If Tuesday night was an indication of what's to come for the rest of March, we better buckle up. An under .500 MEAC school, the Hampton Pirates, shocked Manhattan while Ole Miss and BYU was an offensive explosion as the teams combined to score 184 points.
And Wednesday night things gets even more intriguing as North Florida makes their first NCAA Tournament appearance while Dayton hosts Derrick Marks and Boise State on their home floor.
How/Where to watch:
6:40 pm ET TruTV North Florida vs. Robert Morris (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb, Evan Washburn), followed by 9:10 pm ET TruTV Boise State vs. Dayton (Eagle, Gottlieb, and Washburn).
Preview: 16. North Florida (A-Sun Automatic Bid) vs. 16. Robert Morris (NEC Automatic Bid)
The Ospreys are playing in their first ever NCAA Tournament and it's a bit surprising that they are playing in the First Four especially after knocking off Purdue in West Lafayette during the non-conference portion of their schedule. They handled the Atlantic Sun tournament with ease (beating Ty Greene and USC Upstate in the final at home) and they have a special player in Dallas Moore (averaging 15.9 points per game and shooting 49 percent from the field).
North Florida is 25th in the nation in scoring and they are very efficient, 39th in the country in field goal percentage, but how will they handle the big stage against a team that has played in big games over the last couple of years?
Andrew Toole and the Colonials have been a relevant mid-major as of late after defeating Kentucky and St. John's in the NIT in back to back years. Toole will be coaching in his first NCAA Tournament but his squad showed poise and toughness in the NEC Final at St. Francis Brooklyn (a team that has never made the Big Dance) so there is no doubt they will be ready to play. Rodney Pryor, the leading scorer for Robert Morris, shoots the three well and creates a strong defensive energy that puts the team ranked 13th in the country in steals per game.
Preview: 11. Boise State (MWC At-Large) vs. 11. Dayton (A-10 At-Large)
If you have never seen Derrick Marks play you might want to check this game out. After losing their second leading scorer, Anthony Drmic, for the season due to injury, the Broncos lost four straight games before Marks and James Webb III started to take over, leading them to a regular season conference title. Marks is averaging a team high 19.3 points per game (49 percent from the field) while Webb is averaging a team high of 7.9 rebounds per game. The Broncos can really light it and they play solid defense as they are giving up only 60.3 points per game, which is good for 35th in the nation.
Archie Miller and the Flyers will get the home court advantage in this match-up and they may be able to use their "small ball" style to strike a weakness in Boise State. The Flyers don't have a rotation player (they play only seven guys) that stands above 6' 6" and they use their lineup to create mismatches all over the floor.
The other positive to note is that Jordan Sibert, Kendall Pollard, Dyshawn Pierre and Scoochie Smith all played major minutes last year during the team's run to the Elite Eight.