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NCAA Tournament Thursday Games Preview and Open Thread

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The magnificent BoilerUp89 previews all 16 games of the 1st day of the tournament and provides you a game thread for your degenerate bracket gambling discussions

Baylor v Gonzaga
Let’s dance!
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

It’s the most wonderful day of the year! It’s the opening day of the tournament (sorry Hoosiers, but Tuesday’s game doesn’t count as part of the tournament). Tuesday was an NIT day. But hey! You guys do get to participate in the actual tournament too!

Since last year the organizers of this site were not responsible enough to post an open thread for Day 1 of the tournament—thus resulting in Purdue losing their opening round game—I’ve bullied my way onto the staff so that I can ensure that the good people fellow degenerates of OTE have a place to discuss the games and avoid the challenges of the modern workplace.

All times are Eastern (a majority of B1G teams in the tournament are from the Eastern time zone, so I claim Eastern time as our official time zone for the tournament. Deal with it).

Previews are all the work of BoilerUp89 unless the other “writers” get around to chiming in in which case, you should definitely follow them when making your bets and not me. After all, they all did so well in the Big Ten Tournament bracket challenge that you should clearly trust them in the NCAA tournament.

Texas A&M-CC v Texas Southern
Let’s get weird!
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Anyway, you’ve got until the first game tips off to join us in the Official OTE Bracket Pick’em Challenge:

12:15 PM [6] Colorado State Rams vs. [11] Michigan Wolverines

CBS South Region Indianapolis, IN

NCAA Basketball: Boise State at Colorado State
Go Rams!
John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan stumbled into the tournament with an 11 seed following a top 6 preseason ranking. But you already know about Michigan, their fight back towards tournament contention, and the story of how they punched their ticket to the postseason.

Colorado State is coached by Niko Medved who makes his first appearance as a head coach in the NCAA tournament. They also have the Mountain West PoTY David Roddy, a 6’5” junior forward out of Minneapolis, MN averaging 19 points, 7 rebounds, and shooting 45% from 3 on the season. Sure would be nice if Minnesota had a head coach from Minnesota who could recruit Minnesota players to stay home, wouldn’t it?

Roddy is one of 4 Rams shooting over 37% from 3 point range on more than 2 attempts/game. The bad news for the Rams is that they have just 1 guy in the rotation taller than 6’8” and only 3 guys that are 6’7” or taller. Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate should eat in the paint and on the boards.

Poll

Colorado State or Michigan?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    FIGHTING MEDVEDS
    (12 votes)
  • 50%
    FIGHTING HEAD COACH
    (12 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

12:40 PM [4] Providence Friars vs. [13] South Dakota State Jackrabbits

truTV Midwest Region Buffalo, NY

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Providence vs Creighton
Nate Watson is really good against short teams
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackrabbits are on a 21 game winning streak and haven’t lost in the year 2022 helping propel Eric Henderson up to the top of many coaching search wish lists. Like Medved, Henderson is also making his first head coaching appearance in the tournament. SDSU is the number 1 three point shooting team in the nation (44.2%), including the 4th best shooter in the nation Charlie Easley who is 50.5% on 91 attempts!

Opposite the Jackrabbits, is the only team luckier than wisconsin this season: Providence. Providence is coached by national coach of the year Ed Cooley (I honestly don’t know if he won this, but if he didn’t the voters are wrong and should feel bad) and have Purdue Pete’s long lost cousin as their mascot. Nate Watson is an underrated center (although he struggles against height) and don’t overlook the ability of Jared Bynum or AJ Reeves to carry a team either.

Poll

Friars or Jackrabbits?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    The Friar reminds me of Pete and is scary
    (10 votes)
  • 62%
    Jackrabbits are fast and got hops
    (17 votes)
27 votes total Vote Now

1:45 PM [8] Boise State Broncos vs. [9] Memphis Tigers

TNT West Region Portland, OR

NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship-Houston vs Memphis
I want you to have 5 turnovers before the first media timeout. No, wait! I meant defensive turnovers.
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State won the Mountain West tournament and their reward is a date with one of the hottest teams in America in Memphis. It looked like year 4 of the Penny Hardaway experiment might be the last, but down the stretch Memphis started playing like a top 10 team in the country. Whether that’s just because the American was terrible this year or they legitimately turned a corner nobody knows. Because spoiler alert: the American was worse than the ACC this season.

Memphis turns the ball over on 22.9% of their possessions, an astonishingly high number that is bottom 10 in the country. To counter all those lost possessions, they are the 5th best offensive rebounding team in the country giving them plenty of 2nd chances to score.

