2011 NCAA Tournament Predictions: First Four

March 14, 2011

I said this last year before I made my predictions public, and I will say it again this year; these are my opinions on the NCAA Tournament. I cannot guarantee that taking my advice on anything will help you win your respective office pool or any other bracket game you may play. The truth is, a lot of it comes down to luck and circumstance, and no matter how much I analyze and stress over the matchups, I am not really giving myself (or anyone else who decides to listen to me) a true advantage over anyone else. Although I have finally won a bracket pool with more than five people in it, my argument still holds water. With that being said, I do this purely out of joy for the game, and out of hope that I can stir up conversation between anyone who reads my work.

For those of you who go back and read articles from this blog that are over a year old, (what? There has to be somebody out there who does it.), yes, that first paragraph is almost completely identical to the one I wrote last year before I revealed my predictions. What can I say? It was a great way of explaining that, quite frankly, I have as good a chance as the hot chick down the hall from you of correctly picking a high percentage of games.

Enough of the bush-league blog talk. Here are my predictions for the first round matchups which, as unprofessional as it may sound, I don’t really care that much about.

First Round Games to Watch

#11 USC vs. #11 VCU (Wed, following UTSA vs. Alabama State game)

VCU has been getting blasted by the national media for getting in over teams such as Virginia Tech, Colorado, and St. Mary’s. Yet USC, a team that finished 19-14 and was blown out by Rider at home back in November, is okay. The Rams are not a bad team, and will likely shown that on Wednesday night. Remember a certain CAA team that got an at-large bid in 2006 and was highly criticized? If that doesn’t ring a bell, think a little harder. This will be a classic battle of offense vs. defense. VCU likes to score, and USC plays good defense. However, both teams struggle on the other side of the ball. This game may come down to free throws, where VCU holds the edge (71.9% to USC’s 65.3%). Regardless, both of these teams would be a dangerous first opponent for Georgetown.

#12 UAB vs. #12 Clemson (Tues, following UNC-Asheville vs. UALR game)

Like VCU, UAB was another team that received backlash when they were chosen over other bubble teams to play in the NCAA tournament. However, UAB poses a pretty good matchup for the Clemson Tigers. Clemson likes to stifle teams with their lockdown defense, but UAB plays that way as well, so something has to give. Keep an eye on guards Aaron Johnson (UAB) and Demontez Stitt. Both are the leaders in assists on their respective team, and Johnson leads the entire NCAA in that category. Creating opportunities for their teammates is a must if they want to expose the opposing defense, which won’t give up points easily.

Team That Could Make a Run 


Looking at potential matchups, Clemson is really the only team who has a decent shot at moving past the second round. The winner of the VCU/USC game will have to play a rested Georgetown team, and the other two first round matchup winners get to play a one seed. Clemson would get a West Virginia team that has been up and down all season, and if they were to win that game, would likely get a young Kentucky team. In addition, the Tigers have been playing pretty well this March, which isn’t something you can usually say about Clemson. I’m not super confident about any of the teams playing in the “First Four”, but if I had to pick one to play more than two games, it would be Clemson.

My Picks

#16 UNC-Asheville over #16 Arkansas-Little Rock

#12 Clemson over #12 UAB

#16 UT-San Antonio over #16 Alabama State

#11 VCU over #11 USC

– K. Becks

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