NCAA Tournament: First Round Preview – Thursday, March 15th

As of today, the first round of the NCAA Tournament begins at 4 different sites – Pittsburgh, Wichita, Dallas and Boise. As they have been for the past 7 years, all the games will be spread throughout CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. All games can be viewed HERE at NCAA March Madness.


(10) OKLAHOMA VS (7) RHODE ISLAND (12:15 PM, CBS). The tournament action tips off today with the nation’s most prolific freshman in Trae Young, but they will be stiffly tested against a Rhode Island team that, for most of the season, had a chokehold on their A-10 competition. They finished on a sour note with 2 losses against Davidson and a blowout loss against Saint Joe’s on the way. Oklahoma also struggled mightily down the stretch – they culminated with an opening-round loss against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament.

(15) IONA VS (2) DUKE (approx. 2:45 PM, CBS). Iona has appeared in 3 straight NCAA Tournaments and drew a Duke team that has occasionally slipped up in the first round in recent years. The Gaels are probably way overmatched in this game, however.

(16) RADFORD VS (1) VILLANOVA (6:45 PM, TNT). Radford got their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory in their opening round victory against LIU-Brooklyn, but they will be fighting way out of their weight class against Villanova. However, Villanova did have a slow start in this position last year when they ultimately beat Mount St. Mary’s at this time last year.

(9) ALABAMA VS (8) VIRGINIA TECH (approx. 9:15 PM, TNT). While both teams have scored a few wins against protected seeds this year, Virginia Tech stands out with a win at Virginia and at home against North Carolina. Alabama is also coming off of a recent win in basketball’s Iron Bowl with a surprisingly easy win against Auburn in the SEC Tournament.


(14) WRIGHT STATE VS (3) TENNESSEE (12:40 PM, TruTV). This could be a potential upset with the Raiders’ inside-outside combo of Loudon Love and Grant Benzinger, but they haven’t faced as many teams with the size and defensive intensity that you would expect from a Rick Barnes-coached team so far this season. Even with their loss to Kentucky in the SEC Championship, the Vols come into this game with a share of the SEC regular-season title and a lot of momentum.

(11) LOYOLA-CHICAGO VS (6) MIAMI (approx. 3:10 PM, TruTV). This game has to be one of the most highly-picked upsets in terms of seeding. The Ramblers also sport one of the country’s best defenses and breezed through their title run in the Missouri Valley Conference this year. Miami was a one-and-done in the ACC Tournament after their loss to North Carolina.

(14) STEPHEN F. AUSTIN VS (3) TEXAS TECH (7:27 PM, TruTV). It should be a full house in Dallas tonight with this pair of in-state foes squaring off in Dallas tonight. SFA won three games in the Southland Tournament’s ladder setup, including a win against SE Louisiana in the title game. Texas Tech had a few injury issues towards the end of the regular season, but played a little better in the Big 12 Tournament before ultimately losing to West Virginia in the Big 12 semifinals.

(11) ST. BONAVENTURE VS (6) FLORIDA (approx. 9:57 PM, TruTV). However, I’d argue that the Bonnies will bring the most enthusiastic group of fans to Dallas for this subregional pod after their comeback win against UCLA on Tuesday night in the opening round. They’re going to be playing a Florida team that is among the nation’s most unpredictable teams throughout the season.


(13) UNC-GREENSBORO VS (4) GONZAGA (1:30 PM, TNT). It’s a good thing for Gonzaga that they will have a homecourt advantage of sorts with their close proximity to Spokane – this is a potentially scary opener for the Zags against a Greensboro team that is among the top defensive teams in the country. Just ask NC State and East Tennessee State how dangerous the Spartans could be. Still, Gonzaga was rarely challenged in the WCC Tournament where they blew out San Francisco and BYU in the final 2 rounds there.

(12) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE VS (5) OHIO STATE (approx. 4:00 PM, TNT). This is another potential upset special when you consider that the Jackrabbits are the more experienced team in this matchup in terms of NCAA Tournament experience. They have the best player on the floor in Mike Daum, but the Buckeyes have shattered all expectations they have had in Year 1 of the Chris Holtmann era. Will they be rusty or rested for this one?

(12) DAVIDSON VS (5) KENTUCKY (7:10 PM, CBS). This will definitely be a fun matchup to help kick off the evening games with Davidson’s high powered offense and a Kentucky team that got red-hot towards the end of the season, including an SEC Championship that included wins over Alabama and Tennessee.

(13) BUFFALO VS (4) ARIZONA (approx. 9:40 PM, CBS). Buffalo has also become a tournament regular in recent years under Bobby Hurley and Nate Oats, but they are likely overmatched against an Arizona team that had a pair of nice wins against UCLA and USC to win the Pac-12 Championship in Las Vegas last weekend.


(16) PENN VS (1) KANSAS (2:00 PM, TBS). Kansas was a team that struggled in home and quasi-home games earlier in the year, but they are just as hot as any team in the country right now. They’re coming off of a win against West Virginia in the Big 12 Championship while Penn had to come back in the Palestra against Harvard in the Ivy League championship.

(9) NC STATE VS (8) SETON HALL (approx. 4:30 PM, TBS). There is a now-or-never urgency for Seton Hall to win this game given their wealth of experienced seniors who lost in their previous 2 NCAA Tournament appearances to Gonzaga and Arkansas. However, NC State has also shown that they can knock off big boys like Duke and at North Carolina during the regular season. They haven’t always been as consistent against teams the caliber of Seton Hall, though.

(11) SAN DIEGO STATE VS (6) HOUSTON (7:20 PM, TBS). One familiar team is back in the NCAAs – San Diego State finished hot in the Mountain West with home wins against Nevada and Boise State, a blowout against Nevada in the Mountain West semifinals and a win against New Mexico to win the Mountain West title. Houston also established itself as a 3rd superpower in the American – they beat Wichita State twice and were extremely competitive (and perhaps a little unlucky) in their games against Cincinnati.

(14) MONTANA VS (3) MICHIGAN (approx. 9:50 PM, TBS). Today’s nightcap features a Michigan team that looked pretty dominant in the Big 10 Tournament where they beat Nebraska, Michigan State and Purdue along the way. Montana had a tougher time going through the Big Sky Tournament, but ultimately ended up victorious after beating Eastern Washington.

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