Boise State of course is one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the nation. And plays painstakingly slow resulting in limiting possessions in a game. If they can keep Memphis off the boards and limit their 2nd chance points and just let Memphis throw away possessions like normal, I like their chances.

If it comes down to a free throwing shooting competition for either team though, they are in trouble. The Broncos are just 65% as a team and Memphis is 69.2%.

Poll

Boise State or Memphis?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Ugly blue field
    (12 votes)
  • 58%
    Ugly blue court
    (17 votes)
29 votes total Vote Now

2 PM [1] Baylor Bears vs. [16] Norfolk State Spartans

TBS East Region Fort Worth, TX

NCAA Basketball: MEAC Tournament Championship-Coppin State at Norfolk State
Will the Spartans cut down the nets in New Orleans too? Probably not.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The discount Spartans lost just 6 games all year. It’s about to be 7 though, as Norfolk best win was against KenPom 178 UNC-Wilmington. My Dad got to watch them lose by 40 points in person to (not in the tournament) Xavier this year. Baylor might overlook Norfolk State for a little bit, but I don’t see any way that Sparty hangs in there. They don’t shoot a ton of threes, aren’t particularly good at it, and rely a bit too much on getting to the free throw and free throw defense. Congrats on winning the MEAC for the 2nd consecutive year though and hopefully you can keep it closer than last year’s 43 point tournament blowout.

Poll

Baylor or Norfolk State?

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    DEFENDING CHAMPS!
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    MEAC CHAMPS!
    (2 votes)
29 votes total Vote Now

2:45 PM [3] Tennessee Volunteers vs. [14] Longwood Lancers

CBS South Region Indianapolis, IN

Hercules Tire Big South Conference Tournament - Semifinals
Yes, Longwood’s mascot is a horse (fans of history may recall the Catherine the Great rumor) who is definitely high on cocaine.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Longwood has three seniors, limits possessions, and shoots the three ball pretty well (38.6% as a team). These are all components of teams that can pull off upsets. DeShaun Wade and Isaiah Wilkins can both get hot from three and both are over 40% shooters from deep. If they get going, things could get interesting.

Unfortunately, like many mid-majors Longwood has zero height on their roster. Their tallest player stands at just 6’7”. Tennessee on the other hand has five guys in their rotation that are 6’8 or taller. Despite their height, the Volunteers aren’t the greatest rebounding or offensive team. They rely heavily on their defensive prowess. But three point defense isn’t a thing you can rely on in individual games. Let’s hope Longwood can get off to a hot start and that hot start lasts the full two hours of the game.

Poll

Tennessee or Longwood?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Volunteers should have been a 2 seed
    (26 votes)
  • 23%
    LONGWOOD’S MASCOT IS A HORSE. I have no words
    (8 votes)
34 votes total Vote Now

3:10 PM [5] Iowa Hawkeyes vs. [12] Richmond Spiders

truTV Midwest Region Buffalo, NY

2022 A10 Men’s Basketball Tournament - Davidson v Richmond
That one player sure is short
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The itsy, bitsy Spiders took up the early lead. Down came Iowa threes and washed the Spiders out. Out came angry Fran and dried up all the offense. And the itsy, bitsy Spiders pulled off the upset again.

Richmond has SIX seniors - several of which came back for their COVID year to specifically play in the tournament. Facing the prospect of having to win four games in four days in a difficult A10 tournament, the Spiders did so by beating the top three A10 teams in consecutive days!

Richmond takes a lot of threes (42% of their FGAs) and takes care of the basketball by limiting turnovers. They won’t kill Iowa on the glass because they tend to concede offensive rebounds but they are a typical dangerous 12 seed.

Iowa won their first conference title (tournament or regular season) in the 12 year Franimal era! They haven’t made a Sweet 16 under him yet, but have a semi-decent shot at it this year if they can get past the Spiders.

Poll

Hawkeyes or Spiders?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Spare bird parts
    (43 votes)
  • 18%
    Cleveland’s baseball team should have rebranded as the Spiders
    (10 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

4:15 PM [1] Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. [16] Georgia State Panthers

TNT West Region Portland, OR

Syndication: News-Journal
Guys, this isn’t football. Get off the ground
Tony Giberson/tgiberson@pnj.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Panthers lack the anatomy of an upset. They can’t shoot. Their effective field goal percentage is 344th in the country. Gonzaga is also used to playing bad teams as the bottom of the WCC is filled with them. Skip this one in favor of one of the other games on TV. If the scores at the top of your screen indicate it’s close in the 2nd half, then you can always switch over for the ending.

