Kentucky’s PJ Washington reacts after being fouled near Florida’s Mike Okauru on March 9 (James Crisp)
Kentucky’s PJ Washington reacts after being fouled near Florida’s Mike Okauru on March 9 (James Crisp)|Associated Press
NCAAB

NCAA Thursday: Guest Selectors

Many to choose from

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

During the NCAA Tournament, we will be running some picks from a variety of Guest Selectors, some former players, some business owners, some entertainment personalities, etc.:

MIKE VREESWYK

(Former Temple player)
> Syracuse (-1.5) over Baylor
Don’t ask me why I’m trying to pick an 8/9 game when I have my choice to pick others. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. I’ve always been a sucker for a team that plays primarily zone, being that I’m from the school of John Chaney. It’s incredibly difficult to prepare for and to replicate in practice. On top of that, Baylor is challenged on offense (ranked 201st in overall scoring offense). I’m going with the Cuse to cover.
> Seton Hall (+2.5) over Wofford
I know, I know. Wofford is the sexy mid-major that has a 20-game winning streak. That’s all fine and dandy when you play in the Southern Conference. They played five power conference teams this season and got beat four times by an average of 14.5 points. Seton Hall on the other hand played a real schedule with wins over four top 25 teams and a bunch of other wins against tough power conference teams. I’m going with Seton Hall and the points not because my Dad played there, but because I don’t think Wofford does well against the type of athletes they are about to see.
> Kentucky (-22) over Abilene Christian
I’m no Kentucky or Coach Cal fan by any means. (Coach Chaney should have finished the job when he had the chance. LOL.) But this just seems like one of those never-in-doubt 35 point blowouts that top seeds have. Abilene played one ranked team this season (Texas Tech) and lost by 34. In tourney time coaches aren’t afraid to keep starters in in an effort to gain chemistry and momentum for the next game, so I don’t think Kentucky will let up. I think they cover the large number easily.

RAY KOOB

(Radio Personality)
> Villlanova (-4.5) over St. Mary’s
The Gael's are no slouch of an opponent in the Round of 64, having beaten Gonazaga (a No. 1 Seed), but Jay Wright has the Wildcats playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Cats cover . . . easily! Look for their “kids” to shine!
> Minnesota (+5) over Louisville
Should be a very close game with the Gophers covering. The Cardinals have been up and down in the season's home stretch, having lost to two top tier tournament teams. Minnesota beat two tough teams to get the to Big Ten final, where they were slammed by Michigan.

BILL RUSHTON

(Co-owner High Tides Restaurant)
>
Maryland-Belmont (Under 147)
Did I mention my partner's (at Allstates Bonding) son, Jack Waite, goes to Belmont? Maryland couldn't hit 70 points if if you gave them four 15-minute quarters to do so.
> Michigan (-15) over Montana
Because Montana is, well . . . Montana.
> Auburn (-5.5) over New Mexico State
Because New Mexico State is, well . . . New Mexico State.
> Murray State (+3.5) over Marquette
Marquette has lost five of its last six while the Racers have won 11 in a row. Marquette may win but it will come down to the last minute seconds of the game.
> Murray State-Marquette (Over 149.5)
You simply can't bet “Under” in any game involving the Racers. (This reminds me of the time the analyst on a Sixers broadcast said, “You can't be nicknamed ‘Speedy’ on a team with Allen Iverson, hence the reason they waived Speedy Claxton.”)

KEN LANDIS

(Co-owner Chick's Deli)
> Kansas (-6.5) over Northeastern
Northeastern lacks the firepower for this spot. Now, add on the trip to Salt Lake City (which is no picnic) and a veteran coach like Bill Self waiting for you. This line should be double digits.
> Louisville (-5) over Minnesota
Louisville has been on a tear at the right time and Minnesota doesn’t have the depth to keep up. Coach Pitino The Younger will not extract revenge just yet.

BRUCE LEFKOWITZ

(Penn Hall of Fame Player)
> Yale-LSU (Under 157)
Can’t pick against my Ivy brethren, but in three games against Power 5 conferences, the totals were well below the number. Look for LSU to punch it inside and keep score lower.
> Nevada (-2.5) over Florida
Nevada, despite going 29-4, underachieved all year, but there is too much talent to fold here. Florida will try and control tempo, but the Wolf Pack will get out and run.

KEVIN CALLAHAN

(Host of South Jersey Sports Talk on RVNTV.com)
> Yale (+7.5) over LSU
This upset special is not just because LSU is without its suspended coach Will Wade, who is snared in an alleged pay-for-play scheme, but Yale can really play. Sure the Tigers are talented, including New Jersey’s Naz Reid, but they are already looking toward the NBA and not a second-round game while Yale is coming off the high of an Ivy League tourney title on its home court and the Bulldogs have a NBA talent in Miye Oni who can lead an upset. Yes, calling Yale to win outright.
> Michigan State (-18.5) over Bradley
The Spartans boast one of the best coaches in the game with Tom Izzo while Bradley has the biggest baby of a coach in Brian Wardle, who had a veteran hometown sports writer banished during the conference tourney for not supporting the Bradley brand. The Spartans are also big-time better than there mid-western little brother. The Big Ten Tournament Champions have overcome a slew of injuries this season so their mental toughness won’t allow a letdown to the Braves and their thin-skinned coach.
> Florida State (-9) over Vermont
The Seminoles reached the ACC title game after knocking off Virginia, a No. 1 seed, in the semifinals before losing to Duke, so FSU isn’t coming into the NCAA tourney with a celebratory hangover. As for X’s and O’s, Leonard Hamilton sends long athletes in waves on a defense that enabled the Seminoles to lead the ACC in field goal percentage defense. The Catamounts will be the Hartford crowd darlings, but give me talent over sentiment by double digits every time.
> Michigan (-15) over Montana
The Wolverines reached the title game last year, but even more significant is Charles Matthews is back from missing three games with an ankle injury. Coach John Beilein sends the enviable mix of long wings that can shoot and spread the floor offensively while extending on defense to suffocate Montana’s three-point attack, which is the only way the Grizzlies (38 percent shooters from beyond the arc) keep the spread under 20 even though they should ride the strong fan following in Des Moines, Iowa when the game begins to slip away.
> Saint Mary’s (+4.5) over Villanova
Man, it’s so hard to pick against Villanova even against the spread as Jay Wright can cover the six points with just the confidence he instills in his players. But, Saint Mary’s can play -- the Gaels just upset Gonzaga -- and packs a potent offense. Of course, the Wildcats are coming off winning another Big East Conference tourney title and their sustained success is a tribute to their toughness in grinding out wins. The Gaels have enough to make the Cats scratch out another win.
> Kansas (-6.5) over Northeastern
Yeah, Kansas didn’t win the Big 12 title for only the second time under Bill Self and the Jayhawks are without starters Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick, but Dedric Lawson will pick up the slack and will drop 30 on the Huskies in a double-digit win over the Huskies and end their seven-game winning streak in Salt Lake City.
> Kentucky (-22) over Abilene Christian
John Calipari
will win by as many points as the Kentucky coach wants, but the final spread won’t be up to Coach Cal – his deep and talented bench is going to keep pouring it on poor Abilene Christian. The Wildcats aren’t the same team that lost to Duke by 34 points in November and they are a team that will win this first round mismatch by more than 34.5 points over the Wildcats, who are just in their sixth-year in Division I and will be just happy to be playing in Jacksonville.

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