Well, in the second round games, I rallied on Friday and finished with a 4-3 record, making it 18-11-1 on the season. Here are the picks for today’s third round games involving the Big 12 teams.
#2 Kansas vs. #7 Wichita State
It’s the first meeting between the Jayhawks and Shockers since 1993. The matchup actually works out well for Kansas. Wichita State doesn’t have a players taller than 6’7’’, so the Jayhawks lack of size and depth on the front line won’t be as exposed. Meantime, Perry Ellis’ knee injury continues to improve, as he’s recently began “operating without discomfort” in the days before the NCAA’s. I like the combination of Frank Mason, Kelly Oubre, and Wayne Selden to slow down the WSU guards, while Ellis, Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor have their way inside.
The pick: Kansas -1
#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Dayton
This is a very tough spot for the Sooners, as they practically face the Dayton Flyers in their backyard of Columbus, Ohio. This matchup is similar to KU-WSU, because Dayton doesn’t play anyone taller than 6’6’’, while OU has good interior presence. The Sooners finished top 25 in the country in rebounds per game, and used 23 second chance points to beat Albany on Friday night. I expect Lon Kruger to make sure TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler are fed early and often.
Also note, the Flyers only go seven deep, and will be playing their 3rd game in 6 days, and 6th game in the past 10 days. While it will feel like home game for Dayton, their lack of depth and size brings their season to an end.
The pick: Oklahoma -4
#5 West Virginia vs. #4 Maryland
The West Virginia non-stop, full court pressure should shake up the inexperienced Maryland backcourt of freshman Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley. No team in the nation forces turnovers at a higher rate (28.1%) than WVU. Plus, the Mountaineers are fully healthy, with Juwan Staten and Gary Browne returning to the lineup. Staten scored 15 points in 33 minutes in the win over Buffalo. The only question is whether or not Staten begins to get fatigued against Maryland, after missing 4 games to end the regular season. Also, Maryland has been terrible at preventing and getting offensive rebounds, while WVU is the 4th best offensive rebounding team in the country.
The pick: West Virginia -1