Poll

Gonzaga or Georgia State?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Look Gonzaga was a fun underdog 25 years ago. Now they are just annoying
    (37 votes)
  • 5%
    Remember when Georgia State’s coach got hurt celebrating?
    (2 votes)
39 votes total Vote Now

4:30 PM [8] North Carolina Tar Heels vs. [9] Marquette Golden Eagles

TBS East Region Fort Worth, TX

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Creighton vs Marquette
The guy that used to haunt Purdue fans’ nightmares. Naturally the guy that replaced him at Texas now has that job.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Shaka Smart is exhibit C of what a new coach can do in year 1 (see Arizona & Iowa State for exhibits A and B). Marquette started playing defense for the first time in a long time and made the tournament. Unfortunately for wisconsinites that don’t root for the stripey skunks, Marquette made their tournament resume back in January and really stumbled down the stretch of February when they were really just holding onto their tournament berth.

Carolina meanwhile makes the tournament because the ACC was terrible (it should be noted I thought the Pac 12 was terrible last year by the way). Their claim to fame was beating massively overrated and over-ranked Duke and Michigan. While I applaud their service in beating Coach K in Coach K’s final regular season game, I like Marquette to win.

Poll

Carolina or Marquette?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Tar Heels
    (18 votes)
  • 56%
    Shaka and Havoc D
    (23 votes)
41 votes total Vote Now

We are halfway there kids! Take a quick break for food, make yourself a drink, call your bookie, or talk to your kids about why it’s important that they don’t jinx the team you are rooting for.

6:50 PM [5] UConn Huskies vs. [12] New Mexico State Aggies

TNT West Region Buffalo, NY

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Maryland at Connecticut
‘member when Maryland was a tournament quality team? I ‘member
Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

New Mexico State seems to make the tournament every other year, get a seed somewhere in the 12 to 14 range and promptly lose. They haven’t gotten to the 2nd round since 1993 when they beat 10th seeded Nebraska to help keep the Cornhuskers winless in NCAA tournament history. The Aggies like to score the ball in the paint and can struggle behind the arc.

The Huskies on the other hand like to pack the paint on defense, block a lot of shots at the rim, and crash the boards aggressively. Senior RJ Cole will look to put his stamp on UConn’s rich basketball history.

Poll

UCONN or NMST?

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    I prefer the sad husky logo
    (34 votes)
  • 24%
    I think New Mexico State is due
    (11 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now

7:10 PM [2] Kentucky Wildcats vs. [15] Saint Peter’s Peacocks

CBS East Region Indianapolis, IN

NCAA Basketball: Metro Atlantic Conference Tournament-Saint Peters vs Monmouth
Let’s Go Peacocks!
Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports

First off, it is St. P’s day on Thursday. So the Peacocks are picking a good day to play UK. Even if it’s the wrong St. P. Hopefully St. Peter can help push that snake John Calipari out of the tournament.

Secondly, the two areas that Saint Peter’s is good at offensively are three pointers and offensive rebounding. Both are huge when it comes to potentially pulling an upset. Because if Saint Peter’s can’t rebound in this game, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe could set the NCAA single season rebounding record in this one.

Finally, for all of us rooting for the upset here (if you aren’t I’m just assuming you are a wisconsin fan) Saint Peters will look to slow the game down, limit possessions, and pack the paint on defense to force UK players not named Kellan Grady to shoot threes because Kentucky isn’t a great shooting team.

Poll

UK or Saint Peter’s?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Big Blue Nation
    (29 votes)
  • 27%
    I’ve celebrating St. Patrick’s too much and can’t understand the difference between Patrick and Peter
    (11 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

7:20 PM [5] Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. [12] Indiana Hoosiers

TBS East Region Portland, OR

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four Practice
Look, Thursday is St. Patrick’s day not St. Mary’s day.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoosiers officially made the tournament! Now they will attempt to win their first tournament game since - I don’t know and I’m not looking it up. Again, Tuesday didn’t count. They get to face a comically overseeded Saint Mary’s team that would more accurately be seeded around the 8/9 line.

I’m not sure how the Gaels will stop TJD. The one thing they may have going for them is that Indiana has to travel all the across the country to Portland after Tuesday’s late night win. Honestly despite my dislike of the Hoosiers, I’m confidently picking them in this game. If I’m wrong, I still win.

