Louisville and Rick Pitino saved the day yesterday in their comeback victory over the Florida Gators, covering the +1.5 points in nail-biting fashion. Syracuse failed to cover as 3-point dogs, and the .500 picks continued. Although we incorrectly picked Syracuse against the spread yesterday, we did say Ohio State would win outright and the game would be won at the free throw line. The 29 fouls called on the Orange were the most its had in over three years. The Buckeyes went 31-42 from the line, while Syracuse went 20-25. Moving on.
Baylor vs Kentucky (-7.5) 1:20 p.m. CBS
Analysis: Six potential first-round picks in the 2012 NBA Draft , including the likely first overall pick in Anthony ‘Unibrow’ Davis, will battle for a trip to New Orleans. It is possible this game could turn into a track meet, but for Baylor to have a chance to win, they will need to slow the tempo, and force the ‘Cats into a half-court contest. No matter the style of play, Kentucky has the talent and ability to succeed at any pace.
Baylor coach Scott Drew, who is in his second Elite 8 in three years, will need huge games from his two sensational forwards — sophomore Perry Jones III (6’11, 235lbs) and senior Quincy Acy (6’7, 235lbs). Jones has been wildly inconsistent all year so it will be interesting to see which player will show up today — Dr. Jeckyll or Mr. Hyde.
Kentucky’s John Calipari just needs more of the same from his future NBA stars. The ‘Cats are averaging 90 points per game in the tournament and are shooting a sizzling 53% from the field. The only team with a better field goal percentage was Indiana, a team Kentucky blistered for 102 points on Friday, winning by 12. Oh by the way, Anthony Davis played only 25 minutes in the game after getting into early foul trouble. The “get Davis in foul trouble and Kentucky has problems” theory became a moot point.
Too much hair between the eyes, along with Michael Kidd-Gilcrist, Doron Lamb, Terrance Jones, Marquis Teague and Darius Miller will be too much to handle for the Baylor Bears. RGIII isn’t walking through that door.
Baylor will hang around, may even jump out to an early lead, but when the buzzer sounds around 3:3o p.m., Calipari’s squad will have their name highlighted in green on everyone’s red-infused brackets.
Prediction: Kentucky 84 Baylor 73
Final: Kentucky 82 Baylor 70 Winner
Kansas vs North Carolina (+2) 4:05 p.m. CBS
Analysis: Both teams limp into today’s game, one literally, one figuratively.
North Carolina will likely be without their injured point guard and assist machine Kendall Marshall. Marshall averaged 9.8 assists per game this season, and his absence leaves a glaring hole in Roy Williams’ lineup. See narrow overtime victory over Ohio on Friday. The Tar Heels electric offense has become not-so-charged, but they still have a talented trio of players in senior center Tyler Zeller (7’0, 250lbs), sophomore standout Harrison Barnes (6’8, 215lbs) and junior forward John Henson (6’11, 220lbs). Barnes will need to recover quickly from his abysmal performance in the Sweet 16 if he wants to meet the Buckeyes in Nola next week.
Kansas enters the game today having barely survived their last two games against Purdue and NC State. Junior forward Thomas Robinson (6’10, 237lbs), arguably the best player on either team, will have his name called early and often against the Heels, and if he doesn’t produce, neither will his team. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor (6’3, 185lbs) will need to produce as well in order to win. This isn’t Bill Self’s best team by far, but there is no question his guys can play defense.
Watch for UNC guard Reggie Bullock to knock down a late three to finally dispatch the Kansas Jayhawks.
Prediction: North Carolina 73 Kansas 70
Final: Kansas 80 North Carolina 67 Loser