The second round of the tournament is set after yesterday’s action. After analyzing each Big East match-up, I went 8-3 in the first round and look to improve upon that figure. Of note, I had VCU topping Georgetown and Gonzaga handling the Johnnies. The second round features another Big East head-to-head match-up with #3 Syracuse taking on #11 Marquette. #2 Notre Dame will play against the surging #10 Florida State Seminoles.
#3 Syracuse Orange vs. #11 Marquette Golden Eagles
Both the Orange and Golden Eagles had relatively easy first round match-ups. The Orange had no problems sending #14 Indiana State home. Big Rick Jackson paced the Orange with 23 points as the Orange advanced 77-60. The Orange shot 52% from the field and 42% from three-point land. The Orange held Indiana to 40% shooting from the field. #11 Marquette upset #6 Xaiver rather easily, winning by a final score of 66-55. Marquette locked down the electric Tu Holloway, holding him to 1 of 8 shooting. Alike Syracuse, the Golden Eagles shot 52% from the field and 42% from three-point land.
In their only meeting this season, Marquette topped the Orange 76-70 in Milwaukee in late January. At the time, this was Syracuse’s fourth straight loss. Syracuse’s defense was extremely sloppy in the meeting, allowing a smallish Marquette squad to shoot 52% from the field. Marquette also out-rebounded the Orange 24-22. Syracuse did shoot 57% from the field in the loss. However, this is a different Orange team that seems focused.
I’m going with the experience and better coaching in this match-up. The Orange remember their earlier loss to the Golden Eagles and will look avenge it. Look for Rick Jackson to get involved early on and for Syracuse to use their size against their smaller opponent.
#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles
Notre Dame had no issue handling their first round opponent, Akron. Ben Hansbrough scored 15 points en route to a 69-56 win. Tim Abromaitis chipped in 14 points. Notre Dame out-rebounded the Zips 35-27 and held them to 36% shooting from the field. #10 Florida State pulled off a first round upset of #7 Texas A&M. Despite trailing by three at halftime, the Seminoles put together a big second half, winning the contest, 57-50. Derwin Kitchen scored 15 for the ‘Noles. More impressively, Florida State held Texas A&M to 31% shooting from the field.
Pick: Notre Dame
Notre Dame has a home court advantage by playing in Chicago. Add in their large, diverse offensive attack and I think it’ll be too much for the Seminoles. Florida State turned the ball over 14 times against Texas A&M so look for Notre Dame to take advantage of that early and often.
To recap, I have Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, UCONN reaching the Sweet 16. Having 31% of the remaining field isn’t so bad for one conference.