2009 NCAA Tournament Preview - East

Instead of just listing my NCAA Tournament picks as I've done every year, I've decided to preview every team in the Big Dance. I'll tell you why to love them, why to hate them, and how far they can go.

While college basketball isn't my forte, I've gotten six of the past eight Final Four correct. I didn't have much luck in the early rounds last year, but I did very well in 2007.

Ryan West, who runs the Bracketology thread in the fourms, will also list his thoughts on each squad. His picks will be listed below mine, so you have two references to guide you as you're filling out your bracket.

2009 NCAA Tournament Preview - East

  1. Pittsburgh (28-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Panthers have it all. They have the dominant big man (DeJuan Blair - 15.6 ppg, 12.4 rpg). They have the dynamic swingman (Sam Young - 18.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg). They have the prolific point guard (Levance Fields - 10.9 ppg, 7.6 apg). They have the three-point shooting (35.9 percent).

    Pittsburgh was 7-3 on the road this year. Only one of the losses was a strange one (Providence). They went down at Louisville and Villanova, but made up for it by going into Connecticut and coming out with an 8-point victory.

    WHY TO HATE: Pittsburgh violates Rule No. 3 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. The team has a dubious history of getting upset early in the Big Dance. In 2005, the Panthers lost in the first round to Pacific. In 2006, they lost in the second round as a No. 5 seed to No. 13 Bradley. A year later, Pittsburgh struggled against Virginia Commonwealth before losing to UCLA in the Sweet 16. Last season, the team went down to Michigan State in the second round.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Pitt is probably going to be the team that is most picked to win it all. Well, I'm not buying it. There is one thing I noticed about this Pittsburgh team. They don't have a consistent 3-point shooter. That is something you need when you are a tournament team. Everything else is good for them though. They don't rely heavily on free throws, they rebound well, and they take care of the basketball. They also have a very good senior point guard in Fields. This team is very physical, but no team has ever won the national championship losing their first game in their conference tournament.

    Outlook: Elite 8/Final Four

    THE VERDICT: While the Panthers are incredibly talented and can match up with anyone, they haven't been past the Sweet 16 since 1974. They have a history of choking, which would concern me if I were picking them to win it all. Good thing I'm not.

  2. Duke (28-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: Gerald Henderson has established himself as one of the top players in the country. He put up 12 consecutive double-digit performances to close out the regular season.

    As you would expect Coach K has his team battle-tested. Duke has beaten Xavier, Davidson and Wake Forest. The team is also 8-5 on the road.

    WHY TO HATE: If you pick this team to go deep into the tournament, you're going to have a heart attack. Duke doesn't shoot free throws well down the stretch. In one game against St. John's, the Blue Devils seemed to have missed eight free throws in the final minute.

    Kyle Singler (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Jon Scheyer (14.3 ppg) are both dynamic players, but they shoot a lot of threes for players who can't hit better than 37.5 percent from long distance.

    Duke hasn't fared well in the Big Dance in recent years. The team lost in the second round as a No. 2 seed last season. In 2007, they were upset by No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth in the first round. The year before, J.J. Redick couldn't get past LSU in the Sweet 16 despite being an overwhelming favorite. In 2005, Duke once again lost in the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This team looked so great at the beginning and has fallen off since. They play above average defense. They are experienced and have good guard play. The downfall is that they don't have a true point guard. If they play a team that has a very talented point guard, they could be in trouble. They are very athletic and cause matchup problems for other teams. They do rely too much on getting fouled and shoot a lot of free throws, but are a great free-throw shooting team. Coach K has changed his philosophy and uses his bench more and changes defenses. He doesn't have a true point guard though so he could run into problems if he faces a team with a solid one.

    Outlook: Upset Alert

    THE VERDICT: I don't trust the Blue Devils. Their shaky free-throw shooting scares me. Seriously, Scheyer should just rename himself "Aurora Snow" in the clutch. Their dubious recent history in the NCAA Tournament scares me even more. Don't be shocked if they get upset early.

  3. Villanova (26-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: It seems like Villanova has the whole package to make a deep run in the tournament. Dante Cunningham (16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is tough inside. Scottie Reynolds (15.7 ppg, 3.7 apg) is one of the better floor-generals in the tournament. And it seems like Corey Stokes (43.9 3PT) never misses from beyond the arc. Cunningham and Reynolds are upperclassmen.

    The Wildcats were 8-3 on the road this year, losing only at Connecticut, West Virginia and Marquette - all 22-plus-win teams. Jay Wright is a great coach who has a history of going deep in the tournament every year. Last year as a No. 12 seed, the Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16.

