The darth of upsets in the first round was disappointing, but remember kids - this is a zero sum game: the lack of Cinderellas also means we've got a lot of strong teams set to battle today. Let's take a quick tour of today's action:
(3) Washington State vs (6) Vanderbilt
EAST REGION QUARTERFINAL (Sacramento, CA)
How They Got Here: Washington State beat Oral Roberts 70-54 / Vanderbilt beat George Washington 77-44
Game Analysis: You could argue that these two teams had the most impressive first round showings on Thursday, especially given the show the Cougars put on in the second half against Oral Roberts. Neither of these teams does anything exceptionally well, but neither team has a glaring Achilles' heel, either. Washington State is very good at limiting turnovers (fourth nationally in TO Rate), but they're also a horrendous offensive rebounding team, which limits their number of scoring chances. The Commodores thrive on high percentage shooting - both inside and outside the arc - and like Washington State, they don't turn the ball over too much.
Add it all up, and this one's hard to figure. Based on what I saw with my eyes in the second half versus Oral Roberts, I'm inclined to pick Washington State. Of course, no one in our region got to watch Vanderbilt paste GW. I'm flipping a coin here. . .
The Line: Washington State -2
PB's Pick: Washington State 64 Vanderbilt 60
AW's Pick: Vanderbilt 76 Washington State 75
Final Score: Vanderbilt 78 Washington State 74 (2OT)
(2) Georgetown vs (7) Boston College
EAST REGION QUARTERFINAL (Winston-Salem, NC)
How They Got Here: Georgetown defeated Belmont 80-55 / Boston College defeated Texas Tech 84-76
Game Analysis: Boston College can certainly score - especially in the paint - but they're a below average defensive team. They allow too many second chances and are terrible at forcing turnovers. That's good news for Georgetown, who shouldn't have much trouble running their half court sets. If the Hoyas have one glaring weakness, it's their turnover rate, which is well below average; as noted above, though, Boston College is not a team that's likely to capitalize on that weakness.
Without the ability to force Georgetown into mistakes, does Boston College have a chance of an upset here? It seems unlikely, so long as Georgetown shows up on the defensive end. At least on paper, an upset here seems farfetched.
The Line: Georgetown -8.5
PB's Pick: Georgetown 70 Boston College 60
AW's Pick: Georgetown 68 Boston College 60
Final Score: Georgetown 72 Boston College 65
(3) Pittsburgh vs (11) Virginia Commonwealth
WEST REGION QUARTERFINAL (Buffalo, NY)
How They Got Here: Pittsburgh defeated Wright State 79-58 / Virginia Commonwealth defeated Duke 79-77
Game Analysis: The Panthers have managed to be underrated by a lot of folks, most likely because of their so-so finish to the season. They'll be everyone's enemy today as they match up with the Cinderella of the 2007 tournament so far. Does VCU have a chance to win another game?
Certainly. The Rams are an excellent offensive team, but more importantly, they're a very quick offensive team. Pittsburgh is at its best when their lumbering center Aaron Gray is out on the floor, but they have to take him out of games that get into up-tempo run and guns. VCU would be wise to play full court pressure defense and blitz into transition at every opportunity - at the least just to get Gray off the floor.
If the Panthers are able to keep the game at a tempo of their liking, they'll likely overwhelm Virginia Commonwealth. Based on what I saw in the opening round, though, VCU will be eager to make this a scrappy, fast-paced game. Assuming they can create some havoc again, they can pull off the upset.
The Line: Pittsburgh -7
PB's Pick: VCU 73 Pittsburgh 70
AW's Pick: VCU 72 Pittsburgh 70
Final Score: Pittsburgh 84 VCU 79 (Overtime)