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Game thread: NCAA Tournament - Round of 64, Day 1

The first day of a weekend-long celebration of college basketball

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Marquette vs Seton Hall Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of college basketball games today. Unfortunately, we can’t watch it knowing that St. John’s is hard at work preparing for Buffalo, due to the result last night. Regardless, as college basketball fans we can still enjoy the beauty that is the madness.

Of the games today, three stand out as must-watches.

#12 Murray State Racers (27-4, 16-2, 1st in the OVC) vs. #5 Marquette Golden Eagles (24-9, 12-6 in the Big East)

When: Thursday, March 21, 4:30 PM

TV: TBS| NCAA March Madness Online

Odds: Opened at Marquette, -4.5

Preview: If you like high scoring affairs, Murray State vs. Marquette is the match-up for you. Murray State was 11th in the country in points per game with more than 83 points per contest, and as we saw a week ago, Marquette can score in bunches.

For the NBA fans, this is also a preview of two point guards who will be drafted in June. Murray State’s Ja Morant, who has going second overall in the draft, has averaged almost 25 points per game shooting over 50% shooting from the field and almost 34% from deep.

Marquette features the better shooting point guard, Markus Howard, who has going 40th overall, averaged 25 points per game on over 42% shooting rom the field and almost 41% from beyond the arc.

Prediction: High scoring affair, but Marquette has the better supporting cast. Marquette, 85-73.

#15 Abilene Christian Wildcats (27-6, 14-4 in the Southland) vs. #2 Kentucky Wildcats (27-6, 15-3 in the SEC)

When: Thursday, March 21, 7:10 PM

TV: CBS| NCAA March Madness Online

Odds: Opened at Kentucky, -21.5

Preview: As you likely ascertained from the spread, this game should not be interesting in terms of its competitiveness, but the PJ Washington narrative is worth keeping an eye on. Washington (14.8 PPG, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 blocks) was seen in a walking boot a couple days ago, and has been ruled out for this game.

Maybe it’s the paranoia from the Virginia loss last year to UMBC, where ACC 6th Man of the Year De’Andre Hunter broke his wrist two days before Virginia became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed, but injuries this time of year matters.

Prediction: Abilene gets up early, but Kentucky wins with a score closer than expected. Kentucky, 75-63.

#10 Seton Hall Pirates (20-13, 9-9 in the Big East) vs. #7 Wofford Terriers (29-4, 18-0 in the Southern)

When: Thursday, March 21, 9:40 PM

TV: CBS| NCAA March Madness Online

Odds: Opened at Wofford, -3.5

Preview: Seton Hall’s whole season can be summed up as overcoming expectations, and being an underdog in the NCAA Tournament is another opportunity for the Pirates to exceed expectations again. However, the Pirates have made the tournament before and have lacked success. Coach Kevin Willard is 1-3 all time in the tournament with rosters that should have gone further than they did (which we can relate to, but I digress).

This team has gone and will go as far as Myles Powell will taken them, as Powell averaged almost 23 points per game on almost 45% shooting from the field and over 36% from three.

As for the favorite, they certainly score as well. Like Murray State, Wofford ranked 12th nationally with 83 points per game. The offense is carried by two-time Southern Player of the Year, senior guard Fletcher Magee who averaged over 20 points per game on over 44% shooting from the field and almost 43% from deep. Don’t be surprised if we get a poor man’s Morant-Howard match-up in this one.

Prediction: Seton Hall keeps it close thanks to Powell, but Coach Willard will start getting a reputation as a regular season coach. Wofford, 87-80.

What games will you be watching? Who did we miss?