By Jon Rothstein
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BEST GAME: BELMONT VERSUS GEORGETOWN
The showdown between the Hoyas and Bruins has gotten major attention since the brackets were announced last Sunday. John Thompson III’s team is tremendous at stopping what Belmont does best — making the three. Look for the Hoyas to really force Rick Byrd’s squad to penetrate as much as possible in hopes of slowing down their long range attack.
BEST CHANCE FOR AN UPSET: NC STATE OVER SAN DIEGO STATE
Steve Fisher has done a tremendous job keeping the Aztecs afloat on the national scene after losing four starters from last year’s group that made the Sweet 16 but the match up with the Wolfpack could exploit San Diego State’s deficiency — a lack of size. NC State big man C.J. Leslie is playing the best basketball of his college career and may be too much for the Aztecs to handle on the baseline.
BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: XAVIER’S TU HOLLOWAY VERSUS NOTRE DAME’S JERRIAN GRANT
In order for either of these teams to have a chance to advance in the field, they’re both going to need their point guards to play at a high level and that’s what makes this tilt so intriguing. Holloway entered the season as arguably the nation’s top floor general while Grant has emerged after a red shirt season. Whomever wins this showdown will likely LEAD their team to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
1. THE “FOUR HORSEMEN” WILL SILENCE ST. BONAVENTURE’S ANDREW NICHOLSON
Florida State’s four interior players — Bernard James, Okaro White, Xavier Gibson, and Jon Kreft will be too much for the Bonnies star power forward as the Seminoles advance.
2. SAINT LOUIS WILL SLOW DOWN MEMPHIS
There couldn’t be a worse draw for the Tigers. The Billikens will finally win an NCAA game under Rick Majerus.
3. DETROIT WILL PUT A SCARE INTO KANSAS
The Titans are no 15 seed. This game will be in question midway through the second half.
4. LIU WILL BE COMPETITIVE WITH MICHIGAN STATE
For at least 20 minutes. The Blackbirds are determined to have a good showing and can run on Sparty.
5. TEMPLE’S GUARDS WILL HELP THEM EEK OUT A WIN OVER SOUTH FLORIDA
This one isn’t going to be pretty — but the Owls’ veteran perimeter of Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore, and Khalif Wyatt will help them get by a pesky Bulls team.
FIVE UNDER THE RADAR NAMES TO KNOW
1. JASON BRICKMAN, LIU
2. DREW HANLEN, BELMONT
3. ELI HOLMAN, DETROIT
4. YOUSSA NDOYE, ST. BONAVENTURE
5. BRIAN CONKLIN, SAINT LOUIS
What’s your bracket-buster pick for Friday? Sound off below!