3/17 - College Basketball Previews & Picks

Posted Mar 17, 2013

Phil Harrison breaks down and predicts the big top 25 college basketball matchups--conference tournament edition.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Phil Harrison's Record: SU: 48-29, ATS: 42-35

Sunday, March 17th

No. 22 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Ohio State 3:30 pm

What Wisconsin needs to do to win:
The same template that worked against Indiana will have success against Ohio State. The Badgers have the personnel and toughness to get things down in the paint against the Buckeyes and exploit the lack of a real-force for the Buckeye frontcourt. The Spartans were able to do it against OSU in the Big Ten semifinals, they just ran into a white-hot Aaron Craft. Work the clock, dump it down, and go to work.

What Ohio State needs to do to win:
The Buckeyes are starting to get more and more contributions from guys other than forward DeShaun Thomas. They'll need more of the same--most notably from the bench in this one. Whether it be forward LaQuinton Ross, guard Shannon Scott, or others, Ohio State is only going to have success against a solid and physical Badger defense if guys that are left open can make shots and make Bo Ryan's crew pay. It can't be a one or two guy affair, but a complete team effort unlike the poor showing in Madison last time these two tussled.

How it will all go down:
Welcome to another bloodbath. These Big Ten games are fun and entertaining, but there are times when the refs simply let too much go. You can bet this will be one of those games because the Zebras won't be able to call everything. Both teams are on a roll, but it's so hard to get the past the advantage the Badgers have with the slower pace and intent to harm on the blocks. This won't be a blowout like last time, but Bucky will pull it out with defense and patience.

Prediction: Michigan State 62 … Ohio State 58 Line …Ohio State -1.5

No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 16 Saint Louis 1:00 pm

What VCU needs to do to win:
Knock ‘em cold. VCU will play stifling defense and try to force some mistakes like usual, but it'll only go so far. To truly rattle the Billikens, the Rams have to hit some threes. Saint Louis is tough on defense and likely won't fall for the trap of giving the ball away either, so it'll be paramount to have a good shooting night for VCU.

What Saint Louis needs to do to win:
Stay calm as usual and do your thing. Saint Louis did a great job against the pressure defense of VCU last time out, and it made all the difference in the world. The Rams lead the nation in steals, but the Billikens are a seasoned bunch that won't get rattled easy. It they can play the same great defense they did back on February 19, and take pride in limiting mistakes with the ball again, there should be success at the end of the rainbow.

How it will all go down:
Saint Louis is just too experienced, too disciplined on defense, and too composed under pressure. VCU will come out trying to get to the Billikens with defense and tenacity but Saint Louis will use it to their advantage to get some easy looks. The Rams won't be able to solve the riddle of Saint Louis' defense either and it'll be an A-10 tournament championship for head coach Jim Crews and company.

Prediction: Saint Louis 72 … VCU 65 Line …Saint Louis -2.5

North Carolina vs. No. 9 Miami 1:00 pm

What North Carolina needs to do to win:
Things have improved for the Tar Heels since going to the smaller lineup. To have it work to their advantage against Miami, the ‘Heels need to make this a race up and down the court. Normally, the ‘Canes wouldn't mind that type of personality in a game, but with the quickness and athleticism North Carolina is rolling out there now, a full-court game would do wonders for the Tar Heels prospect of winning.

What Miami needs to do to win:
The ‘Canes need to run their half-court sets. Sure Miami can take advantage of break opportunities when it opens up, but the seasoned ball-club is best when point-guard Shane Larkin is setting the table and delivering the mail to open guys who can send it in. On the defensive end, the Hurricanes have to sprint back and play defense against a Tar Heel team that is more dangerous and more adept at breaking out than last time these two met.

How it will all go down:
Miami has found its early ACC groove back. North Carolina will flash some moments in some breakouts, but the Hurricanes are too experienced to fall into the traps of the blistering pace the Tar Heels would love to employ. The U will execute and play a solid floor-game all around on its way to an ACC tournament title.

Prediction: Miami 77… North Carolina 65 Line …Miami -3

Ole Miss vs. No. 13 Florida 1:00 pm

What Ole Miss needs to do to win:
Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson needs to come ready to go in beast-mode. The only way that Ole Miss is going to walk out with the SEC tournament title over the Gators is if Henderson is hitting all over the court. His teammates need to look to set ball-screens for him so he can get open and drill open looks. He's streaky, and if it's going the right way, an upset could be brewing.

What Florida needs to do to win:
The Gators can cut the head of the snake off by pressuring up on the guards. Most notably, they can't let Marshall Henderson out of arm's reach of a defender at all times. He'll be looking to put the Rebels on his back, and if the Gators can get a hand up and stick to him all game long, it'll be a tall proposition.

How it will all go down:
Your Florida Gators will be SEC tournament champs. They'll come out with the pressure and intensity on defense that has defined this season and force Ole Miss into uncomfortable spots on the floor. The Rebels won't be able to get in a groove and will make too many mistakes to hoist a trophy.

Prediction: Florida 79… Ole Miss 67 Line …Florida -11