bears||Honda Center
|747p||TBS||Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager|
|South||(1) Florida Gators vs. (4) UCLA Bruins||FedExForum
|945p||CBS||Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols|
|West||(1) Arizona Wildcats vs. (4) San Diego State Aztecs||Honda Center
|1017p||TBS||Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager|
That's tonight's TV schedule, which obviously includes our own game at 6:47 Central (all times listed are Eastern). Our corresponding blogmates for that game are obviously Badger fans inhabiting Bucky's 5th Quarter. They've been here; we've been there; it's been a blast leading up to this game. Now I hope we destroy them.
#10 Stanford (-3) vs. #11 Dayton -- South Region
The other games tonight start with Stanford vs. Dayton at 6:15 Central on CBS. Why that game got CBS billing over ours is something I don't really understand, but I'm willing to bet it is related, at least in part, to the fact that one of those two teams will play either Florida or UCLA, and that's the later game on the same channel.
As far as I know, Dayton doesn't have a team blog on SB Nation. That's why only the Stanford blog, Rule of Tree, is represented at right. This game pits the lowest-ranked of the remaining teams by KenPom in #34 Stanford and #44 Dayton. Dayton knocked off Ohio State in the first round and Syracuse in the second to get here, while Stanford shocked #7 New Mexico and then beat a Joel Embiid-less #2 Kansas. Both have great underdog stories that everyone loves. Whoever wins tonight will probably get annihilated by Florida. But that won't be until Saturday. Tonight, I'm taking Stanford to cover. Worth noting that if Stanford wins this game and faces UCLA, that would be a rematch of a game UCLA won by 25 less than two weeks ago.
KenPom Prediction: Stanford 69, Dayton 67
#2 Wisconsin (-3) vs. #6 Baylor -- West Region
You already know how these teams got here: Wisconsin demolished #15 American and then came back against #7 Oregon while Baylor strangled #11 Nebraska and obliterated #3 Creighton. This game will be on TBS, and the Game Thread here will go up at 6:00 CST so you have time to get yourself situated. Baylor is a 3-point underdog (3.5 some places) and Wisconsin is really good. But I wouldn't be doing my job here (whatever that is) unless I took Baylor to cover and win, would I? Probably, but I'm going to do it, anyway.
You're already on ODB, so I didn't link it.
KenPom Prediction: Wisconsin 70, Baylor 68
#1 Florida (-4.5) vs. #4 UCLA -- South Region
This is #2 vs. #11 in KenPom's latest rankings, and I'm taking Florida all the way. I don't exactly know what it is about Florida that makes me so convinced they're going to get to the Final Four; there's just something about them. They're going to, though, and the next step starts tonight. I'm taking them to cover relatively easily since I just don't think UCLA can hang. It should be noted that Florida is one of the slowest teams remaining in the Tournament (#321 in adjusted tempo), so it may not be a blowout. Also, UCLA is probably good enough on offense (#12 in AdjO) to hang with the Gators. I just don't think it'll be enough to win the game, and Florida will eventually pull away on free throws.
This is the only matchup on the list where space is an issue with the buttons on the right (which I just love), so I'm putting in a few sentences here of nonsense to buy myself the space needed for the format to look right. I really do think Florida will win and is probably the best team in the Tournament, KenPom's rankings notwithstanding. And it's not like he disagrees with me by a lot; Arizona is #1 and Florida #2. If I had to decide on confidence points for these games, it would probably go Florida 4, Arizona 3, Stanford 2, and Baylor (sadly) 1. Baylor is the only underdog I'm choosing to win, though, so it's not like my relative lack of confidence there is somehow nonsensical.
KenPom Prediction: Florida 71, UCLA 66
#1 Arizona (-7) vs. #4 San Diego State -- West Region
This game is going to be a slugfest. Both Arizona and SDSU are slow offensively (#264 and #297 in AdjT, respectively) and excellent defensively (#1 and #7 in AdjD, respectively). It will be a miracle of either one makes it to 70 points. I'm taking Arizona to win but not cover, although Baylor fans should be rooting for San Diego State since they are probably not as good of a team. That's just talking about overall team strength, not the potential matchups.
I have to be honest: part of the reason I'm taking Arizona to win the game is that I think we win and then lose to them, setting them up to fulfill the prophecy and win the National Championship over Florida. I know I didn't pick that way in my brackets, but that's what is going to happen. I'm already starting my preparations for the 2016 Elite Eight where we'll lose to an eventual national champion from the B1G (which will be the only major conference other than the Big 12 that hasn't had someone beat us and then win the National Championship). I'm thinking Michigan or Michigan State at this point.
KenPom Prediction: Arizona 61, SDSU 56
So there you have my predictions for tonight's game. I'm taking 3 favorites (Stanford, Florida, and Arizona) and one underdog (Baylor) to win, and one underdog (San Diego State) to lose but cover. What do you think?