    WHY TO HATE: The Wildcats don't have great size, but that didn't hurt them against Pittsburgh. Besides, guard play wins in March.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This team has very good guard play. They are balanced and are very tested playing in the Big East. They are experienced, take care of the basketball, and do surprisingly well on the glass. The one thing that will hurt them is defending the three. They do not guard well on the perimeter, and if a team gets hot against them, they could be in serious trouble.

    Outlook: Sweet 16/Elite 8

    THE VERDICT: A sleeper team to make the Final Four. I don't think Villanova could knock off a North Carolina in a seven-game series, but this team can play with anyone.

  4. Xavier (25-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Xavier had some great victories this year. They beat Memphis and Missouri in November. They went into LSU and came away with a 10-point victory in late January. On March 5, they knocked off 25-6 Dayton by 17 points.

    There aren't many teams that shoot better from long distance than Xaiver. The Muskateers hit 39.6 percent of their threes. Believe it or not, Brad Redford drains 48.6 percent of his long-range shots. B.J. Raymond (40.8) and Derrick Brown (42.7) are also effective from deep.

    Xavier's top four scorers are all upperclassmen.

    WHY TO HATE: Xavier is an experienced squad - save for Dante Jackson, who plays the most important position on the court. Dante Jackson is only a sophomore.

    While the Musketeers have some impressive wins, they also have some shady losses. They somehow went down to Richmond, Charlotte and Duquesne.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Musketeers had a very good season. They have some experience in their lineup from last year's run. The problem I see is that their point guard is 6-5 and averages two turnovers a game. Xavier turns the ball over more than their opponents do and go to the free throw line a lot less than their foes. The game they lost to Temple is a perfect example. They shot nine free throws, while Temple shot 22. They lost by two. If a team can take care of the ball against them, the Musketeers could be in trouble.

    Outlook: Upset Alert/2nd Round Exit.

    THE VERDICT: I like Xavier as a potential Cinderella. As they've proven over the season, the X-Men can knock off anyone with their dynamic outside shooting.

  5. Florida State (24-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: Toney Douglas is one of the more dynamic guards in the country. Douglas averaged 20.8 ppg this year, and as a senior, you know he's capable of winning a couple of games in the NCAA Tournament. Though Florida State was a combined 0-3 against Duke and North Carolina in the regular season, it was competitive in all three of those games, losing by margins of 3, 3 and 8.

    The Seminoles block tons of shots. They held Tyler Hansborough to eight points in their regular season battle against North Carolina.

    WHY TO HATE: Florida State's a one-man band. Excluding Douglas, no other player averaged more than nine points per game. Teams with only one dynamic scorer seldom fare well in March.

    Given that Douglas is the only consistent option, it should be no surprise that the Seminoles have problems scoring sometimes. They averaged 68.6 points per game during the regular season.

    Florida State violates Rule No. 6 of my NCAA Tournament Credo, the One-Man Nightmare. They're also close to breaching Rule No. 5, which is going against teams that average 68 ppg.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Seminoles have a point guard who could be the best in the nation in Douglas. Their offense runs through him. If someone can shut him down, Florida State is going to lose. Problem is, no one has shut him down. The Seminoles have spurts on offense where they don't play well and despite being the second-tallest team in the nation, they get out-rebounded. Florida State has played elite teams very tough down the stretch. Making a run in the ACC Tournament is going to make this team being picked a lot in brackets. I'm not buying it.

    Outlook: Upset Alert

    THE VERDICT: I'll be surprised if Florida State makes it to the Sweet 16. They could be one-and-done.

  6. UCLA (25-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: You have to love talented senior point guards in the NCAA Tournament. Darren Collison (14.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.0 apg) is one of the better floor generals in the country.

    UCLA hits an amazing 40.7 percent from long range. Collison (41.9 3PT), senior swingman Josh Shipp (44.1), junior forward Nikola Dragovic (38.7) and especially Michael Roll (53.3!) are all deadly from beyond.

    WHY TO HATE: Collins is a very good point guard, but the Bruins don't have a dominant inside scorer like they had last year in Kevin Love.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The last couple of years I have picked the Bruins to make it to the Final Four. This year they could do it again, but it is not very likely. This team has all the makings of going deep: ball protection, experience, rebounding, defense and efficiency. They also shoot 39 percent from three. The Bruins have made their path tough, but with the right matchups, they could make a run.

