Speed picking the Sweet 16

Thursday March 26th, 2009

NCAA Tournament Speed Picks
At a loss for your bracket picks? SI.com's Andy Staples has quick picks for all the Sweet 16.
West Region
(1) UConn (5) PurdueThe Yahoo! report will reverberate in Storrs for months and possibly years, but it shouldn't affect the Huskies on the floor in Glendale. The Boilermakers will shove around Hasheem Thabeet inside, but they'll have trouble stopping A.J. Price and Jeff Adrien.
(2) Memphis(3) MissouriMissouri plays the kind of helter-skelter style that could disrupt Memphis freshman point guard Tyreke Evans. But if Evans doesn't flinch in the face of all that pressure, Memphis has the horses to advance. It wouldn't hurt if Roburt Sallie had another hot shooting day, either.
East Region
(1) Pittsburgh(4) XavierPitt was the pick anyway, but now that DeJuan Blair?s butt has allowed Sir Mix-a-lot's name to grace the pages of The New York Times, the Panthers have to be a stone-cold, mortal lock. As long as the officials allow Blair to wield that prodigious posterior properly, Pitt should advance.
(2) Duke(3) VillanovaIf the teams didn't wear different shades of blue, the players might get confused. The squads are incredibly similar. Neither has a dominant post player. Both have sweet shooters who can play either guard position (Duke's Jon Scheyer and Nova's Scottie Reynolds). Both have long, complete players who can play inside and out (Duke's Kyle Singler and Nova's Dante Cunningham). Nova's ferocious defense might be the difference.
South Region
(1) North Carolina(4) GonzagaIn recent days, the Zags have become the trendy upset pick among college hoops analysts. Those guys are overthinking things. Gonzaga barely got past Western Kentucky and guess what? The Tar Heels ain't the Hilltoppers. As long as North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson's toe holds up, the Tar Heels should win comfortably.
(2) Oklahoma(3) SyracuseThis might be the most fun matchup to watch this round. Syracuse post players Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku said they are excited to match up against Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's guards must find a way to stop Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf. This one could come down to the wire. If we're lucky, it'll go six overtimes.
Midwest Region
(1) Louisville(12) ArizonaOK, so Arizona isn't really a Cinderella, but it would be quite a story if this group and its interim coaching staff could make the Elite Eight. Unfortunately, Arizona's seven-man rotation probably will wear down against Louisville's pressure.
(2) Michigan State(3) KansasThe young Jayhawks have the talent to defend the national title, and they seem to get more confident with each passing game. Friday, they'll face a veteran-heavy Spartans team that pounded them, 75-62, on Jan. 10 in East Lansing. Since he started at Illinois in 2000, Kansas coach Bill Self is 16-4 in same-season rematches after losing the first meeting. Make it 16-5.

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