2012 NCAA Picks - Midwest: UNC vs. Kansas

Posted Mar 25, 2012

Predicting and projecting every NCAA Tournament game - Midwest Region

2012 NCAA Tournament Picks

Midwest Region

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CFN Midwest Picks SU: 12-4  ATS: 11-4-1

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.


No. 1 North Carolina (32-5) vs. No. 2 Kansas (30-6)
Line: Kansas -2
Why To Pick North Carolina: Even with Thomas Robinson being Thomas Robinson with 15 rebounds, Kansas couldn't seem to handle NC State's activity on the boards giving up second chance after second chance. Granted, KU is bigger and stronger on the glass than Ohio, but the Tar Heels blew away the Bobcats in rebounding margin 56 to 26 and should win the fight on the boards. Even with the concerns about Kendall Marshall, UNC is better than NC State, who came within a whisker or beating the Jayhawks - Harrison Barnes isn't going to shoot 3-of-16 again. No, KU isn't going to go 1-of-13 again from three like it did against the Pack, but it'll go through a few key cold streaks.
Why To Pick Kansas: Marshall might be practicing, but UNC can't count on its quarterback being close to what he needs to be. Without their leader on the point, the Tar Heels committed a whopping 24 turnovers and did everything it could to allow the Bobcats to get back in the game. The Kansas defense is going to be far more aggressive and far more hounding than Ohio's, and there will be more enough easy points in transition. The Jayhawks aren't going to want to run with Carolina, and it probably won't have to if they can quickly convert off turnovers and get back in their defensive set.
The Pick: North Carolina 75-72. UNC looked discombobulated without Marshall at the helm, but it also managed to tighten up after exploding early. There's still enough talent across the board to overcome the banged up point guard with Barnes about to show why he's going to be a top five draft pick. Tyler Zeller will help negate KU's rebounders just enough to keep the second chance points to a minimum.


No. 1 North Carolina (31-5) vs. No. 13 Ohio (29-7) 
Line: North Carolina -10.5
Why To Pick Ohio: The Tar Heels are beaten up, battered, and bruised. John Henson is still trying to get back to 100%, while Kendall Marshall is coming off his own wrist injury. Ohio is able to go just deep enough to hold up for a full 40 minutes, and it's a disciplined enough team to take advantage of and lack of continuity. The Bobcats aren't making any mistakes, and while they're not rebounding all that well, they're hitting from the outside. The guards were phenomenal against South Florida from three, and they should keep UNC from getting comfortable on the outside. Few teams left in the tournament are better at controlling the tempo.
Why To Pick North Carolina: Ohio should get killed in the rebounding margin. South Florida was far more active, but the Bobcats were able to make up the slack with three point shooting. The Tar Heels should be able to do whatever they want on the inside, and even with a modified backcourt, moving the ball around and controlling the pace on their own shouldn't be a problem. The Bobcats will want to be meticulous and can lull teams to sleep, but they aren't going to go on the run needed to pull this off.
The Pick: North Carolina 76-63 The injury issues will only sharpen up the rest of the Tar Heels. They'll play at a higher level with everyone stepping up their respective games to make up for the problems. Ohio might be balances and air-tight when it comes to not making mistakes, but like most of the teams in the tournament, they won't have the talent.
FINAL SCORE: North Carolina 73-65 OT

No. 2 Kansas (29-6) vs. No. 11 NC State (24-12) Line: Kansas -8
Why To Pick NC State: Kansas is just asking to get tagged, and it should've lost to Purdue. NC State has enough offensive balance both inside and out to be able to stay with the Jayhawks, and they should be able to come up with the key shots needed. The light has gone on for the Pack, who's finally playing up to its potential and finally starting to do what everyone expected. The three point shots are falling, the rebounds are coming, and the mistakes are being kept to a minimum. State committed just 14 fouls against Georgetown.
Why To Pick Kansas: KU's guards are better than NC State's guards. The three point shooting wasn't there against Purdue, but there was enough production off the bench to pick up the slack on the boards and make up for the defensive problems against Robbie Hummel. Purdue's defense is good, but KU simply didn't shoot all that well - and it still won. Unlike Georgetown, KU will be better on the boards thanks to Thomas Robinson.
The Pick: NC State 75-72. The Wolfpack will come through where Purdue didn't. Kansas seems to be just trying to survive and move on, but that'll be a problem against a relentless State team that's playing with the utmost confidence. Every time the Jayhawks seem like they're about to take control, State will have an answer.
FINAL SCORE: Kansas 60-57


No. 1 North Carolina (30-5) vs. No. 8 Creighton (29-5) Line: UNC -8.5
Why To Pick Creighton: The three point shooting was on in the first round against Alabama just enough to get by. The Blue Jays were clutch when they had to be and they should be able to keep the Tar Heels on their heels with timely shooting. The mistakes and turnovers won't come; Creighton is tight with the ball.
Why To Pick North Carolina: Creighton's defense is a problem. UNC can run when it has to, it can go inside when needed, and the guard play should dominate at times. Creighton doesn't match up well against the Tar Heels - few teams do - and while it'll try to bang inside, it won't be able to come up with enough stops on the other end of the court.
The Pick: North Carolina 74-63. It doesn't matter that John Henson is still hurting; the Tar Heels will still win on the boards and will step on the gas when they need to.
FINAL SCORE: North Carolina 87-73

