The first round of the tournament kicks off tomorrow and 16 games fill the slate both Thursday and Friday. With many games having being more predictable than others I’ll go ahead and pick each game with one reason why that team will win.
1. Virginia vs 16. UMBC
Pick: Virginia. I had to look up what UMBC stands for and a 16 seed has never won and won't win this year, Virginia cruises here.
8. Creighton vs 9. Kansas State
Pick: Creighton. This one is about as much of a tossup but I give Creighton the advantage in a close one.
5. Kentucky vs. 12. Davidson
PIck: Kentucky: Dayton can hang but Kentucky is way too athletic and will win by double digits after a close first 30 minutes.
4. Arizona vs 13. Buffalo
Pick: Arizona. LIke Dayton, Buffalo will be able to stick around but they will not be able to stop Ayton and the Wildcats win this one after building a solid lead and keeping it all game.
6. Miami (FL) vs. 11. Loyola Chicago
Pick: Loyola Chicago: The first upset here, Loyola is the real deal and Miami will find that out. Loyola will take an early lead and never look back.
3. Tennessee vs. 14. Wright State
PIck: Tennessee. The Volunteers are too big and physical for Wright State. This game may be low scoring and Wright State could keep it close but Tennessee will never be in real danger.
7. Nevada vs. 10. Texas
Pick: Nevada. The Wolf Pack were stunned in their conference tournament, after looking as a lock for a 5 or 6 seed Nevada fell to the 7 spot and they will be out with a lot to prove.
2. Cincinnati vs. 15. Georgia State
Pick: Cincinnati. The Bearcats are a sleeper to make the final four and I think they come out and take care of business here. Georgia State could keep it close for the first half but the Bearcats are too good and will win by at least 10
1. Xavier vs. 16. TX State/UNCC
Pick: Xavier. A lot of people have the Musketeers making an early exit but it won't be this early, Xavier wins BIG
8. Missouri vs. 9. Florida State
Pick. Missouri. Michael Porter won't make a big impact but Missouri is still a very solid team defensively. FSU has been declining and will see an early exit.
5. Ohio State vs. 12. South Dakota State
Pick: Ohio State. SDSU will be up at half but a late push will give the Buckeyes the win in this one in a close one.
4. Gonzaga vs. 13. UNC-Greensboro
Pick: Gonzaga. Gonzaga is under the radar this year but will get the win over a good UNC-Greensboro team here. Zags by 8
6. Houston vs. 11. San Diego State
Pick: Houston. San Diego State has a good chance here but Houston has been on a roll before losing to Cincy in the American conference championship. Houston could be an Elite 8 team if they didn't have a tough 2nd and 3rd round match up.
3. Michigan vs. 14 Montana
Pick: Michigan. Michigan is one of the hottest teams after winning the Big 10 tourney and it will continue here.
7. Texas A&M vs. 10 Providence
PIck: Texas A&M. The Aggies had a rough patch in the middle of the season but have been slowly improving. This one will be a close game but Texas A&M will take the W.
2. UNC vs. 15. Lipscomb
Pick: UNC. Lipscomb is in their first tournament ever and it will not go good, the Tar Heels win their first of 4 games this tournament.
1. Villanova vs. 16 Radford
Pick: Villanova. No explanation needed here, Villanova big.
8. Virginia Tech vs. 9. Alabama
PIck. Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat Virginia this year which many teams have failed to do. Alabama has been all over the place and is very young. VT wins this one by 5.
5. West Virginia vs. 12. Murray State
Pick: West Virginia. WVU will pressure Murray State too much and the athleticism from the Mountaineers will be too much to handle. WVU by 10+.
4. Wichita State vs. 13. Marshall
Pick: Wichita State. Marshall shocked everyone by winning their conference but the Shockers are too good and will not have much trouble in this one.
6. Florida vs. 11. St. Bonaventure
Pick: Florida. The Gators have been all over the place this year but have great guard play, the gators will run into trouble when they play a team with a good inside game but it wont come in this one. Gators win in a shoot out.
3. Texas Tech vs SF Austin
Pick: Texas Tech. Texas Tech could surprise people in this tournament and a lot of people are putting them off but they will come out and win big here.
7. Arkansas vs. 10. Butler
Pick: Arkansas. The Razorbacks average over 80 points a game and will score a bunch. The NCAA is also banning live mascots in the first two rounds so Butlers Bulldog will not be there to help. Razorbacks by 6
2. Purdue vs. 15. CS Fullerton
Pick: Purdue. Purdue could be a Final Four team and will come out and win really big.
1. Kansas vs. 16. Penn
Pick: Kansas. Like I said. a 1 seed isn't going to lose to a 16 seed.
8. Seton Hall vs. 9. NC State
Pick: NC State. Another toss up NC State is 4-4 vs top 25 teams, Seton Hall is 1-4, I think NC State has had a tougher schedule that will prepare them for this game.
5. Clemson vs. 12. New Mexico State
Pick: Clemson. Clemson is not a team usually in the tournament let alone a top 5 team but this year they are the real deal, Tigers win in a close one as New Mexico State is a team to look out for.
4. Auburn vs. Charleston
Pick: Charleston. Auburn has been a big surprise story but they have struggled of late and have had some big injuries, that will hurt them here and Charleston will win their 15th game in the last 16 attempts.
6. TCU vs. Syracuse/Arizona State
Pick: Syracuse or Arizona State. It seems like every year one of the play-in teams wins a game and I think TCU is overrated at 6 and has been struggling, Syracuse would be a tough match up and if Arizona State wins they will have momentum.
3. Michigan State vs. 14. Bucknell
Pick: Michigan State. Bucknell could upset a lot of top teams this year but I don't think they could beat the Spartans. Michigan State by 8
7. Rhode Island vs. 10. Oklahoma
Pick: Rhode Island. Oklahoma has been aweful the last two months and Trey Young is looking ahead to the NBA draft. Rhode Island has something to prove after losing in the A-10 championship.
2. Duke vs. 15. Iona
Pick: Duke. Duke has been custom to upsets in the first round but it won't happen this year, Duke is too good inside.