1. O-H-I-O owns the opening action: Ohio State and Dayton tip off the real tournament. Cincinnati gets underway (against Harvard) by the time that finishes, with tip set for 2:10. Productivity will be especially poor in south/central Ohio during this “workday”.
2. Pittsburgh, can you beat an 8 or 9 seed? Pittsburgh under Jamie Dixon has, well, underachieved in the NCAA tournament (or maybe overachieved in some cases in the regular season). Pittsburgh lost in the 8/9 game last year to Wichita State, who went to the Final Four. They lost in the second game in 2011, as a #1 seed, to Butler, who also went to the Final Four.
I wouldn’t look for the same fate from Colorado, but Pittsburgh, while expected to win this first game, needs to show up and win one of these games, to try to earn a chance to play the spoiler role for once in a 8/9 game versus a No. 1 seed.
3. Can Western Michigan avoid turnovers against Syracuse? Yes, Syracuse has not looked as good lately. If you want to look for reasons to expect a big upset, look no further than Syracuse losing at home to Boston College, and at home to Georgia Tech. Both of those teams power-rate similarly to Western Michigan.
If you want to find a reason to throw water on that, though, look at turnovers. Syracuse is in the top 20 in turnover rate on defense, while Western Michigan is 317th in turnover rate. They need to be better than that to have a chance against the Orangemen.
4. How will BYU cope with the loss of Kyle Collinsworth in rematch against Oregon?
In December, Oregon and BYU played an entertaining 100-96 overtime game (Oregon won). This time around, though, BYU will be without Kyle Collinsworth, who tore his ACL in the West Coast Conference final. Collinsworth was Mr. Versatile, at 6’6″, playing all over, from point to some minutes at the #4 when BYU went small. Without him, Matt Carlino and Anson Winder will have to step up to help Tyler Haws (23.4 points a game).
5. My picks, for entertainment and mocking purposes, on all games during this session:
Dayton (+6) vs. Ohio State. (11:15 start)
American (+13.5) vs. Wisconsin (11:40 start)
Pittsburgh (-6.5) vs. Colorado (12:40 start)
Harvard (+3) vs. Cincinnati (1:10)
Western Michigan (+13) vs. Syracuse (approx. 1:45)
Oregon (-5) vs. BYU (approx. 2:10)
Albany (+21) vs. Florida (approx. 3:10)
Michigan State (-14.5) vs. Delaware (approx. 3:40)