Ballsy 2009 Tournament Predictions | First Round


Welcome to the second annual ‘Ballsy Tournament Predictions’. Last year’s edition, while well-written (if I may say so myself), was completely wrong. My Final Four predictions from last year were (and I’m not kidding), #2 Tennessee, #6 USC, #1 UCLA and #4 Pittsburgh. In reality, the only pick I can really be ashamed of was the Trojans, considering they didn’t survive the first round. For the record, I had Duke losing in the Elite Eight. What can I say, I’m a bias fan, so go to hell.

This year will completely different. I’m going to be on it this year, I’m–who am I kidding. Don’t listen to my predictions, I haven’t gotten anything right since 1996. Having said that, I’m going to give you my thoughts anyhow. This is how it will work.

– Monday: First Round Predictions
– Tuesday: Second Round Predictions
– Wednesday: Sweet 16 & Elite Eight Predictions
– Thursday: Final Four & Title Game Predictions



#1 Pittsburgh over East #16 East Tennessee State.
If the Bucs can slow it down and play good fundamental basketball, hit their free throws and–come on, I’m just f-ing with you. East Tennessee State hasn’t played in two weeks. The Panthers walk away by 35 in this one.

#8 Oklahoma State over #9 Tennessee
Tennessee has Bruce Pearl, Pat Summit and now Lan Kiffen…can one school really handle this many egos? I want to know, but it’s not relevant for this prediction. The Volunteers are tall and experienced (Chism and T. Smith) in the paint. The Cowboys have three guards (Anderson, Harris and Eaton) that can run with almost anyone. Come tournament time, we’re all about the guards.

#5 Florida State  over #12 Wisconsin
After a deep ACC tournament, the Seminoles are quickly becoming everyone’s favorite sleeper. I’ve seen the Noles play plenty and I can’t blame anyone for thinking that way. However, the Badgers still have Bo Ryan, who’s one of the smartest coaches out there. If he can find a way to just slow down Tony Douglas, Wisconsin will win this game. Too bad they won’t.

#13 Portland State #4 Xavier
One team has not looked so good lately. One team has gone 5-5 in their final 10, losing to some shitty competition. One team struggles against athletic guards who shoot lots of threes, and one team has to cross the country to play. Have you figured out the one team I’m talking about it. If you haven’t, just stop reading this now.

#11 VCU over #6 UCLA
The Bruins have been to the Final Four three straight seasons. It’s impressive, but it won’t help them this year. You see, they never had to leave the state of California for those regions. This season UCLA has to fly cross country to Philly to face a very strong VCU team, led by Duke-killer, Eric Maynor. One bit of advice I can give UCLA. Don’t flop. It didn’t help Duke win two years ago.

#3 Vilanova #14 American
Last year I said if American lost, the terrorist won. They lost and yes, the terrorist won. However, we have a shot at redemption, folks. The American Eagles (seriously, that kicks ass) are an experienced bunch, who have won 13 in a row, too bad they’re basically taking on the Wildcats at home. No underdog love in Philly.

#7 Texas over #10 Minnesota
The Longhorns are playing better lately, while Minnesota is lucky to even get in. None of that matters come tournament time. The Gophers could pull off the upset thanks to their freshman towers; Iverson and Sampson, who are a combined 12’9 inches tall…but come on, this is still Tubby coaching.

#2 Duke over #15 Binghamton
Come on, haters. I dare you to pick Duke to lose in the first round. In all honesty, I never heard of Binghamton. It sounds British, but it’s not. The Bearcats have D.J. Rivera, a quick guard and the leading scorer of the America East Conference. Duke struggles with quick guards, so look for Binghamton to keep it close…for about seven minutes. Duke by 25.


#1 North Carolina over Radford
If the Tar Heels don’t score over 110 against Radford, they suck. They really, really suck.

#9 Butler over #8 LSU
Last season, the SEC player of the year (I can’t remember his name. He played for Vandy. You can look it up) went down in the first round. Look for it to happen again with LSU and Marcus Thorton. My gut says, by Sunday night, you’re going to know who Gordon Hayward is. A hint…he plays for Butler.

#12 Western Kentucky over #5 Illinois
Last year’s Cinderella 12th seed gets to face off against an improved Illinois squad. However, Illinois has a star point guard, his name is Chester Frazier, and he’ll be out with a broken hand. Good luck with that.

#4 Gonzaga over #13 Akron
Did you know that Akron’s head coach, Keith Dambrot, coached Lebron James for a bit in high school? You didn’t? Loser. Too bad he doesn’t have him now. The Zags are no longer everyone’s favorite Cinderella story. They’re now an elite program with NBA-type players…who has survived the first weekend of the tournament only once in the last eight years.

#6 Arizona State over #11 Temple
Both teams play great defense, both also have a star player (James Harden for ASU, Dionte Christmas for Temple) that takes care of most of the scoring. This one should be fun. Too bad no one will be watching in the stands in Miami, just ask the Hurricanes and Heat and Marlins and even the Dolphins sometimes. I’m flipping a coin on this one and it landed on Harden and the Sun Devils.

#14 S.F. Austin over #3 Syracuse
All talk will be about how fresh will the Orange be after playing about three dozen overtimes last week. They shouldn’t be. They should be talking instead about S.F. Austin’s defense against the three, 26% (#1 in the nation). They should also talk about how Syracuse hasn’t made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament since 2004. Yep, I’m picking the upset.

