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HomeNewsNCAA Tournament Picks: J. Brady McCollough's prediction for each remaining game

NCAA Tournament Picks: J. Brady McCollough’s prediction for each remaining game


Arkansas guard Davonte Davis pushes Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. during the Razorbacks’ upset win Saturday.

(Morry Gash/Associated Press)

No. 4 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Arkansas

Thursday, 4:15 p.m., Las Vegas


Line: UConn for 3.5.

original selection: UConn over Kansas.

New selection: I had the Huskies pull off the same upset the Razorbacks just pulled off, taking down the defending national champion Jayhawks. Arkansas showed plenty of energy to get past Kansas, but it took a ridiculous performance from backup guard Davonte Davis, who stepped in for a struggling Nick Smith Jr. UConn’s dominating performance in wins over Iona and Saint Mary’s looks more sustainable and holds my confidence in the Huskies’ spectacular depth throughout their rotation.

πŸ€ Prediction: UConn 68, Arkansas 61

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 3 Gonzaga

Thursday, 6:45 p.m., Las Vegas


Line: UCLA for 2.

original choice: UCLA 63, Gonzaga 60.

New choice: In my original pick, I wrote, “The Bruins absolutely need a healthy Adem Bona to have a chance to slow down Drew Timme on the inside.” I’m not entirely convinced that Bona, who strained his shoulder during Saturday’s win over Northwestern, is going to play, let alone handle Timme, one of the NCAA tournament greats of the modern era. The Zags showed tremendous toughness coming back to beat a capable Texas Christian team. I underestimated the supporting cast around Timme. Sorry Bruins fans, but I’ll change this one after further review.

πŸ€ Prediction: Gonzaga 66, UCLA 63

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 5 Miami

Friday, 4:15 p.m., Kansas City


Line: Houston at 7.

original choice: Houston over Drake.

new selection: When I picked Drake over the Miami upset, I assumed Norchad Omier’s injury would limit him or rule him out altogether. Omier was a force over the weekend, helping the Hurricanes in the second weekend once again. Miami is feisty, but Houston has the best shooting guard on the court in Marcus Sasser, plus the athletes to fight Omier inside in J’Wan Roberts and Jarace Walker. The Cougars push through even the toughest Sweet 16 matchup.

πŸ€ Prediction: Houston 64, Miami 59

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Xavier

Friday, 6:45 p.m., Kansas City


Line: Texas for 4.

original choice: Texas 72, Xavier 67.

new selection: In my original pick, I wrote: “The Longhorns are playing to an advantage that only comes from trying to get their interim head coach the full-time job.” Texas struggled in the second half to finish off Penn State, but the Longhorns ultimately didn’t waver much in their determination to play Rodney Terry for two games. Seeing Xavier, on the other hand, felt like riding a roller coaster. The Musketeers nearly lost to Kennesaw State and then beat Pittsburgh. Texas consistency, particularly on the defensive end, will win out. I’ll stick with Bevo, and for the same score.

πŸ€Prediction: Texas 72, Javier 67

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 San Diego State

San Diego State forward Keshad Johnson celebrates during a second round win over Furman on Saturday.

San Diego State forward Keshad Johnson celebrates during a second round win over Furman on Saturday.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)

Friday, 3:30 p.m., Louisville


Line: al for 7.5

original choice: Alabama 83, San Diego State 57.

new selection: In my original choice, I wrote, β€œThis is going to be ugly. There’s just not much San Diego State can do better than Alabama for 40 minutes.” While I still agree with that last sentiment, I didn’t fully understand how well educated San Diego State is on how to play winning basketball by coach Brian Dutcher. Alabama is going to win this game because they can score and defend at a higher level, but this will be much closer. The Aztecs will make the Crimson Tide work well into the second half.

πŸ€ Prediction: Alabama 76, San Diego State 66

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 15 Princeton

Friday, 6 p.m., Louisville


Line: Creighton at 10.

original choice: Creighton over Arizona.

new selection: First of all, we need to start by tipping our cap to Princeton, the heroes of the Ivy League, and the biggest teams across the country. I assumed the Cinderella magic would fade in the second round against Missouri, but the Tigers only doubled down on the fact that they are an excellent team that belongs in the quest for a Final Four. That said, I can’t get over Creighton, who survived tough guards at North Carolina State and then humiliated Baylor. I liked Creighton more than Arizona because of his ability to beat you offensively from all five spots, and that belief was further reinforced over the weekend.

πŸ€ Prediction: Creighton 73, Princeton 65

No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic

Thursday, 6 p.m., New York


Line: Tennessee for 5.

original choice: Duke over Purdue.

new selection: I really liked this region, there’s no denying it. I didn’t expect this Tennessee team, which had been limping to the finish line, to be the team that would break through for Rick Barnes, but here we are. That is the tournament. Florida Atlantic is a good story, but the Owls had a great opportunity with Kendric Davis’ late injury in his escape from Memphis and barely edged out No. 16 seed Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. As long as the refs let the Vols play physically, they will go to the Elite Eight.

πŸ€ Prediction: Tennessee 67, Florida Atlantic 59

No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Michigan State

Thursday, 3:30 p.m., New York


Line: Michigan State by 2.

original choice: Marquette over Kentucky.

New selection: I must have momentarily lost my mind when I chose Montana State over Kansas State in the first round. I clearly forgot the power of having a lead guard back in March, and the Wildcats’ Markquis Nowell was just awesome over the first weekend. Tom Izzo now has three days to prepare the Spartans for Nowell, and the good news for him is that Michigan State has a heady and mentally tough group on the perimeter. Kansas State’s first-year head coach Jerome Tang just sent John Calipari home early, but besting Izzo in March once he’s got a head full of steam? It’s not happening.

πŸ€ Prediction: Michigan State 64, Kansas State 63

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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