I haven't written much at all about the ongoing NCAA tournament, but since my days as this site's primary contributor are numbered, I might as well post about as much possible until Monday. So today I'll break down tonight's NCAA games.
#5 Butler vs. #1 Syracuse (-6), 6:05 central
I've been on the Butler bandwagon all season after the clinic they put on at Welsh-Ryan early in the season, and they come into this one on a 22 game winning streak. Unfortunately, I have a really hard time seeing them winning this game. Matt Howard is their only capable big man, and he's very prone to foul trouble, so the Orange should dominate inside. And Butler hasn't seen anything like Syracuse's 2-3 zone in the Horizon League. I think their run ends here.
#11 Washington vs. #2 West Virginia (-4), 6:25 central
This feels like a sucker line to me, and maybe Vegas knows something I don't, but I'm going with the obvious pick here in the Mountaineers. Yes, their point guard Truck Bryant is injured, but he's not exactly an All-American. Washington has a lot more talent than your typical #11 seed and Quincy Pondexter is a beast, unfortunately for him he's going against a better version of himself in Da'Sean Butler. Also, the Huskies' point guard is named Isaiah Thomas, which doesn't bode well (nice job going 7-25 at Florida International this year Zeke, at least he hasn't sexually assaulted any female employees though).
Pick: West Virginia
#6 Xavier vs. #2 Kansas State (-4.5), 8:35 central
I've been impressed by Xavier, especially with Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford who is trying to become known for something other than dunking on LeBron James. Kansas State's backcourt is excellent, but behind Crawford and a big front line, Xavier has an excellent chance to win tonight or at least lose by less than 4.5.
#12 Cornell vs. #1 Kentucky (-8.5), 9:00 central
The most intriguing Sweet 16 game in recent memory is a classic David vs. Goliath game. Going into the NCAAs, I was short on Cornell because they hadn't beaten anyone good all season and lost to an awful Penn team, but after they dismantled Temple and Wisconsin last weekend I have become a believer. As a team they shoot an absurd 44% from 3-point range. and they have enough size that they shouldn't get completely annihilated inside by Kentucky.
As for the Wildcats, they have regained their spot as the most detestable program in college basketball thanks to the hiring of noted weasel John "Vacated" Calipari and their mentally deficient fan base. Here in Boston, yesterday's harmless column in the Globe by Dan Shaughnessy caused Kentucky fans to come out of the woodwork, whining about racism and elitism. And this wasn't just a few random idiots, it was incited by some local sports radio moron, who is apparently ignorant of the cheating, racism, and myriad scandals that have been an integral part of Kentucky basketball over the years, and are sure to continue under Calipari, who's never seen an NCAA rule he wouldn't break.
I could probably rant for 10,000 words about how much of a weasel Calipari is and how stupid most Kentucky fans are, but this is a Northwestern blog so I'll try to stay on topic. The key tonight for Cornell is controlling the pace of the game. John Wall and company are unstoppable in transition, but are slightly vulnerable in a halfcourt game, and if Cornell can hit a bunch of threes per usual they have a real chance of winning tonight. I may just be talking myself into Cornell having a chance because I hate Calipari so much though, so buyer beware.