IT's Sweet 16 Forecast

‘Tis the time of year when flowers bloom, winds blow, round ball reigns and Tennessee fans begin to really miss football. Sorry we can't do anything to bring football back a second sooner, but we can expand our weekly pigskin picks to the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.

No need to stand and cheer, but you might get a kick out of seeing that — unless luck intercedes on our behalf — we can hang with the worst of them. Still we can't recommend using our picks as a reverse barometer, given the blind hog theory.

Tonight's picks pose a real challenge with three of the four games rated as virtual toss-ups. No need to strain our brains beyond cranial capacity, big head or not, before warming up with the Chicago regional where Wisconsin-Milwaukee enters as a 10-point underdog.

Jeffery Picks:

NO. 1 ILLINOIS VS. NO. 12 WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE: This looks like the end of the line for the 12th seeded Panthers, who win this year's Cinderella title for beating No. 5 seed Alabama and No. 3 seed Boston College. Illinois plays outstanding perimeter defense and will neutralize UWM's offensive strength. A predominate Illini crowd won't impede Illinois' endeavor either. Illinois 84, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 71.

NO. 3 ARIZONA VS. NO. 2 OKLAHOMA STATE: What a coaching match-up, Lute Olsen against Eddie Sutton in what looks to be a dead even contest. I like Arizona's superior post game and believe Wildcat senior guard Salim Stoudamire to be the best player on the floor. Sutton can match tactical wits with any coach in the game, but Olsen has better cards. Arizona 67, OSU 62.

NO. 4 LOUISVILLE VS. NO. 1 WASHINGTON: This may be the most entertaining game of the Sweet 16 with two high-octane teams tangling for an Elite Eight berth. Washington is probably the most suspect No. 1 seed while Louisville is the most underrated No. 4 seed. Lorenzo Romar is taking his team into uncharted waters while Pitino has been there and do that. I like the Cardinals rugged defense, inside game and underdog incentive in what figures to be a close one. Louisville 94, Washington 92.

NO. 7 WEST VIRGINIA VS. NO. 6 TEXAS TECH: The Mountaineers have survived a couple of close games behind long-range artistry, while Texas Tech has won with defense and excellent guard play. The Red Raiders have dictated tempo and taken away opponent's strengths. You may be one of those who doesn't want Bob Knight to be Tennessee's next head coach, but you've got to like him with five days to prepare for an opponent. Texas Tech 65, West Virginia 63.

Randy's picks to follow.

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