Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day Two recap and second round predictions

The second day of the NCAA tournament brought our biggest upset and several more near misses. It's clear after the first round that the gap between the top teams and the lowest seeds in this event continues to narrow. While all four No. 1 seeds survived, the day is closer when a No. 16 will finally pull the upset in the first round.

A quick Day Two recap before we move on to second-round picks:

Hero of the Day: Jermaine Wallace, Northwestern State. How can it be anyone else? He made the shot that kids dream about on the driveways and playgrounds of America. Honorable mention to Marcus Williams, UConn's point guard, for leading the Huskies back from the brink of an ignominious upset.

Goat of the Day: Shannon Brown, Michigan State. The junior scored five points on 2-for-11 shooting and fouled out. The Spartans were unusually listless for a tournament game and bowed to George Mason just a year after reaching the Final Four.

Game of the Day: Northwestern State's upset of Iowa. Not only did you have Wallace's shot, but Adam Haluska got off as good a shot as one can expect in five-tenths of a second to nearly steal it back for the Hawkeyes. The Demons also came back from 17 down in the final nine minutes.

Conference Roundup: The Big East made its statement on Friday, winning all five games. Top seeds Villanova and Connecticut struggled, but West Virginia and Pittsburgh were very impressive, and Georgetown recovered nicely in the second half to beat Northern Iowa. The Big Ten, on the other hand, dropped three of four games. Ohio State struggled but beat Davidson; Iowa blew the second-half lead; Michigan State never looked interested against Mason; and Wisconsin was blown out by Arizona. The mid-majors and low-majors also performed nicely -- Mason, Bradley and Bucknell got through to the second round.

Player to Watch: Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia. Here we go again. The Mountaineers must get past Northwestern State to set up a possible rematch with Texas, who beat them by one point in November. Pittsnogle dropped 18 on a tough Southern Illinois team.

Game to Watch: NC State-Texas. Penn stayed with the Longhorns the whole way, and the Wolfpack runs the same type of slowdown offense that appeared to frustrate Texas on Friday night. The game is in Dallas, which favors Texas, but the 'Horns will need to keep their poise.

The second round is often where the stars of the first two days fall back to earth. Cinderella teams can win a game, but the two-day turnaround to the second game often destroys a team that expended everything it had to pull a first-round upset. But usually one or two teams get through to the Sweet 16. Here are my predictions on who those will be:

Washington Regional
UConn over Kentucky
Illinois over Washington
George Mason over UNC
Wichita State over Tennessee
Comments: Somehow I think Jim Calhoun will get his team's attention, and they won't look past Kentucky the way the Huskies did against Albany. ... I'm going with the Illini's experience against an athletic Washington team that was very impressive in Round 1. ... George Mason, with Tony Skinn back, upsets the young Tar Heels, who barely survived Murray State. ... Obviously I'm still not sold on Tennessee -- I was expecting the Shockers to play Winthrop in this round.

Atlanta Regional
Duke over George Washington
LSU over Texas A&M
West Virginia over Northwestern State
Texas over NC State
Comments: Duke will handle the Colonials, but the road is looking tougher ahead for the Blue Devils. ... LSU-A&M features a great frontcourt matchup between Glen Davis and Joseph Jones and two solid point guards in Darrel Mitchell and Acie Law. ... West Virginia stops the Demons' Cinderella run. ... The Longhorns, as mentioned before, need to learn from what they did wrong against Penn to beat the Wolfpack.

Minneapolis Regional
Villanova over Arizona
BC over Montana
Florida over UW-Milwaukee
Ohio State over Georgetown
Comments: Villanova needs to wake up because Arizona played as well as any first-round team. ... BC might be primed for a long run after surviving Pacific. ... Florida and UWM play the same style but the Gators have better athletes. ... Ohio State and Georgetown looks like a game that could go to the wire.

Oakland Regional
Memphis over Bucknell
Pittsburgh over Bradley
Indiana over Gonzaga
UCLA over Alabama
Comments: The Bison and Braves see their terrific seasons end against formidable foes. ... IU-Gonzaga should be a track meet. Can Morrison and Batista stop Hoosiers' big man Marco Killingsworth? ... UCLA looked as good as any team in Round One.



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