The NCAA Tournament rolls on with the latter part of the true first round here on Friday. TheSportsNotebook’s daily sports look will break down today’s games by TV time slot, so you can make your viewing plans, and then we’ll close out with some thoughts on Thursday.
Albany-Duke (12:15 PM ET, CBS)
Ole Miss-Wisconsin (12:40 PM ET, tru)
Comment: I’m a Wisconsin fan, so I’m all-in on the early game. The Badger defense against Marshall Henderson, the Ole Miss guard who is either unafraid or undisciplined depending on your point of view (probably both) provides an interesting matchup.
Temple-N.C. State (1:40, TBS)
Pacific-Miami (2:10 PM ET, TNT)
Cincinnati-Creighton (2:45 PM ET, CBS)
LaSalle-Kansas State (3:10 PM ET, tru)
Comment: The best player in the country, Creighton’s Doug McDermott goes here. I think there are long-term implications on Temple-N.C. State. The winner gets Indiana on Sunday. N.C. State is good enough to beat IU, whereas I doubt Temple is. But the Owls are not underachievers, while the Wolfpack have been. That’s why I like Temple to win this game and give Indiana a bit of a break.
James Madison-Indiana (4:40 PM ET, TBS)
Colorado-Illinois (4:40 PM ET, TNT)
Comment: Pretty dry slot, so it’s a good time for commuters to be on the road coming home.
Florida Gulf Coast-Georgetown (6:50 PM ET, TBS)
Iona-Ohio State (7:15 PM ET, CBS)
Villanova-North Carolina (7:20 PM ET, TNT)
Northwestern State-Florida (7:27 PM ET, tru)
Comment: I’ve called Florida Gulf Coast as my upset pick of the first round, although I’m worried that Harvard’s win last night might have already taken that honor. The Villanova-North Carolina game is a great matchup, and its programs with some serious NCAA history. They played most recently in the 2009 Final Four. They also played a controversial game in the 2005 Sweet 16, and Carolina won a tough regional final in 1982. Villanova beat the Tar Heels in the regional final of 1985. The winner of those games (three to UNC, one to ‘Nova) all won the national championship.
Oklahoma-San Diego State (9:20 PM ET, TBS)
Iowa State-Notre Dame (9:45 PM ET, CBS)
Western Kentucky-Kansas (9:50 PM ET, TNT)
Minnesota-UCLA (9:57 PM ET, tru)
Comment: It’s nerve-wracking time for me, as Notre Dame was the dark horse I took a flyer on to get to the Final Four. And of course the definition of a darkhorse is one that can go out in the first round. Minnesota-UCLA and Oklahoma-San Diego State each promise to be good games. On the off chance that I’m right about my Florida Gulf Coast upset, the beneficiary of that would be the winner of OU-San Diego State in the second round.
LOOKING BACK ON THURSDAY
A run through all of yesterday’s finals with a brief comment on each. The games are grouped by pods, so when they’re listed without a break in between, you know the winners play each other on Saturday…
Cal 64 UNLV 61—Cal’s guards were outstanding as expected, as Allan Crabbe and Justin Cobbs combined for 32 points and controlled play. UNLV’s narrow edge on the glass wasn’t enough to compensate.
Syracuse 81 Montana 34—I’ve ready box scores for several years now and seen most statistical anomalies. I don’t think I’ve seen a team shoot 20.4% from the floor, like the Grizzlies did last night. At the very least, everyone on my Wednesday night’s men’s rec league team can know we’re not alone.
Butler 68 Bucknell 56: The Bulldogs spent most of the day on the free throw line, going 25-of-28. Bucknell, in contrast, only went 5-for-8. Pretty tough to overcome that kind of disparity at the stripe. It should be noted that Bucknell shot mostly from the perimeter, whereas Butler went inside, so we shouldn’t assume that free throw differentials only come about through bad officiating.
Marquette 59 Davidson 58: The day’s wild ending saw Marquette hit several treys down the stretch and then Vander Blue win the game on a driving layup in the final seconds. The reason MU had a chance to pull off the late comeback was that they dominated Davidson on the boards, holding a 38-23 rebound advantage.
Michigan 71 South Dakota State 56—Everyone in Ann Arbor breathes a sigh of relief. Not only do the Wolverines win, in spite of this being a trendy upset pick, but they do it without a good game from Trey Burke (2-for-12 from the floor) and slumping frosh forward Glenn Robinson III came up big with 21 points.
Virginia Commonwealth 88 Akron 42—It goes without saying the Rams dominated every statistical category. Forcing 21 turnovers while only committing five was the most obvious. The MAC’s had some notable upsets in recent years, Ohio in 2010 and 2012 coming immediately to mind. Not this time.
Louisville 74 North Carolina A&T 48—a game that went according to form. No Louisville starter played more than 25 minutes.
Colorado State 84 Missouri 72—So much for Dorian Green’s bad ankle. After missing the Mountain West tournament, the Colorado State point guard dropped in 26 points last night. Mizzou’s best player, forward Laurence Bowers, was ineffective, with 7 points/4 rebounds.
St. Louis 64 New Mexico State 44—I think St. Loo has to be a little concerned. They were outrebounded decisively, 41-30 and they’re not going to be able to make that up against better teams. For one game anyway, Dwayne Evans hit 11-of-16 shots and scored 24 points.
Oregon 68 Oklahoma State 55—I didn’t think Oregon would have the inside strength to exploit Oklahoma State’s biggest weakness. As it turns out, Arsalan Kazemi had 17 rebounds and Carlos Emory came off the bench to grab nine more. So much for that.
Michigan State 65 Valparaiso 54—Don’t be fooled by the respectable final score, this one was a blowout all the way. Michigan State led by 17 at the half, more than doubled up Valpo on the boards and held them to 35 percent shooting from the floor. Great day for Derrick Nix, with 25 points/15 rebounds.
Memphis 54 St. Mary’s 52—This was a really ugly game, with the defining ugliness being Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-for-13 shooting game for St. Mary’s, capped off by a missed three at the end.
Wichita 73 Pitt 55—This was a closer game than the score shows, with Wichita gradually pulling away. If you like the three-ball, I hope you didn’t see this live—the two teams combined to shoot 3-for-37 from behind the arc. Yes, 3-for-37. Not a typo.
Gonzaga 64 Southern 58—The Zags got everything they could handle and handed the skeptics ammo. On the positive side, Gonzaga survived a game where its opponent shot the three-ball well (10-of-23 from trey range for Southern), while the Zags key players—Kelly Olynyk up front, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell in the backcourt—all played pretty well. You either see Gonzaga as a team that survived hot shooting and one. Or a team that got decent play from its core players and still struggled to beat a 16-seed. Take your pick.
Arizona 81 Belmont 64—This was sheer domination, as Arizona controlled the game throughout. Mark Lyons knocked down 23 points from the two-guard spot to lead the Wildcats.
Harvard 68 New Mexico 62—Another NCAA disappointment from the Lobos. Their center, Alex Kirk, played well, with a 22/12 showing, but the backcourt of Kendall Williams and Tony Snell was a non-factor. Harvard hit their threes, going 8-for-18. Can they repeat Cornell’s 2010 feat of reaching the Sweet 16? We’ll look at their matchup with Arizona on Saturday morning. Or Penn’s 1979 run to the Final Four, the last Ivy league team to do it? Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.