No. 12 South Florida (22-13) vs. No. 13 Ohio (28-7) Line: USF -2.5
Why To Pick Ohio: The first half of the Temple game wasn't a fluke. South Florida couldn't score, and while it exploded in the second half, Ohio won't let that happen. The Bobcats are far too disciplined and far too good at controlling the tempo and pace to let the Bulls go on a run. They won't commit a slew of turnovers.
Why To Pick South Florida: The defense should be able to get out on the Ohio shooters to slow down the three pointers. Ohio didn't bomb away against Michigan, but it's able to make plays inside and out and is always good at getting to the rim when needed. USF is just athletic enough, and just strong enough defensively, to not get beaten and fooled time and against like the Wolverines did. 
The Pick: Ohio 70-68. It'll be a terrific game between two teams better than their respective seeds. Ohio is too disciplined to allow a slew of easy rebounds and second chance points, and they're not going to fold like Temple did. 
FINAL SCORE: Ohio 62-56

No. 3 Georgetown (24-8) vs. No. 11 NC State (23-12) Line: Georgetown -4.5
Why To Pick Georgetown: Belmont threw several players in the mix and it didn't matter in the ugly blowout. The Hoyas were lights out shooting getting points inside and out, and the formula should work again against an NC State team that'll go through stretches when things won't work.
Why To Pick NC State: The Wolfpack defense was terrific against San Diego State. The Aztec guards weren't able to hit, and State capitalized. State should be just active enough from all five spots on the board to negate Georgetown's toughness inside.
The Pick: Georgetown 68-62. The lack of a deep bench will be a killer for the Wolfpack. Georgetown will bang around early, get State in foul trouble, and hang on late in what'll be a tough out.
FINAL SCORE: NC State 66-63

No. 2 Kansas (28-6) vs. No. 10 Purdue (22-12) Line: Kansas -8
Why To Pick Kansas: Purdue doesn't have the size like Detroit does. Kansas was outrebounded in the first round, but that's not going to happen against the smallish Boilermakers who'll rely on quickness and timely shooting. The Jayhawks should be too deep and should be stronger on the inside.
Why To Pick Purdue: Bombs away. Kansas could get in trouble if the Boilermakers get hot from the outside. Detroit was never in the game, but it wasn't getting blown out even though the three pointers weren't falling. The Jayhawk defense had a lot to do with that, but the Titans were cold. Purdue won't struggle as much.
The Pick: Kansas 76-69. Purdue will hang around, but KU will run when it needs to and will get the turnovers to pull away in the second half. It'll be down to free throws late.
FINAL SCORE: Kansas 63-60


No. 16 Vermont (23-11) vs. No. 16 Lamar (23-11) Line: Lamar -3.5
Why To Pick Vermont: Lamar isn't very good. It can't shoot and it has little to no size. The team has its head over its skis after the Pat Knight tirade, and the rock-steady Vermont team should be able to survive a tight first round slugfest.
Why To Pick Lamar: The Cardinals have a few more options. Vermont is a young team that could struggle under the pressure if this gets tight late. Lamar has a lot of problems, but it's active – or it least it became more active after getting honked at.
The Pick: Vermont 63-59. Lamar has been on an emotional roller coaster and Vermont's decent front line will control the game.
FINAL SCORE: Vermont 71-59

No. 12 California (24-9) vs. No. 12 South Florida (20-13) Line: California -2.5
Why To Pick California: South Florida is offensively challenged. The Bulls struggle to manufacture offense and rarely go on spurts against the better teams. There isn't a go-to guy USF can count on for points in the clutch.
Why To Pick South Florida: Cal isn't exactly high-octane. South Florida is one of the toughest defensive teams in the tournament, and while anyone who can come up with points early should be able to come up with an easy win, Cal doesn't have the pop.
The Pick: South Florida 58-54. Every basket is going to be like pulling teeth, USF is far better tested and should be able to grind out a win with its D.
Final Score: South Florida 65-54

No. 1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. No. 16 Vermont (24-11) Line: North Carolina -15.5
Why To Pick Vermont: The Catamounts have nothing to lose and could start bombing away. They played with confidence and easily outclassed Lamar at every turn. They're going to bomb away.
Why To Pick North Carolina: Vermont might not get a rebound. The Tar Heels should be able to hang around the rim all game long unchecked, and they should be able to come up with a slew of second chance points.
The Pick: North Carolina 85-52. Vermont's tournament was made by thumping Lamar. The fun will end quickly.
FINAL SCORE: North Carolina 77-58

