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2012 NCAA Picks - East: Ohio St vs. Syracuse

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 24, 2012


Predicting and projecting every NCAA Tournament game - East Region


2012 NCAA Tournament Picks

East Region

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- 2012 Hoops & Helmets
- 2012 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2
- 2012 Oooooops & Helmets

NCAA Tourney Picks East | Midwest | South | West

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're College FOOTBALL News, but like everyone else we're into hoops this time of year. Back by popular demand after a few years off - we used to be pretty good at this - here are all the picks against the spread with a reason why each team should be picked in your bracket. We'll make the picks round by round and we'll keep track as we go.

CFN East Picks: Straight Up: 9-5  ATS: 7-7

EAST FINAL

No. 1 Syracuse (34-3) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (30-6)
Line: Ohio State -3
Why To Pick Syracuse: The Orange have been tested. Wisconsin couldn't have been more unconscious from three for around 35 minutes - hitting everything possible even with the SU defense being the SU defense - and it still wasn't enough. Ohio State might be a much better matchup than the Badgers were; Syracuse should be able to take off more and get up and down the court enough to get the tempo up and play its style. Defensively, the zone should be able to collapse on Jared Sullinger and will force the Buckeyes to hit from the outside. They can, but they're better from inside the arc. That'll be a problem.
Why To Pick Ohio State: Ohio State is a lot better than Wisconsin. The Buckeyes actually have an inside presence to worry about, and even if Sullinger isn't able to go off, he has to be contained. Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith were tremendous against Cincinnati from outside, and if the Buckeyes can move the ball around like Wisconsin did, the shots will be there. Unlike Bucky, though, there will be far more chances for second chance points; OSU should outrebound the Orange by at least ten.
The Pick: Ohio State 75-70. Expect a bit of a track meet compared to the Syracuse-Wisconsin game. Each team will go on runs that happen in a hiccup, and there should be several wild momentum swings until Ohio State takes control on the boards late.

SWEET SIXTEEN

No. 1 Syracuse (33-3) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (27-9) Line: Syracuse -3.5
Why To Pick Wisconsin: The Badgers have to bust the Syracuse zone with the three. While Wisconsin is considered a rough-and-tumble team, and it seemed to get to every loose ball in key moments against Vanderbilt, this is a finesse offense that can't win unless the threes are falling. A whopping 33 threes were jacked up against the Commodores, and they'll be coming early and often. Kansas State outrebounded the Orange, and Wisconsin should be able to hold its own without allowing too many second chance points.
Why To Pick Syracuse: Live by the three, die by the three. If Wisconsin can't handle the Syracuse 2-3 pressure from the outside against the long Orange, this could get ugly fast. Wisconsin doesn't have enough of an inside presence to penetrate the Orange D, and the offense could go stone cold. Kansas State only hit 4-of-17 threes and got blown out even with 22 offensive rebounds.
The Pick: Wisconsin 63-60. The Badgers are going to be Kansas State but with better three point shooting. The Orange offense will have problems scoring and will go through a few long droughts to match a several Badger dry spells. UW guard Jordan Taylor will be able to penetrate the zone just enough to open things up on the outside for the gunners.
FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 64-63

No. 2 Ohio State (29-6) vs. No. 6 Cincinnati (26-10) Line: Ohio State -7.5
Why To Pick Cincinnati: Gonzaga was able to keep coming at Ohio State because of rebounding, getting a whopping 11 offensive boards. While the Buckeyes can rebound, they're going to have to be far more active to keep Jaquon Parker and the Bearcats from hustling for the ball. UC was able to handle Florida State's defense with a little defense of its own. The Bearcats might not be all that big compared to OSU, but the guards are great at forcing turnovers and great at generating pressure. 
Why To Pick Ohio State: Offensive balance. The Buckeyes might not have a deep bench, but they got 13 points or more from four players against the Bulldogs and can score inside or out. Yes, Cincinnati is active, and yes, it's good at getting to the ball, but there will be big problems if Jared Sullinger is able to get the inside game going early. Ohio State might simply be able to outmuscle a Bearcat team that doesn't get outmuscled. 
The Pick: Ohio State 68-62. Cincinnati won't let the Buckeyes pull away. Ohio State will have the lead for most of the way, but it won't be able to drop the hammer and get comfortable with any sort of run until late. This is when Sullinger will be the difference.
FINAL SCORE: Ohio State 81-66

