It is a big day. Some are off of work. Most of us ain't, and secretly are jealous of you. Every year I tell myself I will take off of work to watch the NCAA tournament first couple of days, and every year I find a way to put myself in a position where I just cannot do it.
Anyhow, I will be checking in here pretty much all day today, and I hope we can get a decent group here going. I want to hear about which teams you've got, what teams you want to win, what your bracket looks like, and all of that!
Below is a quick blurb for each game, with my predicted winner bolded. All times are central time.
You might also ask yourself which games Gus Johnson is doing? Well, he's not doing any today. My man Kevin Harlan is doing the first two TNT games, and the last two truTV games today. Gus will be doing 4 games on Friday in the Cleveland pod following the same schedule as Harlan.
11:15am, CBS: #12 Clemson vs. #5 West Virginia -> Both teams play a below average pace. Clemson is a Top 10 defense, while WVU has the #32 offense. These teams are dead even, and is a coin flip game in my opinion. I'm going with WVU because they are the 6th best offensive rebounding team, and do a better job managing turnovers.
11:40am, truTV: #9 Old Dominion vs. #8 Butler -> Butler is back in the dance, but are not on the same level as last year's team. They face the #1 offensive rebounding team in the land in Old Dominion. Butler has a more efficient offense, is a Top 20 team in fewest turnovers, and the 11th best defensive rebounding team in the land. It's going to be all about whether Old Dominion gets offensive boards, or if Butler can take them away. In a slow, grind-it-out game, I will go with the team that crashes the boards better and has a slightly better defense.
12:40pm, TBS: #13 Morehead State vs. #4 Louisville -> The stats say it all. Louisville has the 5th best defense, 39th best offense, and Morehead State is one of the worst in committing turnovers. Louisville rolls.
1:10pm, TNT: #10 Penn State vs. #7 Temple -> Penn State is only in this because they had a great run in the Big 10 tournament. They were hot last week, which means they are going to be cold this week.
1:45pm, CBS: #13 Princeton vs. #4 Kentucky -> Kentucky was seeded too low in my opinion. They are heads and shoulders better than Princeton. I would be surprised if the margin was less than 15.
2:10pm, truTV: #16 UNC Asheville vs. #1 Pittsburgh -> It was nice getting to see Asheville win a game in the "First Four".
3:10pm, TBS: #12 Richmond vs. #5 Vanderbilt -> Richmond is an outside shooting team that defends the perimeter. Vanderbilt is the same way. I like Richmond as they do not commit as many turnovers as Vanderbilt, and the teams are a push in many other categories. Vanderbilt wins if Richmond is cold though; Richmond is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the field.
3:40pm, TNT: #15 Northern Colorado vs. #2 San Diego State -> Northern Colorado is a good story, but so is San Diego State... And they also have better players.
Preview of Evening Games After The Jump!
5:30pm, TBS: #15 UCSB vs. #2 Florida -> UCSB went .500 in Big West play. They should just be happy to be here.
6:15pm, CBS: #14 Wofford vs. #3 BYU -> BYU has been playing like you-know-what in games where Jimmer doesn't drop 50, and because of that, Wofford winning here would not shock me to be honest. If Wofford can put in a game plan to slow down Jimmer, then they have a shot, but from looking at the teams, Jimmer could drop 40 here.
6:20pm, TNT: #14 Bucknell vs. #3 UConn -> UConn has the trifecta of scoring ability, good offensive rebounding, and low turnovers committed. The only thing to worry about, is Bucknell is the 7th best three point shooting team in the nation. When you can shoot threes at a 40% clip, you can beat anybody on the right day.
6:27pm, truTV: #13 Belmont vs. #4 Wisconsin -> Wisconsin plays the slowest pace in the nation, but slowing it down fits Belmont I think. Belmont has the 19th most efficient defense, and the 8th best eFG% in the nation. Wisconsin is known for playing good defense, but they actually aren't that great of a defensive team this year, allowing an opponent eFG% of 48%.
8:20pm, TBS: #10 Michigan State vs. #7 UCLA -> When you think of a matchup between these two schools, you usually think of a Final Four matchup or something like that, not a 7-10 game. But it is, what it is. Stats be damned, it's never smart to bet against Izzo. Ever.
8:45pm, CBS: #11 Gonzaga vs. #6 St. John's -> Another coin flip game. I'm sure a lot of people have St. John's winning and making a run, after what they did in the Big East, but that was a month ago. I just think Gonzaga is playing better than St. John's right now.
8:50pm, TNT: #11 Missouri vs. #6 Cincinnati -> Missouri had 2 wins outside of Columbia. 1 against Iowa State (won by 6), and 1 against Texas Tech at the Big 12 tournament (won by 4). Cincinnati is better than either of those teams, and the game is not being played in Columbia.
8:57pm, truTV: #12 Utah State. vs. #5 Kansas State -> Kansas State turns the ball over on 21.8% of possessions and commits a ton of fouls. That is not the way to play against a team like Utah State that likes to slow it down, and is pretty good at making free throws. I think Kansas State was seeded too high, and Utah State was seeded too low. This feels more like an 8-9 or a 7-10 team here.
CrossCyed's Take: I agree with Mark on most games. Only differences are I have Wisconsin, Mizzou and Kansas State. Show the Big 12 some love! My TV pick? Gonzaga/St John's. Love or hate Lavin, I think he's going down.