at Raleigh, NC
No. 1 Duke (27-5) vs. No. 16 Alabama State (16-14): Game time 5:10
This game needs little commentary. Alabama State, at 16-14, has lost more games this season than Duke has lost in the last four years. The Blue Devils will have no problems with the Jaguars and should be able to rest its starters for Saturday's showdown with Seton Hall or Arizona.
Doug's Pick: Duke
No. 8 Seton Hall (20-9)vs. No. 9 Arizona (20-9): Game time 7:40
The scouting report suggests this will be a game determined by tempo. If the Pirates can slow it down and take good shots, Arizona will have a tough time. On the other hand, if the Wildcats get this into an up-and-down game Seton Hall will go home early. Arizona must stay out of foul trouble, keep the Pirates from capitalizing on second chance opportunities off the glass, get some transition baskets from turnovers and hit its three-pointer. Salim Stoudamire, who suffered from a left wrist injury in LA, is a key at both ends of the court.
Doug's Pick: Arizona
No. 3 Texas (23-7) vs. No. 14 Princeton (20-7): Game time 5:20
The Tigers (20-7) and Longhorns (23-7) are familiar with each other. In fact they've played three times over the last six years. The last time the two met (in December 2002 at the Erwin Center in Austin), the Longhorns escaped with a 57-54 win. If Princeton is to pull off the upset, they'll have to keep the game at a slow tempo and force Texas to take quick shots. I doubt that will happen. The Longhorns are much too talented.
Doug's Pick: Texas
No. 6 North Carolina (18-10) vs. No. 11 Air Force (22-6): Game time 7:50
To put both Air Force and Princeton at the same first round venue is almost criminal. The fans deserve better. If the fans can stay awake through the Texas/Princeton game, this one should put them in la-la-land. All of the TV analysts have the Tar Heels penciled into the next round, but this is not a lock. Air Force, much like Princeton teams of the past, slows it down to a snails pace and values each possession. UNC, on the other hand, has been plagued by impatience at times and if the Tar Heels aren't careful they'll be going home early. Two other factors are the altitude and the home court atmosphere of playing in Denver, just a stones throw from the Falcons home in Colorado Springs.
Doug's Pick: Air Force
at Seattle, Wash.
No. 8 Alabama (17-12) vs. No. 9 Southern Illinois (25-4): Game time 12:40
Alabama has played the toughest schedule in all of college basketball and these two teams have never met, but the Salukis with 6-9 forward Brad Korn are no patsy. Korn is a tough match up. He can hit the three-pointer and he has great ball skills for a big man. 6-3 guard Darren Brooks (16.2 ppg) leads the Salukis in scoring and he's also a great defender. Alabama has its work cut out if they want to advance to play Stanford on Saturday.
Doug's Pick: Southern Illinois
No. 1 Stanford (29-1) vs. No. 16 Texas-San Antonio (19-13) : Game time 3:10
UT-SA is clearly overmatched in this contest. The Cardinal has firepower that allows them to score from all five positions on the court and a frontline that should dominate in the paint and on the glass.
Doug's Pick: Stanford
at Buffalo, NY.
No. 2 UConn (27-6) vs. No. 15 Vermont (22-8): Game time 5:10
On paper, this looks like a cakewalk for the Huskies. In reality, Vermont will give UConn some problems. 6-9 forward Taylor Coppenrath sat out seven games with a broken wrist but came back to score 42 points in the Catamounts America East championship game. Coppenrath lead the Catamounts in scoring (24.7) and rebounding (7.4). UConn has been hit recently with injuries to its leading scorer and rebounder, center Omeka Okafor, who has been plagued by lower back spasms. To compound the problems, 6-9 forward Charlie Villanueva has been suffering from a high ankle sprain that's limited his mobility. It probably won't happen, but if Coppenrath has a big game UConn is in trouble. However, I do think the game will be closer than expected
Doug's Pick: UConn
No. 7 DePaul (21-9) vs. No. 10 Dayton (24-8): Game time 7:40
DePaul and Dayton are old rivals and have met 66 times with the Flyers winning 35. The Demon Deacons have not won a NCAA Tournament game since it beat Memphis 66-63 in 1989. Dayton is led by senior point guard Ramod Marshall (14.5 ppg). Keith Waleskowski chips in 13.4 ppg and and leads the Flyers in rebounding (9.4). Sean Finn adds 13 ppg to the Flyers balanced scoring. DePaul must control the defensive glass and not allow the Flyers second chance opportunities. If Waleskowski has a big game for Dayton it could be a long night for DePaul. This game is really too close to call.