SECOND ROUND

No. 1. Syracuse (32-2) vs. No. 8 Southern Miss (22-10) Line:  Syracuse -4.5
Why To Pick Syracuse: Kansas State was a disaster from the outside hitting just 2-of-12 three pointers in the win over USM. Even though the Wildcats will fight for every ball, they won't be able to get inside like they'll need to and they won't win the battle on the boards. SU won't give the ball away.
Why To Pick Kansas State: Uhhhhhh, Syracuse? The Melo-less Orange didn't appear to have any of the swagger needed to make any sort of a deep run. So much of what Syracuse likes to do comes from the defensive side, but no one out-toughs Kansas State. The Wildcat only committed 11 points and got the big-time guard play it needed from Rodney McGruder.
The Pick: Syracuse 71-66. The Orange will get nailed soon, but they'll wake up in time to get by the Wildcats in a fight. Poor outside shooting will kill the Cats' terrific effort.
FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 75-59

No. 4 Wisconsin (25-9) vs. No. 5. Vanderbilt (24-10)  Line: Vanderbilt -1
Why To Pick Vanderbilt: Vandy just did this. Wisconsin is good at keeping things at its own pace and loves to slow things down to a crawl, but that's what Harvard does, too. It didn't matter as the Commodores were able to get by the Crimson with ease. The Vandy defense should be able to lock down on Jordan Taylor and keep him from getting inside.
Why To Pick Wisconsin: Vandy was able to beat Harvard by dominating on the boards. It's not going to be able to push around a far more physical Badger team that destroyed Montana up front. Yes, UW likes to get into slugfests, but it's able to bomb away when needed and would have no problems getting into shootouts for a stretch.
The Pick: Wisconsin 68-64. Vanderbilt isn't the Vanderbilt of old, and while it's red hot, Wisconsin will be Wisconsin in the clutch. It's going to be physical, ugly, and clutch when it has to be. Bucky will never get comfortable, but it'll be able to come up with the rebounds and free throws needed late to hang on.
FINAL SCORE: Wisconsin 60-57

No. 3 Florida State (24-9) vs. No. 6 Cincinnati (25-10) Line: FSU -2.5
Why To Pick Florida State: The Seminole defense is stifling - usually. It had a few problems against St. Bonaventure, but it's great at keeping the score low and has the bench to keep throwing options and players at the Bearcats. The Noles won't wear down, and offensively it has the inside presence to score inside and out.
Why To Pick Cincinnati: St. Bonaventure was able to score surprisingly easily at times from three. The Bearcats aren't going to make a slew of mistakes and aren't going to crumble under FSU's pressure. There won't be a slew of easy points allowed off turnovers.
The Pick: Florida State 65-57. The Bearcats were able to get by Texas even though they couldn't connect from three. Florida State isn't going to let much happen from outside and it won't lose on the boards.
FINAL SCORE: Cincinnati 62-56

No. 2 Ohio State (28-6) vs. No. 7 Gonzaga (26-6)  
Line: Ohio State -7.5
Why To Pick Gonzaga: The Bulldogs destroyed West Virginia by putting the clamps down on the three point shooters. The Mountaineers were never in the game because the offense couldn't get comfortable. On the flip side, the Zags were red hot hitting everything needed to put the game away early. Ohio State won't be able to run and gun its way to a win.
Why To Pick Ohio State: Rebounding. Ohio State didn't play its best game with a slew of turnovers and poor shooting, and it still roared past Loyola with ease. Gonzaga is active on the boards but it's not going to outrebound the Buckeyes. OSU will be far better from three.
The Pick: Ohio State 78-70. Gonzaga will do what it does in the tournament and will fight to keep it close, but the Buckeyes will have too much both inside and out. Jared Sullinger didn't exactly take the first round off, but he's due for a dominant offensive performance.
FINAL SCORE: Ohio State 73-66

FIRST ROUND

No. 1. Syracuse (31-2) vs. No. 16 UNC Ashville (24-9) Line: Syracuse -17
Why To Pick Syracuse: UNC Ashville is really, really small, and Syracuse is really, really tall. The Orange might not be a great rebounding team, but the Bulldogs aren’t going to get any second chances.
Why To Pick UNC Ashville: The Bulldogs are loaded with veterans who can bomb away from the outside. If any type of No. 16 can penetrate the Orange 2-3 zone and make things happen inside, it’s this team.
The Pick: Syracuse 81-60. The deep Syracuse bench will overcome the Bulldog experience in an easy first round win.
FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 72-65

No. 8. Kansas State (21-10) vs. No. 9 Southern Miss (25-8) Line: Kansas State -6.5
Why To Pick Kansas State: The Wildcats should be able to offset the Southern Miss balance with a deep and balanced attack of its own. The Golden Eagles don’t have any one player for KSU to worry too much about.
Why To Pick Southern Miss: This is a rock-solid, sound team that doesn’t make a slew of big mistakes. The balance and depth allow coach Larry Eustachy to keep everyone fresh. There’s a chance KSU can’t keep up if USM gets things moving and starts running.
The Pick: Southern Miss 72-65. KSU coach Frank Martin has done a good job in past tournaments, but USM will control the pace early on while causing problems with its D.
FINAL SCORE: Kansas State 70-64

