Today is March Madness Round 2, Day 2. We’ve been keeping a close eye on our brackets and staying in check with our GoodBookey bracketologist, Dr. Senkbeil. Below, he’s outlined today’s top games to watch, projected winners, stats, and more.
DR. SENKBEIL STATS:
- Straight picks: 34-6
LOUISVILLE (-3) vs. Michigan
Projected Winner: Michigan
A classic defense versus offense battle. Michigan survived their shootout with OK State, but now they get Louisville (24, 7, tempo 194). Louisville did not look good in the first round, but that was true for several teams. Michigan is most similar to UCLA but slightly better on defense and much slower tempo. Louisville is most similar to West Virginia who is already in the sweet 16. Slower tempo bothers Louisville, and Virginia beat them twice. Notre Dame is a fairly slow, offensive team–kinda like Michigan–and they also beat Louisville. Michigan is hot and I will ride the hot shooting at least one more game.
KANSAS (-8) VS. MICHIGAN STATE
Projected Winner: Kansas
Wow–Michigan State proved me wrong by blowing out Miami. They jumped 10 places in OE in one game! Is this young team suddenly coming together? Kansas (6,26, tempo 64) is a 1 seed for a reason, but they have played so many close games this year. Can Michigan State play that well again? I cannot pick the upset here even though Wisconsin did it today with similar odds. Michigan State to cover sounds better, but Kansas wins.
KENTUCKY (-4.5) vs. WICHITA STATE
Projected Winner: Wichita State
The number 5 and 6 overall teams in the kenpom rankings going at it in the second round due to a seeding mistake. In the Sagarin ratings this is number 5 against number 11. Wichita is good! This Kentucky team (14,9, tempo 16) plays faster than previous teams. Can Wichita handle the athleticism and pace and stay with these guys? They are motivated by revenge for Kentucky killing their dream season a few years ago. I would love to see Wichita shoot better than they did against Dayton and make this an entertaining game. It is a bit of a reach, but I want to bite on it. Kentucky has struggled against a few defensive teams. If Wichita can just play D and make their shots and stay in this game I think they can do it. If not, this looks silly and Kentucky easily covers.
NORTH CAROLINA (-10.5) vs. ARKANSAS
Projected Winner: UNC
Arkansas is outmatched here but instead of strategizing and figuring out how they can compete with UNC (5,22 tempo 53),they will play them straight up and try to outrun them. They tried to play Kentucky straight up and got killed twice. STUPID. I smell a blowout here for UNC.
Update- Berry has a gimpy ankle for UNC. It might not get as ugly, but UNC still wins.
OREGON (-5.5) vs. RHODE ISLAND
Projected Winner: Oregon
Oregon is not quite as efficient without Boucher, but still a very good team (16, 23, tempo 239). Iona did not offer much resistance since they do not play defense. Rhode Island improved five places in OE and DE in just one game by beating Creighton. They are a hot team right now, but I cannot see Oregon losing this game unless Rhode Island plays very well.
BAYLOR (-6.5) vs. USC
Projected Winner: USC
USC likes to come from behind, doing it twice so far. A glimpse at their schedule this year suggests that they tend to get in close games, win or lose. Down 12 against SMU, the Trojans switched to an extended 2-3 zone with matchup principles and that defense looked very good against an athletic SMU team that just crushed Cincinnati. It would work against anybody if they run it that well. They improved five places in DE in one game. Baylor (21, 10, tempo 331) looked spectacular in the first half of the season and has since cooled off some. They played a bad first half against NMSU in round 1. Tough to pick them to lose here and USC cannot have a 3rd straight come from behind win–could they? Yes, they could, and if they play that kind of zone again they will. YEP, or I will look stupid.
DUKE (-7.5) vs. SOUTH CAROLINA
Projected Winner: Duke
What got into offensively challenged South Carolina scoring 93 points?! They jumped 14 places in OE in 1 game! They still stink at number 138 but that stingy D is 3rd. Even if they shoot anomalously well again, can they beat Duke (9, 38)? NO. People who know me well know that I loathe Duke, but this is a very good team that battled through injuries including one to K. K is a great coach (difficult to write that but he is). Healthy Duke is a top 10 team. 7.5 seems awfully generous and this should be more like 15. I have jinxed a few other teams with overconfidence so haha Duke. I don’t even think that will help South Carolina.
UCLA (-4) vs. CINCINNATI
Projected Winner: UCLA
OOOOh this one is juicy! All offense and West Coast warriors style, UCLA gets in your face, Cincinnati. UCLA (2, 83, tempo 13) is really fun to watch but their defense has been atrocious this year. In the past five games they have really improved though and dropped from 1st in OE to second while improving from 145th in DE to 83rd. Much better balance! Have they played a nasty team like this that doesn’t like to be scored on and that guards you? Cincinnati has not played a team even close to this pace all year and might struggle to slow down UCLA. Conversely, UCLA has not played a slow defensive team like Cincinnati and they might get really frustrated. UCLA has more talent and it is hard to pick against them but I could see Cincinnati shutting them down enough to beat them. I will take Cinci on the cover but UCLA to win.
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