#7 Clemson over #10 Michigan
Everything is pointing to an upset. The Tigers have dropped eight out of their last fifteen, got beat by a pathetic Georgia Tech team in the ACC tournament and they’re facing a 1-3-1 defense for the first time against a Michigan team that has already beaten one ACC powerhouse this season (Duke). So why am I picking Clemson to win? How the hell should I know?

#2 Oklahoma over #15 Morgan State
Is it me or is there a lot of hate directed at Oklahoma right now? I know they’ve struggled a bit lately and they have no bench (only going seven deep), but come on people. They still got Blake Griffin, who only averages a football score; 21 points and 14 rebounds per game. Blake will out-rebound Morgan State by himself.


#1 Louisville over #16 (Play-in winner)
You have to hand it to Rick Pitino…he’s a good sport. In fact, “Why did I move next to this asshole?” may be my favorite line of the year. I’m not sure who the Cardinals will be playing, but does it really matter? Besides, the play-in game is the stumpiest thing ever.

#9 Siena over #8 Ohio State
The Buckeyes nearly get a home court advantage, but we love Siena here at Big Duke Balls. Mostly because we predicted their first-round upset last year, but it also gave us an opportunity to link to many naked photos of Sienna Miller. We’re not in love with putting a Cinderella slipper on the same team twice, but the Saints are a fearless bunch and Ohio State still doesn’t have a Junior center named Greg Oden anymore.

#5 Utah over #12 St. Mary’s Arizona
While all the talking heads can debate over and over again about who should be in this spot; St. Mary’s or Arizona, we’ll instead focus on the game. The Wildcats have three solid scorers (Hill, Budinger and Wise), but Utah will win with fundamentals; strong inside D, rebounding and superior free throw shooting. Would you expect anything less from a good Mormon school?

#4 Wake Forest over #13 Cleveland State
I would love to pick Cleveland State. I really would. They can slow things down, killing a running team like Wake and they’ve already defeated the Orange, in Syracuse. Plus, why isn’t anyone talking about Wake Forest’s 8-6 finish to the season? Not too impressive. The only thing is, those six loses came in the ACC. Cleveland State is not in the ACC.

6 West Virginia over #11 Dayton
Why do I foresee a lot of people picking this #11 over #6 upset? They should be careful. Yes, the Fliers can play some solid D (giving up just over 60 per game), but Bob Huggins has a super stud freshman in Devin Ebanks and can also play some defense. I’d bet you a dollar that Dayton doesn’t break 50.

#3 Kansas over #14 N. Dakota State
Here’s the game I most want to watch. Seriously. How can you not love this match up? Yes, I’m picking the Jayhawks to win, but trust me, it will be tough for even Kansas fans to not cheer for Dakota. In the end, I wouldn’t be shocked to see an upset. Despite being in Division I for only one season, the Bison boys have a roster full of seniors/experience, who can play fearless because they got nothing to lose, right?

#7 Boston College over #10 Southern Cal
Congratulations, Trojans. You won the PAC-10 tournament. Your mothers must be real proud. Now welcome to the ACC. The Eagles are young, but they got Rice. Besides, what can the Trojans throw at BC that they haven’t gotten from facing Carolina, Duke, Wake and others?

#2 Michigan State over #15 Robert Morris
Let’s say you were playing a drinking game, where the rule was, you drink every time Mr. Morris’ squad shoots a 2-point shot…don’t do it, because you’d be completely sober by the end of the game. Seriously, the Colonials will be throwing up threes from every angle on the court (they made 40% during the season).


#1 Connecticut over #16 Chattanooga
The Huskies have the most disruptive force inside the paint. Thank God for the Mocs, they hardly ever go inside. This could end up being the closet #1 vs #16 in this year’s tournament. Look for Chattanooga to keep it (sort of) close for at least a half (thanks to threes), before Connecticut’s talent takes over.

#8 BYU over #9 Texas A&M
You want a stat? Try this one on for size. the Cougars shoot 49% from the floor…as a team…for the season…the entire season. You got that? For every two shots they take, they make one.

#5 Purdue over #12 Northern Iowa
Man, Purdue lucked out on this one. They should not be a five seed. The Panthers got a seven-footer, who weighs nearly 300 pounds, so he should be fun too watch, but Northern Iowa has nothing to stop Robbie Hummel.

#4 Washington over #13 Mississippi State
The Rebels are quite a story, winning their first Conference Title in 56 years. Of course back then, they still wouldn’t let a black person on their campus (and they still insist on flying the rebel flag), but that has nothing to do with this. Miss State will be a popular first-round sleeper, but let’s not kid ourselves, they’re playing in the Huskies backyard in Portland.

#11 Utah State over #6 Marquette
For a guy who has never been to the state of Utah (and because of Prop 8, hates the Mormon church right now), I’m sure giving their teams lots of love. However, it’s not that I love Utah State, it’s that I’m disliking Marquette and the location. First, the game is in Idaho, Utah State’s friendly neighbor. Second, Marquette is 1-5 since losing their star, Dominic Jones, and they haven’t made it out of the first round the past two years even with him.

#3 Missouri over #14 Cornell
The Big Red can hit the three, but they’ve never seen a full-court press like the one the Tigers will throw at them. This one will be over too quickly for television.

#7 California over #10 Maryland
If Vasquez can have another triple-double, then the Terps could probably pull off the small upset, but let’s be realistic. Maryland has one great guard, while the Bears have three really good guards (Christopher, Randle and Robertson).

#2 Memphis over #15 CS Northridge
Look on the brightside, when Memphis takes on the Matadors, it will be the toughest opponent they’ve faced in weeks. Seriously, do you realize Memphis is the only team from Conference USA in the tournament. The only one! CS Northridge could probably finish fourth in Conference USA.