March Madness: The three games for Thursday

The three games for today...

The three ACC games for today…

The Round of 64, or the real first round, is upon us and that means it’s time to check out what the Atlantic Coast Conference teams are going to do. In all there are three games from the conference, beginning with Pittsburgh, then Syracuse and finally N.C. State. Two out of three of the games have the ACC teams favorite, while the third one, N.C. State, a lot have looking to upset the higher seed in this one.

So let’s check out the three games for today…

#9 Pittsburgh (25 & 9) vs #8 Colorado (23 & 11)

Time: 1:40 p.m. EST on TBS

Region: South

Venue: Amway Center (Orlando, Florida) 18,845 capacity, built in 2010

Even if the Panthers are the lower seed they are favorite in this one by 6.5 points. Both teams had injuries to key players, both have had ups and downs and both were able to “get it back together” and make it to the Big Dance. Now, the key will be which of the two programs will take advantage in this game. The one major factor in this match up is how well Talib Zanna has recovered from a stomach virus. If he is not 100% this might just swing things in Colorado’s way. While most of their team stats are the same, there are a pair that do not at all, with Pitt having the edge in assists 17.4 to 13.9 and in turnovers 9.7 to 13.

My bracket pick: Pittsburgh

Pick with the spread: Pittsburgh

#14 Western Michigan (23 & 9) vs #3 Syracuse (27 & 5)

Time: 3:45 p.m. EST on CBS

Region: South

Venue: First Niagara Center (Buffalo, New York) 18,690 capacity, built in 1996

It’s basically a home game for the Orange, who are favorite by 13 points, against a team that few know much about. On the other hand SU has not been playing their best of late, even with forward Jerami Grant coming back into the fold. It is interesting that many of the main stream analysts and experts have been on either side of the fence, having Syracuse either going far or faltering quickly. Dan Danick, on Mike & Mike in the Morning, said today that he could see SU losing in the first round. Looking at team stats, much are the same, but the Orange are much better in steals 10.5 to 4.6 and that to me will be the key in the game.

My bracket pick: Syracuse

Pick with the spread: Western Michigan

#5 St. Louis (26 & 6) vs #12 N.C. State (22 & 13)

Time: 7:20 p.m. EST on TNT

Region: Mid-West

Venue: Amway Center (Orlando, Florida) 18,845 capacity, built in 2010

The Wolfpack, who are five points underdog, have already played a game in this tournament, easily defeating Xavier by the score of 74 to 59. The conference Player of the Year, forward T.J. Warren, is going to be the man that will carry this team as far as it goes. How far that is I am not sure, but I think it will be farther than the Round of 64 and the Billikens. Of all the game stats in this game there are a pair for each side. For State it’s 9.4 to 11.3 turnovers and 49.0% to 43.7% in field goals. For St. Louis it’s 8.6 to 5.9 steals and 72.3% to 63.2% from the charity stripe.

My bracket pick: N.C. State

Pick with the spread: N.C. state

This means I have all three of the conference moving to the Round of 32. On the other hand, would I be surprised if one or two programs fall today? No, not at all. Mostly because we need to see how N.C. State feels after the one game, or if Syracuse can rebound from the late season downswing. If the Wolfpack do not feel any tiredness from Tuesday and if the Orange can get back to the beginning of the season, when they began 25 and 0, then I see no problem in all three programs moving forward. For the Panthers it’s about the health of the team that might just mean a victory or a loss. And that is why they play the game and why this is the best three week on sports!

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