Updated: March 18, 2013, 12:11 pm ET
Expert pick the NCAA tournament
by Patrick Stevens, Special to USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports bracketologist Patrick Stevens gives you tips for winning your office pool.
Talk about a stacked bracket. Louisville is the top overall seed. Duke finished with the top RPI. Michigan State is perpetually ready for a deep run. Saint Louis is seasoned. Oklahoma State has a dynamite point guard in Marcus Smart. Memphis has 30 wins. Creighton has a first team All-America candidate in Doug McDermott.
It has the making of being a great weekend in Indianapolis at the end of the month, even if there is some carnage in the opening weekend. Speaking of which, here’s how things start off in the Midwest:
North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty: Both teams are a combined 0-11 all-time in the NCAA tournament and two of the most unlikely teams in the field. A&T was a No. 7 seed in the MEAC tournament, while Liberty is the only team in the field with a losing record. Both are feel-good stories to start off March with. You should pick: Liberty.
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Play-in winner: That said, whoever wins that game is cannon fodder for Louisville in the round of 64. Don’t expect the Cardinals to have much difficulty advancing. You should pick: Louisville.
No. 8 No. Colorado State vs. No. 9 Missouri: Colorado State is a ferocious rebounding team. Missouri, with a 39.6 offensive rebounding percentage, isn’t so bad itself. This could be one of the most physical games of the tournament. You should pick: Missouri.
No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Oregon: The Ducks, the Pac-12 tournament champion, were heinously under-seeded as a No. 12. Oregon will have to deal with Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State, and even a Left Coast site does them only so much good with this matchup. You should pick: Oklahoma State
No. 4 Saint Louis vs. No. 13 New Mexico State: Put Saint Louis anywhere, and its brand of smart, tenacious play is going to create problems. New Mexico State would have been an interesting upset possibility against a more haphazard team — and the Billikens certainly don’t qualify as that. You should pick: Saint Louis
No. 11 … [For more on Expert picks in the first round of the NCAA tournament, click here.]
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