DENVER, Colo. - Today has been a day of rest at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Well, not for the teams. They had closed practices and press conferences.
At other sites today, we've had riveting basketball. We had exactly the opposite of that here on Thursday, and we're hoping for better tomorrow.
Our first game, which starts at 4:40 Mountain time, features #4 seed Pittsburgh and #5 seed Michigan St. There are a lot of similarities between these teams. Both are pretty physical teams, rebound well, and get good play from their guards.
Pitt happens to be on fire at the moment. The Panthers won the Big East tournament, then stomped Oral Roberts on Thursday.
Michigan St has generally not played well away from home this year, but you wouldn't know that judging from the pounding they gave Temple.
Both teams play essentially three guards, although Michigan State's Raymar Morgan is a little big for a guard. That is the matchup that will likely be key for Michgan St. They need production from the guards, but Morgan in partcular.
Drew Neitzel did not have a particularly good game against Temple, but he wasn't needed. He will be be tomorrow.
Levance Fields of Pitt had a huge game against ORU with 23 points. It's probably not reasonable to expect that again, but if the team has the balance that they had the other night, with five players in double figures, that will be the omen of a good night.
The matchup that might be the toughest for MSU is Sam Young. Young had a quiet 14 against the Eagles, but his size and ability to play inside and out could cause problems for the Spartans.
Say what you want about MSU, they will be prepared. They toughened themselves up by, "beating ourselves up with game film," according to coach Tom Izzo. That has to hurt.
I like the hot Panthers in this game.
Game two will have another Big East team, Notre Dame taking on Washington St from the Pac 10.
WSU shut Winthrop down completely in the second half of their game on Thursday, which is befitting their top 5 ranking in scoring defense.
Notre Dame will provide some challenges. It will be up to Aron Baynes to try to contain Luke Harangody, while Derrick Low and company on the perimeter try to slow down Kyle McAlarney.
Notre Dame averages about 80 points a game, but WSU gives up less than 55 and only gave up 80 once all year.
On the other end, Low needs to find a way to get his offense going before the halftime break. He was 0-5 against Winthrop in the first half, but 4-5 in the second.
Good offense vs good defense. I'll take good defense and the Cougars.
Tonight, I am watching games from the Blake St Tavern, just north of Coors Field in Denver.
There have been a lot of competing interests here today. I've seen shirts from Purdue, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio St, Kansas, UCLA, Georgetown, Oklahoma and Oregon, Everybody has a dog in the fight. Except Ohio St.