NCAA Tournament: Saturday Preview/Predictions

March 21st, 2009

So many games, so little time. helps you out by cutting to the core of each Tournament game. Click on team names for stats, results, and more. "Matchup" links include helpful injury news, betting tips and information.


Second Round: Saturday



UCLA vs Villanova



Favored: Villanova by 2

Over/Under: 144.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: UCLA frosh Jrue Holiday (13 points, 6 assists) woke up for the first time in a month against VCU. He needs to step up again.

Nutshell: Two evenly matched teams, but the home-court could decide the game for Villanova once again.

At Stake: A shot against a beatable Duke (or Texas) team in the Sweet Sixteen.

CHN Prediction: UCLA (50.0001% certainty)


Looming next: Duke/Texas


Announcers: Dick Enberg/Jay Bilas

Watchability: (UCLA games are often methodically played, but there's a good chance for a close finish)



Maryland vs Memphis



Favored: Memphis by 9

Over/Under: 131

More: Matchup


Star Watch: When Tyreke Evans (15 ppg) was sitting against Northridge, the Tigers really struggled.

Nutshell: With wins over MSU and UNC, Maryland has proven they can step up in the clutch.

At Stake: Memphis still has many BCS-loving doubters after their dud effort against Northridge.

CHN Prediction: Memphis (70% certainty)


Looming next: Missouri/Marquette


Announcers: Tim Brando/Mike Gminski

Watchability: (I was less impressed with Maryland in Round One, and mostly just horrified by how bad Cal was)



Texas A&M vs Connecticut



Favored: UCONN by 10

Over/Under: 138.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: Bryan Davis (21 & 9) had his way against BYU, but UCONN's frontline is a different beast.

Nutshell: After beating BYU in Round One last year, A&M put a scare (51-49) into #1 seed UCLA. Can they scare UCONN?

At Stake: If A&M could somehow top the Huskies, they'd matchup very favorably with either Purdue or Washington next.

CHN Prediction: UCONN (80% certainty)


Looming next: Purdue/Washington


Announcers: Enberg/Bilas

Watchability: (Not buying A&M's chances here)



Purdue vs Washington



Favored: Washington by 1

Over/Under: 139.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: UW freshman Isaiah Thomas (15 ppg) must step up after shooting just 3-13 in round one.

Nutshell: The day's most even matchup pits teams who are ranked closely in the polls & the RPI.

At Stake: The Big Ten is off to a great start in this year's tourney, and win here would be big.

CHN Prediction: Washington (55%)


Looming next: UCONN


Announcers: Kevin Harlan/Dan Bonner

Watchability: (Odds for a nail-biter are high, but Purdue games are often painful to watch)



Michigan vs Oklahoma



Favored: Oklahoma by 7

Over/Under: 135.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: In his last three games, OU's Blake Griffin is shooting 81% from the floor (29 of 36).

Nutshell: Michigan almost blew it against Clemson, but will need to focus for a full 40 against the Sooners.

At Stake: John Beilein teams have won at least 2 games in his last 5 postseasons (NCAA & NIT).

CHN Prediction: Oklahoma  (60% certainty)


Looming next: Syracuse/Arizona St


Announcers: Brando/Gminski

Watchability: (Blake Griffin is always must-watch TV, and Michigan has proven they can beat top teams.)



Louisiana St vs North Carolina



Favored: UNC by 11

Over/Under: 158.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: Marcus Thornton hadn't hit over 50% of his shots in 40 days before going off for 30 against Butler.

Nutshell: The country's best team faces a team that shot lights out in round one, and still barely beat Butler.

At Stake: LSU pride. A Tiger loss would officially end the SEC's dismal season.

CHN Prediction: UNC (90% probability)


Looming next: Gonzaga


Announcers: Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg

Watchability: (You have to watch just to see whether and how much Ty Lawson plays..)



Western Kentucky vs Gonzaga



Favored: Gonzaga by 10.5

Over/Under: 143.5

More: Matchup


Star Watch: WKU is a team of 4 wings, and one 6-8 guy, Jeremy Evans. He'll have his hands full against Josh Heytvelt (15 ppg), who eats up teams with no bigs.

Nutshell: WKU was able to impose their tempo on Illinois for most of the game, but that tempo suits Gonzaga's style.

At Stake: A shot to play against the #1 team in the land.

CHN Prediction: Gonzaga  (75% certainty)


Looming next: North Carolina


Announcers: Harlan/Bonner

Watchability: (Should be played at an enjoyable tempo)



Texas vs Duke



Favored: Duke by 7.5

Over/Under: 139

More: Matchup


Star Watch: AJ Abrams (Texas) came out of a 3-month hibernation, hitting 8 threes in Round One. He'll need a repeat performance.

Nutshell: The ACC has had a very bleak 2009 Tournament, and many feel Duke is ripe for the picking.

At Stake: Duke is becoming known for fizzling out early, while Rick Barnes and Texas have a reputation for losing big games. Something's got to give.

CHN Prediction: Duke  (65% certainty)


Looming next: Villanova/UCLA


Announcers: Nantz/Kellogg

Watchability: (Must watch, especially if the game is close early)



Enjoy the games. Stop back at tonight and tomorrow for post-game reactions!