Five picks for the first round of the NCAA Tournamentby Anthony Gimino on Mar. 18, 2010, under Sports
Not for Arizona, but there is still basketball to play, including two days of glorious first-round action in the NCAA Tournament.
Without the Cats to cover, this would have been a good time to fulfill that dream of spending the first round in a sports book in Las Vegas, but we’ll just have to settle for some virtual gambling this time around.
So here are five five-star locks:
New Mexico State (plus 13.5) vs. Michigan State, Friday. The Aggies are legit. This is a team of athletic, 3-point gunners that didn’t reach full strength until forward Troy Gillenwater returned from academic ineligibility in early February. Starting forward Wendell McKines was out until mid-December because of academic problems, another reason why the Aggies overall record is only 22-11. If NMSU shows some gumption on the boards, it will easily keep this one close.
Louisville vs. Cal (pick ‘em), Friday. All things being equal, take the team from the Big East. Louisville beat Syracuse twice, Cal beat … uh, Cal beat … we’ll get back to you on that. It doesn’t help that Bears’ starting forward Omondi Amoke was suspended Wednesday and won’t play in the first round.
Richmond (minus 2) vs. Saint Mary’s, Thursday. Saint Mary’s has the size inside, but Richmond has the excellent guard combo of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez (which only looks like a typo). Plus, it’s a long trip to Providence, R.I., for a game that tips off about noon Pacific Time.
Texas A&M (minus 3) vs. Utah State, Friday. Utah State is one of the best-coached teams in the West, and these Aggies, as usual, shoot as well from everywhere as any team in the country. But there is a reason why they have had a hard time getting out of the first round, and that’s athleticism, which the Aggies from Texas A&M, led by guard Donald Sloan, have.
UTEP (plus 2.5) vs. Butler, Thursday. Too bad this is a first-round game, because each team could make a Sweet 16 run with the right path. Only one will, knocking off the Vanderbilt-Murray State winner in the second round. The Miners’ size and strength inside will carry the day.