No. 8. Creighton (28-5) vs. No. 9 Alabama (21-11) Line: Alabama -1.5
Why To Pick Creighton: Can the Tide score? The team might have been better after the controversy and the suspensions, but it also lost its firepower. The Blue Jays can put up points in bunches and are phenomenal from behind the arc.
Why To Pick Alabama: There aren't more mentally tougher teams in the tournament, getting through the problems to rally to a great season. The Tide can play D and are as scrappy as they come, and while the offense might not be there, Creighton doesn't play any defense.
The Pick: Creighton 74-66. It'll be a nip-and-tuck game, but Creighton will have an offense down the stretch; the Tide will come up with too many empty trips.
FINAL SCORE: Creighton 58-57

No. 5. Temple (24-7) vs. No. 12 South Florida (21-13) Line: Temple -3
Why To Pick Temple: South Florida might have stopped Cal cold, but it's not like the offense exploded. The Bulls aren't great at coming up with points in spurts, and they're likely going to have problems defensively with the effective Owl offense that spreads the ball around.
Why To Pick South Florida: The defense is really, really good. Temple isn't going to explode, and while the offense is solid, it's not spectacular. USF is just active enough and athletic enough on the boards to get a slew of second chance points. 
The Pick: South Florida 63-61. The USF D will keep the score low by bothering the terrific Owl backcourt. It's not going to be a pretty game, but it'll be a good win for the confident Bulls.
FINAL SCORE: South Florida 58-44

No. 4. Michigan (24-9) vs. No. 13 Ohio (27-7) Line: Michigan -6
Why To Pick Michigan: The Wolverines can stay in any game with their three-point shooting. They're great at keeping games at their own pace, and they can suddenly pull away by bombing away. The guards, led by Tim Hardaway Jr., are the type who can carry a team deep.
Why To Pick Ohio: Michigan can shoot, but Ohio can really shoot. Tremendously coached by John Groce, the Bobcats are fearless and cranking up the offense a few notches, while the defense should generate the pressure to give the Wolverine backcourt trouble.
The Pick: Ohio 68-65. Each team will live and die by the three, but Ohio will do it a little better. Michigan will make mistakes late and will go cold, while Ohio will keep on gunning in the clutch.
FINAL SCORE: Ohio 65-60

No. 6. San Diego State (26-7) vs. No. 11 NC State (22-12) Line: NC State -1.5
Why To Pick San Diego State: Turnovers are a big problem for an inconsistent NC State team. The Aztecs might not be as good as they were last year, but they're steady, sound, and they don't make a bunch of key errors.
Why To Pick NC State: If the Wolfpack is playing up to its capabilities, it should be able to come up with the win by simply being better offensively. This is a momentum team. If everything is going well, it can be one of the most dangerous low-seeded teams.
The Pick: San Diego State 75-71. State will have its moments when it looks like it'll blow the game open, and then it'll go ice cold. Slow and steady will win the race as San Diego State will knock out a sure-to-be-trendy pick.
FINAL SCORE: NC State 79-65

No. 3. Georgetown (23-8) vs. No. 14 Belmont (27-7) Line: Georgetown -3.5
Why To Pick Georgetown: The Hoyas can really defend. They can get the pressure and they can bother the Bruins from outside and should be able to dominate inside. Georgetown will kill with second chance points.
Why To Pick Belmont: it's Georgetown in the NCAA tournament. There have been few more disappointing teams over the last few years. Belmont has the firepower, especially beyond the three, to give the Hoyas a nightmare of a time.
The Pick: Georgetown 68-61. Belmont is a very, very dangerous team, but the Hoyas will come up with a few bit stops late to come away with a tough with.
FINAL SCORE: Georgetown 74-59

No. 7. St. Mary's (27-5) vs. No. 10. Purdue (21-12) Line: Purdue -2
Why To Pick St. Mary's: This is the exact type of team that can handle a Big Ten team without a problem. The Boilermakers won't be more physical than the Gaels, and they don't do enough defensively outside of the arch to slow down the threes that'll come.
Why To Pick Purdue: If the Boilermakers get hot from outside, they can keep up the pace and don't have to worry about the inside. St. Mary's is great from three, but it's also awful at defending it. Purdue is a three-point shooting team.
The Pick: St. Mary's 69-61. Purdue is the perfect first round team for St. Mary's. The Gaels don't have to do much running and should win the three-point shooting war.
FINAL SCORE: Purdue 72-69

No. 2. Kansas (27-6) vs. No. 15 Detroit (22-13) Line: Kansas -15
Why To Pick Kansas: KU doesn't have the stars or the offensive punch of past Bill Self teams, but it's extremely strong inside and has the defense that can shut down Detroit cold for long stretches. Detroit isn't good enough defensively to hang around late.
Why To Pick Detroit: The Titans are big on the inside and shouldn't have any problems staying with KU on the boards. Ray McCallum, the guard and not his dad, the head coach, is the type of streak shooter who becomes legendary in March.
The Pick: Kansas 76-58. Don't sleep on Kansas. Many are going to stay away after the problems in the Big 12 tournament, but Self's team will come out roaring.
FINAL SCORE: Kansas 65-50