Round 1 is a very good lineup -- and a very difficult slate of game to pick. I'll save the official picks for later in the week but a few thoughts:


Fairmont State vs. Mercyhurst -- This is the 4/5 game nobody saw coming -- mainly because most didn't think Fairmont deserved the 5 seed. One thing for certain is it will be near culture shock for the Falcons to see the Lakers' vaunted triangle and two zone. Statistically, Mercyhurst is one of the best defensive teams in the country -- giving up just over 60 ppg for the season. Mercyhurst plays an extremely physical style of basketball and really frustrates opponents. It's going to be difficult for FSU to deal with this weekend. The Lakers aren't a big team in the height department but they have a lot of muscle down low. Having seen Fairmont in person the Falcons are going to have a difficult time with Patrick Smith under the basket. For FSU to win this game it will have to push, push and push the the pace. It's extremely difficult to speed Mercyhurst up but that's there only chance. The Lakers will turn this in to a slop-fest.


Notre Dame vs. Virginia State -- Very tough assignment here for No. 3 VSU. Notre Dame enters the game sky-high after winning the MEC title. VSU is an extremely athletic, deep and fast team. They also have some big boys who can help to slow down Will Vorhees. That said, I think Vorhees has a good match-up in this game.

East Stroudsburg vs. West Liberty -- Forty minutes of pressure vs forty minutes of pressure. ESU got real frustrated in its loss to Mercyhurst -- not uncommon. Unfortunately, that resulted in an extremely costly technical foul. The Warriors have to do a much better job of keeping their cool against a WL team that will cause them all sorts of problems. ESU's Ryan Smith has to (and should) have a huge game against the much smaller Hilltopper post. This should be, perhaps, the most entertaining game of the day. Don't blink. You'll miss 12 points. ESU certainly isn't an easy assignment on Day 1. ESU can put up a big number in this game. Can it be bigger than the one WL will put up?

West Chester vs. IUP -- Last week doesn't mean a thing. That game is long gone. Dante Lombardi won't look like Stephen Curry again this Saturday. Tim Toro won't resemble Karl Malone, either. In Round 2 West Chester sold out on Cobo Diaz. In turn, Lombardi smoked them from all over the floor. It will be a tough environment for the Rams -- likely much worse than it was this past Saturday. The KCAC at night is a daunting task for visitors. West Chester is certainly capable of winning this game. Keep that in mind.