It’s the most wonderful time of the year. March Madness is among us. Over the next couple of days TheCardinalConnect.com will breakdown and preview all four regions of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
#8 Colorado State vs. #9 Missouri: The 8 & 9 seed games are always one of toughest matchups to predict. Missouri has talent, but had a disappointing regular season to say the least. The Tigers couldn’t win on the road, but who knows how they’ll look on a neutral court. Larry Eustachy is in his first year at Colorado State and guided the rams to an impressive 25-8 record.
#7 Creighton vs. #10 Cincinnati: I realize it’s a little generic to pick the 7-seed vs. the 10-seed as one of the best match-ups, but I think this game will be closer than some expect. Cincinnati limped their way into the dance, but showed some promise in the Big East tournament. Creighton has been mentioned nationally quite a bit this season because of Doug McDermott, but after watching this team multiple times this year, I think Cincinnati can give them some trouble. We’ll see.
#13 New Mexico St. over #4 St. Louis: The Billikens appear to be the trendy sleeper pick. Many national analysts have picked St. Louis to knock off Louisville in the Sweet 16. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t make it past the first round. New Mexico State is well coached with Marvin Menzies and the Aggies have an RPI of 55. The Billikens have a very solid resume, but they’re beatable. New Mexico State has talent and can compete.
#12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State: The NCAA selection committee obviously doesn’t think much of the PAC 12. The Oregon Ducks won their conference tournament over the weekend and earned a 12-seed. Oklahoma State is one team I didn’t want to see in Louisville’s bracket. Travis Ford has a lot of talent, but he’s had trouble getting it done in the Big Dance in years past. If Oregon continues their hot shooting, they’ll pull the upset.
Players to Watch:
Sim Bhullar, New Mexico St., Center, 7-foot-5, 360-pounds: You read that correctly. The man is 7-foot-5 360-pounds. Bhullar is originally from Canada and had signed with Xavier, but didn’t academically qualify. His numbers (10.2 points & 6.8 rebounds) don’t jump off the charts, but he’s definitely a force in the middle.
Jonathan Lloyd, Oregon, Guard, 5-foot-8, 165-pounds: Oregon is very balanced offensively, but Lloyd played a huge role in the Ducks run to the Pac 12 championship. The little guy had 20-points in the title game and gives Oregon instant offense off of the bench.
Memphis: When you’re a five seed in the tournament, it’s strange to think of yourself as a sleeper, but that is exactly the case for Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. Winning Conference USA and going undefeated means nothing this year. The Tigers aren’t getting much respect and I can honestly understand why. They haven’t beaten anyone worth mentioning. However, talent certainly won’t be an issue. This team has been waiting for an opportunity to prove something since losing to Louisville in December. They were disappointing in the Battle 4 Atlantis and can make up for it with a surprise run to the Sweet 16.