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NCAA Bracket Picks & Spring Football Disappointment

The Tournament is here. I pick 11 games and share my frustration about Miami not having a spring game.

Miami v Wichita State Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Before I share some NCAA Tournament picks, I feel compelled to briefly step onto my soapbox. I couldn't be more excited about the 2017 college football season and Hurricanes fans are more optimistic than I've seen in a decade. Mark Richt and his staff are changing the culture, developing players, and recruiting at a very high level. Attendance was up last season and Hard Rock Stadium actually felt like a true home-field advantage. Entering the spring, all eyes want to be focused on the battle to replace Brad Kaaya at quarterback, but unfortunately very few people will get to see it.

Here was the official statement from a Miami Herald article a few weeks ago:

"The Hurricanes announced their spring football schedule on Wednesday, saying in a written release that “all spring practices will be closed to the public’’ and that “Miami will not host a spring game due to the ongoing renovations at Hard Rock Stadium.”

Everyone that has read my articles over the years knows how I always try to remain relentlessly positive when it comes to Miami Hurricanes football. I almost always defend Miami's players, coaches, and administrators, but I simply don't understand or accept this decision. There has to be another option or venue available. I have a young family and have created long-lasting memories at recent spring games with my small children. The relaxed atmosphere is fun for fans of all ages and is the perfect way to capitalize on the momentum this program clearly has right now. Without knowing the details of what options were considered, it's hard for me to go any further, but as a loyal fan I am extremely disappointed my family won't get the chance to see our team practice or play until the fall.

Miami v Wichita State Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

If you followed my picks during the 2016 college football season, just ignore those results. The CBO rated my fall performance as a failure, but I know better than the biased experts. I've got a fine-tuned college basketball picking machine up and running and I expect to win.

(11) WAKE FOREST PK vs (11) Kansas State - 9:10pm - Tonight

Kansas State has depth but doesn't have an elite scorer. Wake Forest's John Collins (First Team All-ACC) will be the best player on the floor tonight. Wake PG Bryant Crawford will be aggressive and dictate the tempo, preventing Kansas State from slowing the pace down. Wake has scored more than 80 points in 11 of its last 12 games, while Kansas State averages just 72 a game.

(16) NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL -3.5 vs (16) UC Davis - 6:40pm - Tomorrow

UC Davis beat UC Irvine 50-47 in the Big West title game on Saturday night. It was without question the worst basketball game I watched all season. NCCU was more impressive out of conference and should be able to win by 5 or more.

(11) USC -2.5 vs (11) Providence - 9:10pm - Tomorrow

USC finished 10-8 in the Pac-12, losing twice to Oregon and Arizona, but did manage to beat UCLA. USC's best player Bennie Boatwright missed a significant part of the season, but his return in February gave his team a streaky scorer capable of leading his team to a win on any given night. Providence finished the season strong, but had some brutal losses to BC, DePaul, and St John’s. Rodney Bullock is fun to watch for the Friars. USC wins a close one.

(5) NOTRE DAME -6.5 vs (12) Princeton - 12:15pm - Thursday

At first glance you might think these teams play similar styles, but Notre Dame has played more aggressive on offense this season compared to years past. Princeton has won an incredible 19 games in a row, but came up short against quality teams outside of the Ivy League early this season. I love ND PG Matt Farrell and Princeton won't have an answer for Bonzie Colson inside. Notre Dame pulls away in the second half on a few big threes by V.J. Beachem.

(5) VIRGINIA -7.5 vs (12) UNC Wilmington - 12:40pm - Thursday

UNC Wilmington wants to push the ball as much as possible, while Virginia will look to slow the game down dramatically. I expect UVA's defense to be the difference on Thursday afternoon. The Cavs allowed just 56ppg, the best in the nation. UVA PG London Perrantes struggled late in the season, but the emergence of freshman Kyle Guy as a scorer has added another dimension to the offense.

(13) WINTHROP +11 vs (4) Butler - 1:30pm - Thursday

Winthrop is a dangerous team, much better than the 13 next to its name would indicate. The Eagles are 17-2 in 2017, with both losses coming in overtime. Winthrop's senior guard Keon Johnson is just 5'7", but he averaged 22.5ppg this season. I expect this game to be close throughout.

(13) EAST TENNESSEE STATE +10 vs (4) Florida - 3:10pm - Thursday

The Gators are just 3-3 since the injury to John Egbunu and haven't looked the same. Despite having a home court advantage in Orlando, the Gators won't be able to blow out ETSU. Watch out for ETSU guard T.J. Cromer who averages 19ppg. ETSU starts four seniors and a junior and that experience will help keep this game close.

(12) MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE PK vs (5) Minnesota - 4pm - Thursday

Here is your 12-5 upset, but the odds say this game is a toss-up. Despite the Big Ten pedigree, Minnesota is actually the team that lacks experience. The Blue Raiders have key players that were a big part of the dramatic upset of Michigan State in last year's tournament. MTSU has won 10 straight games and 20 of its last 21. You'll know the name Giddy Potts, MTSU's best player, by the end of this contest.

(8) NORTHWESTERN +1 vs (9) Vanderbilt - 4:30pm - Thursday

Northwestern has finally made an NCAA Tournament and the Wildcats will make it count on Thursday afternoon. Vanderbilt finished 19-15, but still made the field thanks to three wins over Florida. I think Northwestern has more talent and trust PG Bryant McIntosh with the ball in his hands late.

(6) MARYLAND -2 vs (11) Xavier - 6:50pm - Thursday

Despite a few wins in the Big East Tournament, Xavier isn't the same without star Edmond Sumner. Xavier lost six straight games during conference play shortly after his injury. Maryland has been up and down all season, but I'm relying on Melo Trimble to take over the game in the second half. He has two talented freshmen helping him out as well, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter.

(3) FLORIDA STATE -12 vs (14) Florida Gulf Coast - 9:20pm - Thursday

I expect FSU's size and athleticism to overwhelm FGCU. The Noles are led by star freshman Jonathan Isaac and sophomore Dwayne Bacon. FSU averaged 83ppg and has depth at every position. FGCU will be a popular upset pick because of their famous run in 2013, but the Eagles match up poorly against Florida State.