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2011 NCAA Bracket Predictions: Who Will Thrive At The St. Pete Times Forum?

With second-round games for the NCAA Tournament set to open at the St. Pete Times Forum tomorrow, there are many marquee teams coming into Tampa Bay. For those that are still trying to desperately fill out their brackets – or trying to decide which games would be working the trip to Tampa – let’s take a brief look at which teams are favored going into tomorrow.

12:15 p.m., CBS — No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson

Clemson is coming off an easy win last night, but doesn’t have much time to prepare or recover before their game tomorrow. They’re the underdogs in tomorrow’s game against West Viriginia, but not as much as you’d expect based on their seeding: WV is only favored by a 55/45 margin. This game is about as close as you’ll get to a toss up in the second round.

2:45 p.m., CBS — No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Princeton

Kentucky is the large favorite in this game, and are ranked as having around a 90% chance of moving on to the next round. They simply have a much stronger team than Princeton, and with key players Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, they should roll past Princeton without much trouble.

6:50 p.m., TBS — No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara

Not only is Florida the stronger team here, but they also get lucky and get to play their first two tournament games very close to home. Home field advantage definitely exists in the NCAA Tournament, and Florida is a huge favorite tomorrow night against UC Santa Barbara (95% chance of winning).

9:20 p.m., TBS — No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan St.

Similar to the West Virginia/Clemson game, this match figures to be a close contest between two evenly matched teams. While UCLA is the slight favorite (66% likelihood of winning), the teams are closely ranked in talent and both are playing far away from home. This should be a fun game.

Need help picking your bracket? Check out SB Nation’s full 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions, picking every game of March Madness.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.