With the field and seedings set for the NCAA Tournament, the Big Dance begins. 68 teams will play by the end of Thursday night and by Sunday night the field will be cut to 16. March Madness tends to be the most exciting part of the basketball season and previous years have not disappointing. Cinderella teams rise to the occasion while favorites can collapse under the pressure. What games are you most excited for? Lets take a look at a few you should be watching.
12 NC State vs 12 Xavier
Tuesday night on TruTV at 9:10 EDT the Wolfpack and the Musketeers will meet up for one of the four Play-in games that are technically the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. NC State comes into the game on a streak of winning four of their last five games, including a win against Syracuse and close game against Duke. Xavier comes in struggling a bit as they have lost three of their last five. Two of the loses have come to ranked teams, but the losses may have taken a toll on their confidence. Xavier may have the advantage of the fan base, but this may not be enough to overcome the confidence and play of the hungry NC State.
Winner: NC State
11 Tennessee vs 11 Iowa
Wednesday night on TruTV at 9:10 EDT the Volunteers will face off against the Hawkeyes. Tennessee is coming in brimming with confidence after winning five of their last six games and taking top ranked Florida to the wire. They are playing some of their best ball and look to make a run in the post season. Iowa is limping into the post season as they have lost three in a row and six of their last seven. Their confidence is shot, but they are thrilled to be playing on. Tennessee may be a team that will make some noise in the first weekend of the tournament, but will need to get past Iowa first.
11 Dayton vs 6 Ohio State
On Thursday on CBS at 12:15 pm EDT, the Flyers will take on the Buckeyes in Buffalo, NY. Dayton comes into the game confident as they have won four of their last five games, including a win at ranked Saint Louis. With only two losses over the last 12 games, the Flyers were able to avoid the play-in games and advance directly to the second round. Ohio State has played a slew of close games and have played 50/50 ball over the last six games. They have played close games while winning three of the last four, but it will be interesting to see how their confidence grows after playing Michigan to the buzzer. The question is which Buckeye team will show up, the one that beat Michigan State or the one that lost to Penn State twice.
Winner: Ohio State
12 SF Austin vs 5 VCU
Friday night on TruTV at 7:27 pm EDT the Lumberjacks will face off against the Rams. SF Austin is looking to be the perennial 12-seed to advance in the tournament. They come in on a 27-game win streak and most of those wins have not been close. Virginia Commonwealth come having played a much tougher schedule, but are still playing some great basketball as well. They lost in the Atlantic 10 Championship game, but it is their only loss in their last seven games. This game should be close and so I am calling it now that the Lumberjacks will advance.
Winner: SF Austin
Local Interest Games:
10 BYU vs 7 Oregon
On Thursday afternoon on TruTV at 3:10 pm EDT the Cougars will take on the Ducks in a rematch from December. When the teams last met, the Cougars and Ducks went into overtime before the home Ducks took the game and left the Cougars wondering what could have been. The Cougars are now playing some of their best ball, but are short one of their key players in Kyle Collinsworth. The Cougars have won six of their last eight and 10 of 12, but have yet to play without Collinsworth. Oregon comes in winning eight of their last ten with wins against UCLA and Arizona. They also come in after a frustrating 19 point loss to the Bruins. Even with revenge on their mind, the Cougars are going to have a rough go of it as they look to replace KC. Look for a further breakdown of this game on Thursday.
9 Oklahoma State vs 8 Gonzaga
Friday on TNT at 4:40 EDT the Cowboys will face the Bulldogs in San Diego. Oklahoma State comes into the game winning five of their last seven with a win and a loss to Kansas. Gonzaga comes into the game winning five of seven as well but on a five game win steak, including a win in the WCC championship game against BYU. This should be a good game that may come down to the crowd. Gonzaga tends to travel well, so if they can get their fans to the game, they could come out on top of this one.
16 Weber State vs 1 Arizona
Friday afternoon at 2:10 pm EDT on TNT the two Wildcats will face off. This is a classic 16 vs 1 match-up that matches over-matched teams. Weber State may have received a bad draw with this game, but they will fight to prove that they belong. Arizona will not overlook the Wildcats and will be trying to make a statement to the field and should come out of this one easily.
Local Teams in the NIT:
5 Utah vs 4 Saint Mary's
Tuesday night on ESPN2 at 11 pm EDT the Utes and Gaels will play in the NIT. With the improved Utah team the game could go either way, however the lack of road wins makes it hard to pick them over anyone right now. They took steps to play better the last couple weeks but still only ended with two road wins on the year. I think the home court will win it for the Gaels.
Winner: Saint Mary's
7 Utah Valley vs 2 California
Wednesday at 10:30 pm EDT on ESPN3 the Wolverines will take on the Bears. Utah Valley is looking to make up for their loss in the WAC Tournament but will have a tough go as they visit a better Cal team on their home court. Don't look for an upset here.
With all the Tournaments in action this week, what games did we miss? What will you be watching?