Kentucky tips off the SEC portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament today.
Welcome to the best weekend of the year, everyone.
4 KENTUCKY vs. 13 PRINCETON
2:45 p.m. ET, CBS
These teams are two of the more storied ones when it comes to March Madness. UK is one of the premier programs in the history of the game. Princeton is famous for pulling upsets and begetting an offense that other underdogs use to pull upsets.
I don't see any upsets coming today though. Kentucky is really good and deserved a better seed than a 4. Princeton isn't bad as far as Ivy League teams go, but the Tigers earned their 13-seed with a rank of 89 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings. If the young guys for the Wildcats don't initially take the game seriously, it could be close for a half or so. That's about all Princeton can hope for though.
The Pick: Kentucky 81, Princeton 68
5 VANDERBILT vs. 12 RICHMOND
4:10 p.m. ET, TBS
This game is one of the most trendy upset picks in this year's bracket. It's a 5-12 game, and those rightfully have a reputation for creating upsets. Plus, Vandy has lost in the first round as a 4-seed in each of its last two tournament appearances.
Kevin Stallings is getting a bit of a bad rap over the latter though, as he's outperformed his seed more times than he's underperformed it. Richmond is no pushover and could very well end up winning the game, but making that pick solely off of Stalling's track record makes no sense. As it is, Vandy will need Festus Ezeli to stay out of foul trouble and have its scorers John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor be on today. Their defense will have trouble with Richmond's offense.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 75, Richmond 71
2 FLORIDA vs. 15 UC-SANTA BARBARA
6:50 p.m. ET, TBS
Here's the best I can do to make this one sound interesting. UCSB is ranked 129 in the Pomeroy ratings. Pretty bad, right? Well, Florida has lost to UCF (98), Mississippi State (111), South Carolina (124), and Jacksonville (165) this season. By KenPom's measure, the Gators have suffered upsets of similar magnitude already this year.
The problem is, it's not five days before Christmas (Jacksonville loss) or a game after beating an SEC East rival (MSU and South Carolina losses). This would be a huge upset if the Gauchos somehow won, especially as the game is in Tampa, and it would be a bad sign for the rest of the tournament if the Gators win by less than 10.
The Pick: Florida 85, UCSB 65