    Outlook: Sweet 16/Elite 8/Final Four

    THE VERDICT: The Bruins could be in the mix in the second weekend. I don't know if they have the horses to make a fourth consecutive Final Four appearance, but I certainly wouldn't count them out.

  7. Texas (22-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: A.J. Abrams is a dynamic player who led the team with 16.7 ppg and 38.9 3PT. He's complemented well by swing man Damion James (15.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Texas started 9-1. Since Dec. 20, the team is just 11-9, losing inexplicably to Arkansas and Nebraska.

    An even more dubious record is Texas' road mark. The Longhorns were just 4-6 as visitors, violating Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. By the way, the four victories were against Wisconsin (19-11), Baylor (18-13), Texas Tech (14-18) and Colorado (9-22).

    The Longhorns clearly didn't make the transition to the new three-point line; excluding Abrams, no Texas player shoots the three well. As a team. they're just 31 percent from long range.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Abrams is amazing; don't get me wrong. I just don't think this Texas team is made to make a run. They have won four road games this year, two of which were against teams below .500. This team does use a deep bench and rebounds well. If they can take care of the ball and find some swagger, they could be a sleeper pick.

    Outlook: 2nd Round Exit/Sweet 16

    THE VERDICT: The Longhorns are a flawed squad that can't win on the road. Teams of that nature seldom fare well in the NCAA Tournament.

  8. Oklahoma State (22-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: Oklahoma State is definitely not offensively challenged like many of the Big Ten teams in this tournament. The Cowboys averaged 81.1 ppg, and four players scored more than 12.5 ppg.

    The four aforementioned players are all guards, and only one is an underclassman. However, that underclassman is the best of the bunch - that would be 6-6 sophomore James Anderson (18.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg).

    The Cowboys nail their threes. Anderson (41.0 3PT), Obi Muonelo (40.1), Keiton Page (40.7) and Terrel Harris (36.7) are all lethal from beyond.

    Entering the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma State has won eight of its previous 10 games.

    WHY TO HATE: The Cowboys are just 4-6 on the road, making them clear violators of Rule No. 4 of the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Oklahoma State is going to have trouble rebounding against the bigger teams in the tournament. Pittsburgh poses a problem in Round 2.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Depending on the matchup, Oklahoma State could struggle tremendously. They start four guards and a 6-6 forward. If a physical team just pounded it down low, there isn't much they could do. They do use their bench well though. This team leads the nation in 3-point field goals. They are the perfect example of "living and dying by the three."

    Outlook: 2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: Oklahoma State has the dynamic scoring and three-point shooting to make a run. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh stands in its path.

  9. Tennessee (21-12)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Vols definitely don't have a stagnant offense; they scored 78.5 ppg during the regular season. They're really deep and run a very fast tempo.

    WHY TO HATE: Tennessee has no seniors. While the top three scorers are all juniors, they're complemented by a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. This is a fairly young team.

    The Vols are horrendous from beyond the arc. As a whole, the team hit just 31 percent of its treys. Despite that fact, three players have shot more than 100 threes during the season, proving that their shot selection is really poor.

    This team was 6-5 on the road. While they won at Florida and South Carolina, they also suffered defeats at Ole Miss and Temple.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Vols were supposed to be really good this year. Well, that changed when they found out they didn't have a consistent three-point shooter. They have two very good players in Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism, but they do not have a go to guard. They thrive when forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets. When they don't do that and just throw up threes, they usually lose. They allow a lot of three-point attempts, so if a good shooting team sees them in the tournament, they could be in trouble. I see them maybe giving a No. 1 or 2 seed a tough time, but in the end losing.

    Outlook: 2nd round Exit/Cinderella Watch

    THE VERDICT: Tennessee has the raw talent to win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament, but it neither has the outside shooting nor experience to convince me that it can make a deep run.

  10. Minnesota (22-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Ralph Sampson III is on this team! And so is Iverson! (Colton Iverson. Ugh.)

    WHY TO HATE: I tried, but I couldn't find a single thing I liked about this team.

    They can't score. The Gophers scored 66.5 ppg. Only one player averaged in double digits, and just two players were above 6.6 ppg!

    Minnesota was just 4-6 on the road, so like many Big Ten squads, it violates Rule Nos. 4 and 5 in the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    The Gophers are inexperienced. The top two scorers are juniors, but the other players in the rotation are freshmen and sophomores.

    Minnesota can't hit threes either (32.7 3PT).

