It looked early on during each of yesterday's games like we were headed for a pair of classic finishes. It wasn't to be, though, as Ohio State and UCLA surged ahead and won by double digits. Congratulations are in order for both UCLA and Ohio State fans. Enjoy Atlanta.
On to today's action:
As impressive as Oregon's offense has been of late, Florida's has been better. And there's no question which team is better on defense. Florida can win at any pace, too - the Gators won each of their five fastest and slowest-paced games on the year.
So, what does Oregon do? The Gators have a tendency to foul too much, and have done so in a couple of their losses. Oregon has excellent perimeter scorers, and those players will need to have great days shooting the ball, but also penetrating, too. Florida defends the three point shot as well as anyone in the country, so the fun may be over for the Ducks if they're unable or unwilling to drive the ball through the lane.
The Line: Florida -7.5
PB's Pick: Florida 79
AW's Pick: Florida 80
Final Score: Florida 85 Oregon 77
Both teams must feel a little fortunate to be playing today after coming dangerously close to defeat in the Sweet 16. Here we are, though, and this is the Game Of The Tournament so far. We all know about the contrasting styles - Georgetown keeps the pace slow, North Carolina likes to push it. In all likelihood, this one will come down somewhere in the middle, so let's discuss some other important points.
Georgetown has had an outstanding season limiting opponents from gathering offense rebounds, but in five of their six losses this year, they struggled in that department. That can't happen today, as the Tar Heels are an outstanding offensive rebounding team (13th nationally) and rely heavily on second chance points. Along with needing to rebound well, Georgetown must stay out of foul trouble, too. Hibbert, in particular, needs to be out on the floor for Georgetown to do what it wants to do.
Georgetown has turned the ball over at an alarming rate this season, but creating turnovers is perhaps the only area in which North Carolina doesn't excel. The Hoyas need to take care of the ball and maximize possessions. The Tar Heels need to attack Georgetown aggressively in transition, penetrate and work hard to get to the free throw line. A few key fouls to key players will go a long way toward helping UNC get to Atlanta.
The Line: North Carolina -3
PB's Pick: North Carolina 71
AW's Pick: North Carolina 69
Final Score: Georgetown 96 North Carolina 84 (OT)