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NCAA Tournament: Our Thursday Predictions

It's all a big crap shoot so here goes nothing.

Will Duke celebrate Thursday afternoon?
Will Duke celebrate Thursday afternoon?
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

We gave up on picking the brackets years ago because it's fundamentally impossible and one bad pick can screw the whole thing up.

So we go round-by-round. We didn't post for the play-in junk, which is too bad because we would have nailed each one. Too late now!

So let's see what's up for Thursday.

We modify this a little every year, but here's our basic criteria for how to make picks: excellent coaching, guard play, solid defense, balance, the ability to execute in the half-court and experience.

UNC-W vs. Duke: We don't bet against Duke.

Butler vs. Texas Tech: how will Tyler Lewis handle being back in Raleigh? We've always liked his moxie. We'll take Butler.

UConn vs. Colorado: UConn has guys who have done amazing things. They'll win this one.

Iona vs. Iowa We'll go with the upset here. We think Iona is a really solid team.

Yale vs. Baylor. Having seen Yale earlier, we know that's a really good team. Baylor has a tendency to lose focus at times. Let's call another upset.

Hampton vs. Virginia: Hampton won't win this one. Trivia: the brother of former Cavalier Akim Mitchell, Akil, plays for Hampton.

Austin Peay vs. Kansas. Not seeing it. Kansas will win.

UALR vs. Purdue. We don't know enough about Little Rock to be bold here. Purdue is pretty potent. So Purdue.

Buffalo vs. Miami. Bobby Hurley left his DNA all over that program. They're tough. If they can defend Miami effectively, this is a big upset. We'll go with the Bulls.

Chattanooga vs. Indiana. Another potential upset but IU has superb talent. We were frankly surprised Duke beat them this year. Their talent is as good as anyone's. So Hoosiers to advance.

FGCU vs. UNC. It's not Dunk City anymore, but that team put up 96 points on Fairly Ridiculous the other day, which indicates they can run.

Well so can UNC of course and UNC has really played well lately. We don't think they'll lose here but we could see a tighter than expected game. It wouldn't shock us if UNC won by 25 or by seven. However, if they go into the final minutes in a tight game, FGCU might be able to shock the world. We're not betting the rent money though.

Fresno State vs. Utah. Fresno is one of those second-tier schools that has a vastly underrated basketball tradition. We've seen enough of Utah to know how good that team can be. Plus you just know they're mad as hell about that Oregon blowout in the PAC-12 tournament.

Wichita State vs. Arizona. Oh tough call. Arizona has been erratic and Wichita is tough as nails. We'll take Wichita.

Stony Brook vs. Kentucky. It's too early to pick against Kentucky.

Providence vs. USC. Brilliant matchup. Andy Enfield, who created Dunk City at Florida Gulf Coast, has made USC relevant again (and seriously, seriously pissed off UCLA fans). The Trojans struggled down the stretch going 3-7 in the last seven games. But those seven losses were to Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, Stanford, Cal, Oregon and Utah. Everyone except Arizona State and Stanford - coached by Bobby Hurley and Johnny Dawkins respectively - is in the NCAA field.

Our heart says USC but our mind points out that PC has Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, possibly the best one-two combo at Providence since Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes. So Providence.

Gonzaga vs. Seton Hall. We really admire this Pirates team. Plus Gonzaga's massive Polish import,Przemek Karnowski, has been out all year. The Zags have compensated brilliantly, but Seton Hall is very, very tough. So we'll take the Pirates here.

Contrarian thinking: Gonzaga always goes out early. This year, adversity has made them tougher than usual. We'll stick with the Hall.