    RYAN'S TAKE: Congratulations to Tubby Smith. He has this team playing very well and he has made Minnesota basketball relevant. On the other hand, this team doesn't have a consistent scorer. In the tournament, you must have a guy you can go to in the clutch. They also turn the ball over a lot. They are a typical Big Ten team that is defense-first and struggles offensively. They do play a deep bench, but I don't see them winning a game.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: With all of these horrendous Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament, I'm convinced that the conference commissioner has naked pictures of that Mr. Sly character who appeared on CBS and ESPN on Sunday night. I'll be floored if the combination of Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State wins more than one game.

  11. Virginia Commonwealth (24-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: When Virginia Commonwealth knocked off Duke in the NCAA Tournament two years ago, Eric Maynor ran the point. Well, he's still there. As a senior now, Maynor averaged 22.4 ppg and 6.2 apg. He also hit 36.1 percent of his shots. He has the capability of willing the Rams to at least one victory in the Big Dance.

    In addition to Maynor, Joey Rodriguez (41.4 3PT percentage) and Bradford Burgess (42.2) also kill it from long range.

    WHY TO HATE: Save for Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth's top five scorers are all underclassmen. Perhaps that's why they lost at 7-25 UNC-Wilmington on Feb. 4.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This is another team I love. I think they could do some major damage to people's brackets. They have a lottery pick at point guard in Eric Maynor. Remember him? He eliminated Duke two years ago in the tournament. The knock against them is that they only have two consistent scorers, but I think when teams face VCU, they will focus too much on Maynor and he will find the open guys. VCU also has a guy who is a double-double machine in Larry Sanders. This team is for real.

    Outlook: Cinderella Watch/Sweet 16

    THE VERDICT: Maynor's great and the Rams have great three-point specialists, but they're really young. Unless they're playing a really flawed big-conference team in the first round, I can't see them advancing.

  12. Wisconsin (19-12)

    WHY TO LOVE: Wisconsin shoots well. Marcus Landry (39.7 3PT), Trevon Hughes (37.5), Jason Bohannon (36.9), Joe Krabbenhoft (36.7) and Tim Jarmusz (41.3) are all lethal from outside.

    Four of the Badgers' top five scorers are upperclassmen.

    WHY TO HATE: Like many teams in the vastly overrated Big Ten, Wisconsin is woefully flawed; the team violates Rule Nos. 4 and 5 in my NCAA Tournament Credo. It can't score (a laughable 64.4 ppg) or win on the road (4-7).

    RYAN'S TAKE: Just to prove that Digger Phelps has no idea what he is talking about and the fact that he hates the Big Ten (he coached at Notre Dame), here is a quote he said Sunday morning: "Wisconsin plays horrible defense." Really? Why do they only give up 59 points a game? They keep their opponents off the offensive glass and don't allow them to attempt many 3-point shots. If a team relies on 3-pointers, they are in trouble against Wisconsin. Bo Ryan has a balanced attack that is made up of a bunch of upperclassmen who play defense first. Problem is, Wisconsin a typical Big Ten school that doesn't win too many road games or score many points.

    Outlook: One and Done/2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: I think the NCAA Selection Committee may have been under the influence of heroin when they penciled Wisconsin into the NCAA Tournament. I really don't understand this. Forget Saint Mary's and Davidson; the real losers here are the poor fans who will fall asleep trying to watch this extremely boring and sloppy offense.

  13. Portland State (23-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: As Emmitt would say, "Don't underestimitize the Portland State." The Vikings went into Gonzaga and won. They also battled Washington tough, losing by just one point.

    Jeremiah Dominguez and Dominic Waters don't miss from beyond the arc. Dominguez hit 43.7 percent of his threes. But that's nothing because Waters drained 46.2 percent of his.

    Speaking of Dominguez, despite his 5-6, 150-pound frame, he's a very effective floor-general.

    WHY TO HATE: Losses against Idaho State, Montana State and Hampton are concerning.

    Portland State struggles to defend the three (36.2 percent).

    RYAN'S TAKE: After taking out one of my favorite Cinderella stories (Weber State), Portland State will be dancing. They have a very good senior point guard in Dominguez. He is only 5-6, but he plays much bigger than that. They shoot more threes and make more threes than any other team in the tournament. If they get hot, they could fun to watch.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: Portland State was debacled in its NCAA Tournament appearance last year. But that was against eventual champion Kansas. Now that every Viking is more experienced, this team has a great shot at pulling an upset, especially if Dominguez and Waters hit their threes.

