Congrats to Harvard for winning its very first NCAA Tournament game. - USA TODAY Sports
My bracket is in pain.
Sometimes the stats don't measure a lack of heart or explosiveness. Pittsburgh, picked as an 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, laid the egg of all eggs, getting slapped by 18 points by Wichita State. Gregg Marshall's team is good, but that game was never close. Stopping Tray Woodall was the key, and Wichita State held him to 2 points and 5 turnovers.
Enjoy the ACC, Panthers.
12:15 #15 Albany (24-10) vs #2 Duke (27-5) Philadelphia, PA CBS
Want to see Duke in an exhibition game? Here's your chance. Duke's size and shooting should overwhelm the Great Danes. Someone told me once that Duke has never gotten past the Sweet Sixteen as a 2-seed; I don't care enough to research this. It's Duke, after all.
12:40 #12 Mississippi (26-8) vs #5 Wisconsin (23-11) Kansas City, MO TRU TV
The Marshall Henderson show is great for quotes, and rolls against the excellent Wisconsin defense. I kind of expect someone like Frank Kaminsky to put Henderson on his tail after a shot. The Badgers are good at defense but have been a little hit-and-miss with the scoring. Look for the effectiveness of Jared Berggren as a barometer.
1:40 #9 Temple (23-9) vs #8 NC State (24-10) Dayton, OH TBS
Khalif Wyatt and crew seem to find themselves in defense-optional shootouts at Temple. North Carolina State does much the same. This could be a spectacularly fun basketball game. The Wolfpack has a lot of size, and there will be dunks. (C.J Leslie will make you go oooh.) Scott Wood shoots from the outside like a boss and will earn NC State some separation.
2:10 #15 Pacific (22-12) vs #2 Miami (27-6) Austin, TX TNT
Pacific is short, plays a big rotation, is experienced, and has shooters. Miami is big, plays a short rotation, is experienced (and old for their school years, to boot) and has backcourt scorers in Shane Larkin and Durand Scott. Too much talent for Miami to lose. We think. This is their first NCAA Tournament in five years.
2:45 #10 Cincinnati (22-11) vs #7 Creighton (27-7) Philadelphia, PA CBS
I am sorry that CBS is subjecting general humanity to Cincinnati's offense. If Creighton battles, some forward (former Rutgers big man Gregory Echenique, perhaps) will pick up a career high in defensive rebounds. Ethan Wragge and Grant Gibbs will need t find open spaces for shots in support of Creighton star Doug McDermott. Despite Cincy's proclivity for missing shots, Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick can get hot, and their defense is very good, very frustrating, and doesn't depend on turnovers.
3:10 #13 LaSalle (22-9) vs #4 Kansas State (27-7) Kansas City, MO TRU TV
Kansas State wants to force turnovers. LaSalle's four-guard lineup is tough on teams that want to force turnovers. This could be a fun, quick game.
4:10 #16 James Madison (21-14) vs #1 Indiana (27-6) Dayton, OH TBS
James Madison has a versatile lineup of players between 6'4" and 6'6". Indiana has Victor Oladipo at 6'5" and agile height in Cody Zeller and Christian Watford, who are going to use James Madison for a highlight reel.
4:40 #10 Colorado (21-11) vs #7 Illinois (22-12) Austin, TX TNT
Tad Boyle's a good coach with smart players, including Andre Roberson, who sat out some games with mono. But they are fairly youthful, and face and Illinois team that can shoot threes all day long. Brandon Paul and Tyler Griffey are matchup problems; this game could go either way.
6:50 #15 Florida Gulf Coast (24-10) vs #2 Georgetown (25-6) Philadelphia, PA TBS
The Hoyas are strong and composed, good at getting back on defense. The FGCU Eagles are well-coached and played Duke, Iowa State, and St. John's close this season with passer Brett Comer and shot creator Sherwood Brown - plus a roster a players unafraid to shoot the three. The matchups will keep them in the game, but the Hoyas can make a strong statement tonight with Otto Porter taking the big shots... and will.
7:15 #15 Iona (20-13) vs #2 Ohio State (26-7) Dayton, OH CBS
Iona plays questionable defense as they get up and down the court. But they have tough, high-level players in Lamont Jones, David Laury, Sean Armand, and the speedy Tavon Sledge. Ohio State is adept at shooting mid-range jump shots and defending; Deshaun Thomas and Sam Thompson will create some excitement, given the open space.
7:20 #9 Villanova (20-13) vs #8 North Carolina (24-10) Kansas City, MO TNT
I can't tell you how this game is going to go at all. Villanova is going against a team that doesn't foul; Villanova does more of their scoring at the foul line than any other team in the country. Can UNC keep JayVaughn Pinkston and crafty head-faking guards like Darrun Hilliard off the free throw line? Can P.J. Hairston hit bug shots wile James Michael McAdoo reminds people why some thought he'd be a lottery pick?
7:27 #14 Northwestern State (LA) (23-8) vs #3 Florida (26-7) Austin, TX TRU TV
Florida has been dominant. But have they been dominant against bad competition? Is that bad competition possibly overrated, to boot? Northwestern State's Jalan West and DeQuan Hicks may not be enough to test Kenny Boynton, Patric Young, and Eric Murphy, but you never know.
9:20 #10 Oklahoma (20-11) vs #7 San Diego State (22-10) Philadelphia, PA TBS
Oklahoma uses their size to keep opponents outside the paint. Romero Osby is a solid man, and has sizeable backup. SDSU uses their quickness and lack of height to defend. Red Storm fans get to see a few minutes of Dwayne Polee II in his second NCAA Tournament game - the first was with St. John's two years ago. Jamaal Franklin creates shots for SDSU.
9:45 #10 Iowa State (22-11) vs #7 Notre Dame (25-9) Dayton, OH CBS
Shootout possibilities are high as Fred Hoiberg's group - including Melvin Ejim, guard Chris Babb, and former Michigan State guard Korie Lucious face Jack Cooley and the shooting quartet of Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins, Cameron Biedscheid, and Pat Connaughton. But Iowa State wants to run (which they can on Notre Dame). I'd pick Iowa State in this one.
9:50 #16 Western Kentucky (20-15) vs #1 Kansas (29-5) Kansas City, MO TNT
Fun note: Western Kentucky has had four three-game losing streaks. Western Kentucky will want to take a lot of threes to keep up with the Jayhawks. Fun note: Kansas will crush them.
9:57 #11 Minnesota (20-12) vs #6 UCLA (25-9) Austin, TX TRU TV
UCLA is already picked as the underdog. But this will be a tough, well-coached, hard fought game to end the day's action. Minnesota has active bigs in Trevor Mbakwwe and Rodney Williams, good passing, and strong fundamentals against UCLA's tall frontline of David/ Travis Wear and Kyle Anderson. Can Larry Drew and Shabazz Muhammad generate enough points for UCLA to win?