(2)Kansas vs. (15)New Mexico State
Friday’s action starts off with Kansas taking on New Mexico State. There is no doubt that when it comes to tournament time that Kansas is a name that should feared by opponents. Kansas has five national championships to their name and they will be looking for number six. However, Kansas has been shaky leading up to March which some feel may hinder their chances at making a run at the title. New Mexico State on the other hand has not lost a matchup in their last 13 games. However, Kansas has had some time to rest and get healthy, as they have been waiting to prove the world what they can do. When it comes down to the buzzer, Kansas will win this game, but it may be closer then the 9.5 point spread dictates.
(10) Georgia vs. (7) Michigan State
When Tom Izzo is in the tournament it’s a tall task picking against him and his Spartans. Michigan State had a shaky end to the season and they were almost on the outside looking in at the tournament. The Spartans managed to regroup and make a deep run into the Big Ten Championship where they stumbled to Wisconsin in overtime. That run is what they needed to push them into the tournament. Georgia is getting the chance to play in the dance for the first time in four years. The Bulldogs have one-fifth year senior that knows what it feels like to play in the tournament. In this matchup experience is going to pay dividend, Izzo gets the win in the tournament for the ninth straight year.
Pick: Michigan State
(12) Wyoming vs. (5) Northern Iowa
The dreaded 12 vs. 5 matchup is where we see some of the largest upsets each year. Northern Iowa has the label of a mid-major team. However, they sure do not play like one. Most people haven’t had the opportunity to watch the 30-3 Panthers play, but as their record indicates they do not lose much. In fact in their conference tournament game against Northern Illinois they were down by 16 at halftime. They went on a 22-4 run and held on to control of the game. What will keep Wyoming in the game is the pace that it is played at. Both of these teams like to slow the pace, which will keep the score low. Should the Wyoming Cowboys be there near the end, it could be an upset special, as Dick Vitale would say.
Pick: Northern Iowa
(12) Buffalo vs. (5) West Virginia
Bobby Hurley has been a part of some truly amazing tournament teams. Hurley played for Duke and Coach K from 1989-1993 where he cut down the nets twice in 1991 and 1992. Hurley is now the man in charge running the Bulls of the University of Buffalo. This is the first time in school history that the Buffalo Bulls have made it to the tournament. Buffalo knows that they can play with anyone. When they played Kentucky earlier in the year the Bulls actually led at the half. West Virginia is no slouch though. Coach Huggins knows what it takes to win in March and he will get some assistance from the return of two of his starters. West Virginia has been banged up but when they take the court against the Bulls they should be at full force. Will it be enough to avoid the upset?