Doug's Sunday picks

Sunday's round two games are a potpouri of lopsidedness and close encounters. Some games appear to be mismatches, others are too close to call and yet some seem to actually favor the underdog lower seed.

Midwest Region (Nashville)
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Utah
The Utes beat Oregon by slowing the pace and shutting down Luke Ridnour. They'll have to play a very deliberate game against the Wildcats as weel. Utah also shot 29 percent from the field and didn't hit a field goal in the final 5:07 against Oregon. If they can't find the basketball more often in this contest, Kentucky can mail in their invitation to the Sweet Sixteen. Beating Oregon is one thing, but the Ducks are perimeter oriented and simply easier to defend than the Wildcats. Kentucky has many more weapons. Go with the Wildcats.

No. 2 Pitt vs. No. 7 Indiana
Pitt has used a balanced attack, played solid defense and ridden this far on the shoulders of Brandin Knight, the Panthers senior floor general. Indiana is also a gritty team. Tom Cloverdale score 23 points and willed the Hoosiers to victory over Alabama in round one. The Hoosiers also got 17 from Bracey Wright, but if they are to advance further they'll have to get a stronger contribution from the front line and off the bench. I don't think it's there. Pitt dances another day while the Hoosiers go home.

South Region (Birmingham)
No. 1 Texas vs.  No. 9 Purdue
The Boilermakers hammered a pretty good LSU team in the Tigers back yard to earn the right to face Texas, whereas the Longhorns coasted into round two. Texas is athletic and TJ Ford runs the offense with the precision of surgeon, using speed and quickness to slice up the defensive efforts of the opponent. James Thomas is a beast on the glass and Brian Boddicker, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Longhorns win over North Carolina Asheville, can play inside or step out and hit the three. But Brandon Mouton might the difference maker again in this game as he was in game one. In all, the Longhorns should overwhelm the Boilermakers and gain a place in field of Sixteen.

No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Maryland
Drew Nicholas' desparation shot at the buzzer breathed life into the Terps for another day. UNC Willimington should probably be here, but it saved them from the pasting Maryland will take from the Musketeers. Xavier has a lethal inside-outside attack and Maryland has no one who can match up with David West, Xavier's All-American center. West had 12 points in the Musketeers' win over Troy State and Marquee Sato added 18 along with 11 rebounds. The "dynamic can get it done. Take the Musketeers.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Both teams won easily on Friday. The Gators road Matt Bonner past Sam Houston State and the Spartans destroyed Colorado. Playing close to home is a huge advantage for the Gators and it should help relieve the freshman jitters of Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Michigan State has an experierce edge that could keep the game close, but the Gators are simply more talented. Go with the Gators.

East Region (Birmingham)
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 12 Butler
Luke Whitehead scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Cardinals past Austin Peay in round one, but it was Butler that gained my respect. It wasn't pretty, but the Bulldogs stayed patient and poised in their big win over Mississippi State. If coach Chad Motta can devise a similar game plan against the Cardinals, Butler can be successful. This is a game that can go either way and if I were a gambler I'd stay away from it. But I can't get away with that here so I'll go with Butler.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State
Carmello Anthony came alive down the stretch and the Orangemen pulled out a closer than expected win in round one. Anthony, who had 17 points in the Orangemen's 76-65 win over Manhattan,  is quite possibly the best player in college basketball. OSU is led by its guard tandem of Victor Williams, who had a career-high 29 points against Penn, and Tony Allen.  The combine for almost 30 points per outing. You can bet one or the other will be hot. Syracuse plays almost exclusively a 3-2 zone and matches up at times. The Cowboy like to run, but Eddie Sutton is known as a defensive strategist. Defense would win this game if it weren't for Anthony. Syracuse advances.

No.2 Wake Forest vs. No. 10 Auburn
Wake has struggled a little bit lately and barely got by No. 15 East Tennessee State in round one. The Deacons have ridden the coat tails of All-American Josh Howard to a 25 wins, but the Tigers have played a tougher schedule. Go with the Auburn.

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