No. 5. Vanderbilt (23-10) vs. No. 12 Harvard (26-4) Line: Vanderbilt -6.5
Why To Pick Vanderbilt: The Commodores are far, far more talented than the Crimson. Harvard might be scrappy and smart, but it doesn’t have firepower. There’s a chance Vandy can bomb its way to the win from three.
Why To Pick Harvard: The Crimson is deep and has the annoying ability to slow the game down to a crawl. The longer the game is close, the more Harvard should be able to turn up the defensive pressure and the more the collar will tighten up on the SEC champs.
The Pick: Harvard 58-54. It’s Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament. You know what’s coming.
FINAL SCORE: Vanderbilt 79-70

No. 4. Wisconsin (24-9) vs. No. 13 Montana Line: Wisconsin -9
Why To Pick Wisconsin: Second chance points. It’s the Badgers. They fight for every loose ball and are great at making things happen on the boards if the outside shooting goes cold. Montana is an awful rebounding team and has no chance against the big Badgers.
Why To Pick Montana: This isn’t the Wisconsin team of recent years. Jordan Taylor is a big-time talent, but the Grizzlies have the defensive pressure and ability to take him away. This is a pesky, Wisconsin-like team that fights defensively and doesn’t give up any easy points.
The Pick: Wisconsin 65-48. The two teams are similar in styles, but the Badgers are better in slugfests. Bucky, with its size, is an awful matchup for the Grizzlies.
FINAL SCORE: Wisconsin 73-49

No. 6. Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13) Line: Cincinnati -2.5
Why To Pick Cincinnati: The Bearcats have several options to work with. The scoring can come from different areas on the floor, but the offense has a go-to guy in Yancy Gates to count on when needed. Texas is really, really young, and it’s still a year away from winning a big, tight game against a good defensive team like Cincy.
Why To Pick Texas: The Longhorns might simply be better. There might be big problems with youth and inexperience, but the talent is terrific and it’s a team that’ll play with nothing to lose. Texas might be more active even if it’s not all that big. The Bearcats might not be able to exploit the Longhorn rebounding weakness inside.
The Pick: Texas 71-67. The Longhorns were among the last of the bubble teams to get in. They’re playing with house money, and they might be too young to know they’re not ready for prime time. They can’t handle a huge team, but UC is a nice fit.
FINAL SCORE: Cincinnati 65-59

No. 3. Florida State (23-9) vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure (19-11) Line: Florida State -6.5
Why To Pick Florida State: Defense, defense, defense. St. Bonaventure is turnover prone and the Noles are killers at capitalizing on mistakes. Few teams in the tournament can get into an opponent’s shirt like FSU.
Why To Pick St. Bonaventure: Andrew Nicholson. The Bonnies have the best player on the floor, and he needs to carry the team on his shoulders. It’s not like Florida State is full of firepower and will have problems coming back if St. Bonaventure can get Nicholson hot early.
The Pick: Florida State 65-57. Nicholson will have a big game, but the rest of the Bonnies will be shut down cold by the Seminole D.
FINAL SCORE: Florida State 66-63

No. 7. Gonzaga (25-6) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (19-13) Line: PICK
Why To Pick Gonzaga: The Mountaineers have Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant, and … ? This isn’t exactly a balanced team. The Bulldogs have the size up front to handle West Virginia’s rebounders.
Why To Pick West Virginia: This is a young Gonzaga team that’s full of inexperience in the backcourt. There’s talent, but the guard make a ton of mistakes and give the ball away way too often.
The Pick: Gonzaga 65-61. It’s Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament. West Virginia has more talent, especially with Jones and Bryant, but the Zags always defy logic in March.
FINAL SCORE: Gonzaga 77-54

No. 2. Ohio State (27-6) vs. No. 15 Loyola (MD) (24-8) Line: Ohio State -17.5
Why To Pick Ohio State: The Greyhounds don’t have the talent. There are some mid-major teams that can get quirky and give a big boy a problem, but there isn’t enough firepower to keep up with the Buckeyes inside or out.
Why To Pick Loyola: Can Loyola slow things down? The guards, led by Justin Drummond, are just good enough to run with the Buckeyes, but they’re also good at keeping the pace to a crawl. Ohio State can go silent for stretches.
The Pick: Ohio State 84-60. This could get ugly fast. Ohio State will bomb away early and Loyola won’t be able to mount any sort of a comeback.
FINAL SCORE: Ohio State 78-59