  14. American (24-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: American has incredible guard play, led by seniors Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer. Carr averaged 17.6 ppg and 3.0 rpg, and shot 37.6 percent from beyond the arc. Mercer, meanwhile, is one of the fastest players in the nation; the point guard averaged 11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 4.4 apg. He hit 42.9 percent of his threes.

    Joining Carr and Mercer, Brian Gilmore (43.1 3PT) and Nick Hendra (38.2) are also outside threats.

    WHY TO HATE: American played three games against high majors. They lost to Oklahoma (83-54), Georgetown (73-49) and Maryland (67-51) by wide margins.

    The Eagles can be really stagnant on offense. They scored just 64.5 ppg, making them a clear violator of Rule No. 5 of the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    RYAN'S TAKE: What a great name for a basketball team. Anyway, I'm not feeling anything that American does will be able to upset a high seed. They have three guys who can score consistently, but they don't score a lot of points (62 ppg). They turn the ball over too much and don't shoot well from the free throw line. I wouldn't want to pick them to win if they were ever trailing in a game.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: Carr and Mercer form a great guard combo, but American's offense is just way too inconsistent. I'll be shocked if the Eagles win a game.

  15. Binghamton (23-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Leading Binghamton into its first ever NCAA Tournament is junior forward D.J. Rivera, who averaged 20.1 ppg and 6.6 rpg. Rivera is complemented by a duo of guards, both of whom are juniors. They scored more than 11.5 ppg per contest. As you can imagine, the Bearcats don't have trouble scoring (70.5 ppg).

    The Bearcats haven't lost since Jan. 28. They also won at Rutgers.

    WHY TO HATE: Second-leading scorer Dwayne Jackson has been suspended for violating team policies. Jackson was the team's only double-digit scoring senior.

    Not a great three-point shooting team (33.3 3PT). The only consistent long-range shooter is Emanuel Mayben (38.3).

    RYAN'S TAKE: Tony Kornheiser's Binghamton Bearcats are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. I don't think he could be any happier. This team has five scorers who make up about 85 percent of their scoring. With that statistic, it is pretty obvious they don't use much of their bench. They seem to push tempo and press, but go through scoring droughts. They struggle offensively and defensively, and I don't think they can win one game.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: Binghamton's pedestrian three-point shooting scares me. Tough draw against Duke.

  16. East Tennessee State (23-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: East Tennessee is led by two seniors and a junior. Point guard Courtney Pigram averaged 17.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 4.2 apg. Kevin Tiggs, a 6-4 forward, led the team in scoring with 21.5 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Mike Smith, a 6-6 guard, had 15.5 ppg and 7.7 rpg.

    Tiggs and Smith are solid three-point shooters; they hit 35.6 and 37.1 percent from long range, respectively.

    WHY TO HATE: The Buccaneers obviously have great guard play, but they lack size.

    The toughest team East Tennessee State battled all year is Temple, and they lost 79-65. They also lost to Hofstra, Bradley, Florida Gulf Coast, etc.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Bucs score a lot of points and are senior-led. They have shot more than 300 more free throws than their opponents, so they rely heavily on that. Unless they get a lot of calls, they won't be competitive.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: It wouldn't have surprised me to see East Tennessee State pull an upset in the first round if it were seeded 13 or higher. Unfortunately, Mr. Sly debacled their dreams.

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks - East

Walt's 2009 NCAA Tournament Picks:

#1 Pittsburgh over #16 East Tennessee State
Good news for DeJuan Blair - he'll be able to eat donuts on the bench throughout the entire second half.

#8 Oklahoma State over #9 Tennessee
Oklahoma State shoots a bunch of threes and makes them. Tennessee shoots a bunch of threes and misses them.

#5 Florida State over #12 Wisconsin
I'm not backing any of these Big Ten teams that can't score or win on the road. It'll be depressing if we have to watch them multiple times.

#4 Xavier over #13 Portland State
I actually think this matchup is more difficult for Xavier than whomever they'd have to play in Round 2. Portland State is a dangerous team, but I really like Xavier.

#6 UCLA over #11 VCU
Tough draw for VCU. UCLA can match the Rams when it comes to point guard play. The Bruins are usually a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

#3 Villanova over #14 American
I'm going out on a limb and speculating that Osama bin Laden doesn't have American University winning in his bracket.

#7 Texas over #10 Minnesota
And another Big Ten team bites the dust. Hopefully.

#2 Duke over #15 Binghamton
I'm tempted. I really am. Duke has sucked recently in the NCAA Tournament, and maybe Tony Kornheiser will add me as a friend on Facebook if I pick his Bearcats to win. Eh... maybe next year.