Doug's Pick: DePaul
No. 5 Syracuse (21-7) vs. No. 12 BYU (21-8): Game time 1:15
Rafael Araujo, a 6-11 inside player, leads BYU in scoring (18.2) ppg and rebounding (10). The Cougars are a senior dominated team and capable of pulling off the upset. Since the departure of Carmelo Anthony to the NBA, Syracuse struggled to find a go-to guy, then realized it could be successful by sharing the scoring load. Hakim Warrick (19.6), Gerry McNamara (16.2) and Billy Edelin (13.8) have kept the Orangemen in most every game. BYU is maturer, but Syracuse is more talented.
Doug's Pick: Syracuse
No. 4 Maryland (19-11) vs. No. 13 UTEP (24-7): Game time 3:45
The Miners use a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging double figures and led by Omar Thomas (15.8). However, if there is a team on a roll it's Maryland. The Terps are coming off a huge win over Duke in the ACC Championship game and I don't see any signs of a let down.
Doug's Pick: Maryland
ST. LOUIS REGION
at Seattle, Wash.
No. 7 Michigan State (18-11) vs. No. 10 Nevada (23-8): Game time 5:25
The Wolf Pack and Spartans have never met and Nevada is 0-8 lifetime against Big Ten opponents. However, Nevada was 5-3 against teams in this year's tournament, including an 75-61 win over Kansas in the Dodge Holiday Classic. 6-6 two-guard Kirk Snyder controls the offense and leads the Wolf Pack in scoring (18.7) and is second in rebounding and assists. Michigan State survived a brutal non-conference schedule, losing to Kansas, Oklahoma, Syracuse and Kentucky before getting back on track during the Big Ten Conference race. The Spartans were 10-3 over the final 13 games. For the Spartans to win, Kelvin Torbert and Alan Anderson must play well on both ends, shutting down Snyder and helping Paul Davis on the glass.
Doug's Pick: Michigan State
No. 2 Gonzaga (27-2) vs. No. 15 Valparaiso (18-12): Game time 8:05
Gonzaga and Valpo have never faced each other and the Crusaders might wish they didn't have to face the Bulldogs in Seattle. Gonzaga has one of the nations best point guards in Blake Stepp, who shoots the ball well from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs also have a dominating front line. It should not be close.
Doug's Pick; Gonzaga
EAST RUTHERFORD REGION
at Buffalo, NY
No. 8 Texas Tech (22-10) vs. No. 9 UNC-Charlotte (21-8): Game time 10:25 am
The Niners and Red Raiders actually match up pretty well with each other, but that might favor Texas Tech. Charlotte is athletic but Bobby Knight's motion offense and the patience his teams show on the offensive end can create problems for athletic teams. Tech has had its share of problems with bigger teams, but Charlotte is not that big.
Doug's Pick: Texas Tech
No. 1 St. Joseph's (27-1) vs. No. 16 Liberty (18-14): Game time 12:55
St. Joseph's won its first 27 games before losing to Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Hawks have two great guards, Jameer Nelson at the point and Delonte West, who control the action and carry the team. Together they average 39 points per game. Gabe Martin has been a force for Liberty in the middle, averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds per game. However, if the Flames are going to be the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 they'll have stop Nelson and West from doing too much damage from the perimeter.
Doug's Pick: St. Joseph's
at Raleigh, NC
No. 5 Florida (20-10) vs. No. 12 Manhattan (24-5): Game time 10:30 am
This pairing has all the ear markings of an upset. Since its early one-point win over Arizona, Florida has been up and down all season. As Anthony Roberson goes so go the Gators. Roberson (17.8) leads the Gators in scoring and assists, but he also has 61 turnovers this season. Florida is usually more successful when small forward Matt Walsh and forward David Lee share the scoring. The Jaspers dominated the MAAC and played Syracuse to a three-point game at the Carrier Dome. Luis Flores (24.1 ppg) has provided Manhattan with some high-powered offense and leads the Jaspers in scoring and steals.
Doug's Pick: Florida
No. 4 Wake Forest (19-9) vs. No. 13 Virginia Commonwealth (23-7): Game time 12:50
Wake has victories over Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Georgia Tech so there's no doubt that the Demon Deacons can play with anyone in the country. VCU is led by 6-1 guard Domonic Jones (16.1 ppg). Jones is hitting 41 percent of the three-point attempts and if he gets hot the Rams have a chance.
Doug's Pick: Wake Forest