Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Thursday Games

#10 Stanford vs. #11 Dayton:   Stanford by 3
The Sweet Sixteen surprise match-up.  My prediction for this game prior to the tournament had Stanford by 4, so Dayton has closed the gap but Stanford is still favored.  My subjective judgement agrees.  (Dayton's biggest fan for this game?  Wojo.)

#2 Wisconsin vs. #6 Baylor:  Wisconsin by 4
The needle hasn't  moved at all on this game.  Baylor has surprised some with their performance, but Creighton was probably over-rated at a three seed.  And let's not discount Wisconsin's beat-down of American and handling of Oregon.  I know many think that Baylor could surprise Wisconsin, but my own expectation is that Wisconsin will win handily.  I think Baylor will quickly get disheartened by the Wisconsin defense.

#1 Florida vs. #4 UCLA:  Florida by 4.5
The machine predictors generally rate Florida as the best team in the country, and after their dismantling of Pittsburgh it's easy to see why.  Prior to 2005 UCLA had never played Florida.  Since then, they've had the misfortune to meet them four times in the Tournament -- every time during a year when Florida was at its best.   As a UCLA fan, I don't like the matchups with the Florida players, and you can't expect them to shoot 55% from the field as they did against Stephen F. Austin.

#1 Arizona vs. #4 SDSU:  Arizona by 8
It feels like both of these teams have been playing well, but they've actually just won their tournament games about as expected.   SDSU was lucky to face North Dakota State instead of Oklahoma, or they might not be in this game.  This should be a straightforward victory for Arizona.

Friday Games

#2 Michigan vs. #11 Tennessee:  Tennessee by 3
The Prediction Machine had Tennessee as one of the most mis-seeded teams this year, and that has certainly borne out.  They've actually played significantly above the predictions, so they're now a 3 point favorite in this game (they were a 1 point favorite before the tourney began).  Michigan has played about as expected.  Tennessee may revert to form, but either way Michigan is facing a tougher challenge here than you'd expect from the seeding.

#3 Iowa State vs. #7 Connecticut:  Iowa State by 3
The Prediction Machine doesn't consider injuries, so this line should probably be a little tighter.  These are both mediocre, inconsistent teams, so I won't be surprised if either team wins big or if it's a 3OT thriller.
#4 Louisville vs. #8 Kentucky:  Louisville by 6
This is the only sub-regional that has played out (so far, anyway) exactly as the PM predicted.   The Kentucky-Wichita State game was a tremendously fun game to watch, but let's not overstate the value of a two point win over a very over-seeded #1.  UK beat Louisville solidly early in the year, but that was on UK's home court.  On the other hand, six points isn't a lock.  It's certainly going to be a hard-fought game, and could be an instant classic.

#1 Virginia vs. #4 Michigan State:  Michigan State by 2
Michigan State has the slight edge here, but Virginia's defense should keep them in the game.  I'll be surprised if this is a blow-out either way.

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