#1 Pittsburgh over #8 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State starts four guards. Pittsburgh has size. Tough matchup for the Cowboys.

#4 Xavier over #5 Florida State
Florida State had major problems defending the three in its loss against Duke. Well, Xavier nails threes like there's no tomorrow. The fact that the Seminoles have only one consistent scoring option would concern me if I picked them.

#3 Villanova over #6 UCLA
I really like this Villanova team; the fact that it gets to play two games at home only convinces me more than it can make a deep run.

#2 Duke over #7 Texas
Duke can be beaten, but Texas is a really flawed team. I don't see the Blue Devils going down here.

#4 Xavier over #1 Pittsburgh
Surprise! Pittsburgh hasn't been past the Sweet 16 since 1974, and I have that trend continuing. The Panthers tend to choke in the Big Dance. I've learned not to trust them the hard way.

#3 Villanova over #2 Duke
If Duke can't hit its threes, it won't beat the better teams in the NCAA Tournament. Also, the Blue Devils can't hit free throws in the clutch. Jon Scheyer inexplicably turns into Shaquille O'Neal.

#3 Villanova over #4 Xavier
Like I said, I love this Villanova team; the Wildcats seem to have all of the elements to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Ryan's 2009 NCAA Tournament Picks:

#1 Pittsburgh over #16 East Tennessee State
Pitt is by far the most physical team in the tournament. They will just completely out-muscle the Bucs. Pitt by 26.

#8 Oklahoma State over #9 Tennessee
Tennessee gives up a lot of 3-point shots and Oklahoma State has a four-guard lineup. Oklahoma State in a close one.

#12 Wisconsin over #5 Florida State
I hate picking this game. Florida State just got done playing three physically draining games. They turn the ball over too much for me and Wisconsin plays solid defense. I'll take the Badgers.

#4 Xavier over #13 Portland State
Xavier has some experience. Portland State has a very good point guard and that seems to be Xavier's weakness. Close game. Xavier by 2.

#6 UCLA over #11 VCU
Before this tournament started I picked a couple of sleepers. Well, the committee did me one wrong by putting two of mine together. I think UCLA will handle the Rams because Darren Collison can contain Eric Maynor. Bruins by 10.

#3 Villanova over #14 American
American just turns the ball over way too much and Nova has great guard play. Nova in a blowout.

#7 Texas over #10 Minnesota
The Gophers turn the ball over too much for my taste and I just don't think they will be able to stay competitive in this game. Texas by 14.

#2 Duke over #15 Binghamton
Tony Kornheiser has to be upset. Binghamton should have been a 13, or at worst, a 14 seed. They got a very tough draw in playing the Blue Devils. Duke in a blowout.

#1 Pittsburgh over #8 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State starts four guards. Pitt is one of the more physical teams in the country. Pitt steamrolls them.

#4 Xavier over #12 Wisconsin
Well, considering I didn't have a vote of confidence in the Badgers in the last game, I'm definitely taking Xavier in this game. Xavier is a lot more athletic than this team. Xavier by 9.

#6 UCLA over #3 Villanova
UCLA gets a tough draw by playing in Philadelphia vs. Villanova. I don't think it'll matter. UCLA gives them a tough draw and I think they shoot them out of the gym. UCLA by 15.

#2 Duke over #7 Texas
The Blue Devils are out to show everyone that they can win some tourney games. I think they use the first weekend to flex their muscles. Duke wins big.

#1 Pittsburgh over #4 Xavier
Levance Fields is the difference in this game. Fields will control the game and Pitt can run up and down on Xavier. Pitt by 11.

#6 UCLA over #2 Duke
In a classic matchup of two teams trying to prove points, I think UCLA steps up. Darren Collison and Jrue Holliday have to be the difference in the game for UCLA to win. I think that happens. UCLA by 4.

#1 Pitt over #6 UCLA
Pitt will not allow UCLA to get quick shots and this game could be a very low-scoring game. Pitt wins by a slim margin.

2009 NCAA Tournament - Other Brackets

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - Midwest Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - West Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - East Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - South Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - Final Four

2009 NCAA Tournament References

2009 NCAA Tournament - Stats, Facts, Trends and Tips

2009 NCAA Tournament Credo

College Basketball Picks

2009 NFL Mock Draft

2010 NFL Mock Draft

NBA Picks

2009 Fantasy Football Rankings Coming Soon

Missing Include


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