Thursday, March 25, 2004

"I did not interject myself into this tournament and never have."

That's a laugh. Billy Packer, especially as he gets older, totally sees himself as bigger than the game which has brought him fame and fortune. As opposed to Dick Vitale, who for all his loudmouthing completely gets that he takes a backseat to the kids on the courts, Packer seems to think, especially when doing color with Jim Nantz on CBS game broadcasts, that he's the star. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be watching, after I get home from the last dinner with the gang (*sniff*) - it's the Madness, baby!

Tonight, 1/4 of the Sweet 16 goes home. Here are the games and my picks.

East Rutherford
(2) Oklahoma State vs (3) Pittsburgh, 727pm: Pitt. It's time for Jamie Dixon's boys to ramp it up a notch. They didn't look particularly impressive in either of their first two tournament games. If they play the same way, OSU will roll - but I don't expect that to happen. This game could be an instant classic, but I give the Big East the edge over the Big 12 tonight. Pitt's my only remaining Final Four pick still Dancing, and I don't think they'll let me down.

(1) St. Joseph's vs (4) Wake Forest, 957pm: St. Joe's. This is the only region where the top 4 seeds advanced, and Wake did so on the back of their frosh stud Chris Paul. If he can penetrate SJU and make his shots, they've got a shot, but I think St. Joe's is just too damn good. Plus, frankly, they've got Jameer Nelson, and Wake doesn't. Now, in 2005? WF could be world-beaters.

(2) Connecticut vs (6) Vanderbilt, 710pm: UConn. These Huskies are firing on all cylinders just when you want a team to do so. If Okafor's hurting, he's not showing it. And Ben Gordon's not hurting a bit. Vandy's playing great ball right now, but lightning won't strike twice. You've gotta think that UConn's the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets in SA now that Kentucky and Stanford are watching at home.

(5) Syracuse vs (8) Alabama, 940pm: Syracuse. The toughest game of the night to pick, in my opinion. Last year's champs are playing energized, behind the superb tandem of Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara - but Alabama beat Stanford, and will have all the confidence they need coming in to this game. As long as 'Cuse can score, though, I think they'll just run down 'Bama over the course of 40 minutes; they can play that run-and-gun game.

And we've still got a pair of "Cinderella seeds" yet to play tomorrow night! I love this game.

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