Column: Sports Prediction Central, March Madness edition

Predictions for the first round of the big dance

Welcome to a special March Madness edition of Sports Predictions Central, a column for predictions of the best games on the sports slate this week. 

March Madness has arrived, with the first round spanning Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20. In this edition, we will be predicting and breaking down the outcomes of the following first round games: #9 Georgia Tech vs. #8 Loyola Chicago, #11 Syracuse vs. #6 San Diego State, #12 Winthrop vs. #5 Villanova, #12 Georgetown vs. #5 Colorado and #9 St. Bonaventure vs. #8 LSU.

#9 Georgia Tech vs. #8 Loyola Chicago, Friday, March 19, 1 p.m.

Adam: If Georgia Tech still had the ACC player of the year Moses Wright, this pick would be a lot easier to make. They will be without Wright on Friday for a matchup with a tough Loyola Chicago team. Nonetheless, I think the supporting cast of Georgia Tech will step up big time, propelling them to a win and a second round matchup with Illinois.

Georgia Tech 65, Loyola Chicago 61

Alex: Though both teams match up pretty well, Georgia Tech is playing without their star-studded talent Moses Wright, making this matchup a little more difficult to choose than normal. However, I think the Yellow Jackets will get the job done down the stretch and knock off the cinderella-story Loyola Chicago of years past. 

Georgia Tech 74, Loyola Chicago 67

Eric: After coming off a rare ACC championship, the Yellow Jackets are playing with some momentum. Even without star Moses Wright, I think Georgia Tech will be too much for Loyola Chicago, who made a miracle run into the Final 4 a couple years ago. This game will be close for the duration of the game, but I think Georgia Tech pulls away in the end. 

Georgia Tech 87, Loyola Chicago 75

Final Score: Loyola Chicago 71, Georgia Tech 60

#11 Syracuse vs. #6 San Diego State, Friday, March 19, 6:40 p.m.

Adam: Syracuse has been a popular upset pick in brackets, but I just don’t see it happening. While they are a fantastic team, they have a tough draw in an experienced and physical San Diego State team. San Diego State will handle the hot shooting of Syracuse en route to a slim victory.

San Diego State 71, Syracuse 68

Alex: This is a matchup I feel could swing either way. San Diego State is yet to be truly tested and while we know they are strong and physical, I feel the Orange could pull off the upset coming out of a much more difficult conference. I see Syracuse taking the victory in a close one. 

Syracuse 72, San Diego State 68

Eric: The Mountain West Champions in San Diego State face Syracuse, who lost in the ACC championship on a last second shot. San Diego State is a good shooting team, with above average defense — a reason why many thought they were seeded too low. I don’t think this game will be close, as San Diego State’s defense will smother the Syracuse offense.

San Diego State 79, Syracuse 65

Final Score: Syracuse 78, San Diego State 62

#12 Winthrop  vs, #5 Villanova, Friday, March 19, 6:57 p.m.

Adam: The loss of their best player Collin Gillaspie has been devastating for Villanova. Coming off a shaky end to the season with losses over teams they should have easily beat, I believe they will be upset by a stout Winthrop team.

Winthrop 68, Villanova 61

Alex: Though I don’t see Villanova making it too far in the tournament, I’m not one to believe that their run will end before it even starts. The Winthrop hype train is at an all time high and to be honest I’m just not sold. Villanova, under great pressure, will rise to the occasion and prove the doubters wrong on Friday night. 

Villanova 68, Winthrop 62

Eric: Many believe that this game will be an upset and I am one of those people. After many injuries, Villanova has not been the same team since the beginning of the year and Winthrop has only one loss on the season. Winthrop is very athletic and active in the paint with good forwards.

Winthrop 77, Villanova 72

Final Score: Villanova 73, Winthrop 63

#12 Georgetown vs. #5 Colorado, Saturday, March 20, 9:15 a.m.

Adam: Georgetown was not supposed to be an NCAA tournament team prior to the Big East tournament. They ran the table in that tournament, however, securing them an automatic bid and cementing them as one of the hottest teams in the country. I believe the hot streak will end, as they face a veteran Colorado team who won’t go down quietly. Colorado wins convincingly.

Colorado 73, Georgetown 58

Alex: Georgetown, who was just able to squeak into the tournament, faces stiff competition with the Buffaloes. This Colorado team dominates other teams based off their physicality alone, and I see the hot-handed Georgetown going down cold. The Buffs take the win and advance further down the road.

Colorado 76, Georgetown 68

Eric: Colorado is one of those teams that I can see going far in the tournament because of their defense and they led the PAC-12 in made 3-pointers. The Buffaloes are consistent and an experienced team, while Georgetown is a very inconsistent team. The game will be close, but the Colorado defense will show up when needed most.

Colorado 70, Georgetown 66

Final Score: Colorado 96, Georgetown 73

#9 St. Bonaventure vs. #8 LSU, Saturday, March 20, 10:45 a.m.

Adam: LSU has one of the most lethal offenses in the country, but they run into one of the most underrated defenses in the country in St. Bonaventure. While LSU is a three headed monster on offense, they are porous on defense. St. Bonaventure will slow down that offense and exploit their defense, leading them to a win in a nail-biter.

St. Bonaventure 75, LSU 73

Alex: I see LSU coming out looking to capitalise on the offensive side of the ball, pressuring St. Bonaventure’s defense immensely. While I do see the tigers having some trouble down the stretch, I believe they’ll be able to hold on and advance to play Michigan.

LSU 74, St. Bonaventure 70

Eric: LSU is one of the more offensive-minded teams, with some defensive lapses. The St. Bonaventure offense is nothing special and I do not think that the Bonnies will be able to keep up with LSU’s shooting. I have LSU moving onto the Round of 32 against the #1 seeded Michigan.

LSU 89, St. Bonaventure 70

Final Score: LSU 76, St. Bonaventure 61

Current Prediction Standings (Through Ninth Edition):

Alex: 23-22 (2-3 last week)

Adam: 22-23 (2-3 last week)

Eric: 22-23 (3-2 last week)