Poll

Saint Marys or Indiana?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    The team that beat Gonzaga
    (31 votes)
  • 44%
    The team that beat Illinois
    (25 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now

7:27 PM [8] San Diego State Aztecs vs. [9] Creighton Bluejays

TruTV Midwest Region Fort Worth, TX

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Creighton vs Villanova
If this guy chose Purdue, y’all wouldn’t have to deal with Zach Edey.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Creighton is a few years ahead of schedule. This young roster is chock full of talent (pay attention to Kalkbrenner and Nembhard if you are scouting for your 2023 and 2024 brackets), and if they stick together they are going to be extremely dangerous the next two years. This year they are playing with house money though.

Creighton faces a dangerous, fundamentally sound, and intense defensive team in San Diego State. For a young team like Creighton, facing a team that makes their living on defense (something that doesn’t get rattled in high pressure situations) could be difficult. Meanwhile, the guy that should have been the 2022 Minnesota head coach has led San Diego State to his third tournament in five years (they also would have made the 2020 tourney).

San Diego State doesn’t attempt three point shots. The more I look at this matchup, the more I’m convinced that San Diego State’s previous tournament experience and defense first approach will transfer better than Creighton’s youth movement.

Poll

San Diego State or Creighton?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Aztecs
    (18 votes)
  • 58%
    Bluejays
    (25 votes)
43 votes total Vote Now

As we head into the last four games, remember to finish your chicken wings, tip your waitresses, and when the night is over find yourself a designated driver. We want you to all be able to enjoy Friday’s games!

9:20 PM [4] Arkansas Razorbacks vs. [13] Vermont Catamounts

TNT West Region Buffalo, NY

Syndication: The Burlington Free Press
Let’s go Vermont!
BRIAN JENKINS/For the FREE PRESS via Imagn Content Services, LLC

One of my fondest tournament memories was Vermont’s 2005 victory over Syracuse. It was the first of many upsets I had picked that year coming true as I ran away with my family’s bracket competition that season and was my best bracket until the sad 2019 tournament when I picked Virginia over Texas Tech (oh! I wish I had been wrong about Virginia making the Final 4).

This year’s Vermont squad is also talented. They take care of the basketball, limit 2nd chance points, shoot the ball well, and throttled the good puppies (UMBC) by 39 in the America East title game.

But Arkansas was an 0-3 SEC start away from competing away for the SEC regular season title. They won 14 of their final 17 games. If Vermont is going to repeat that 2005 upset, seniors Ben Shungu and Ryan Davis are going to have to make three pointers - but both are capable shooters and over 41% on the season so there is a chance.

On the other side of the court, the Razorbacks are a poor 3 point shooting team and I could easily see them shooting their way out of the field if they settle for jump shots instead of getting the ball inside.

Poll

Ark-kansas or Vermont?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Pigs
    (25 votes)
  • 43%
    VERMONT
    (19 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now

9:40 PM [7] Murray State Racers vs. [10] San Francisco Dons

CBS East Region Indianapolis, IN

Syndication: Evansville Courier and Press
Those Wacky Racers are Back!
GRACE PRITCHETT / COURIER & PRESS / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’m highly disappointed these two teams are facing each other instead of each getting the chance to take down a power conference team. Murray State has the least amount of losses in the country and hasn’t lost since my birthday way back in December. In their two games against at large teams they beat Memphis and kept it competitive against Auburn on the road. They may be an underseeded team. Oh, and the Racers only have two seniors and neither are huge contributors so they could be back next year too!

The Dons meanwhile are in the tournament because... they lost to Gonzaga and St. Mary’s twice each. I guess they do have a couple of nice non-conference wins against Davidson and UAB, but honestly looking at the resume I’m kind of confused about how they got in the tournament, let alone as a 10 seed. And remember, I love it when we get more mid majors teams and typically fall on their side in these debates. Go ahead and prove me wrong Dons! Make the Sweet 16 before falling in Triple OT. I dare you!

Poll

Murray State or San Francisco?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Racers
    (27 votes)
  • 35%
    Dons
    (15 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now

9:50 PM [4] UCLA Bruins vs. [13] Akron Zips

TBS East Region Portland, OR

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-UCLA at Gonzaga
Last time we saw UCLA in the tournament, they got over to a slow start before Mackey magic doomed Sparty to a 2nd half collapse.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

A missed opportunity by the committee here as they matched John Groce led Akron up with UCLA instead of fellow 4 seeded Illinois. I’ll be honest, I’m from Ohio, went on a campus tour of one of Kent State & Akron (my twin was considering going there and I was just on the road trip) and have no idea which school is which. I’m pretty sure we visited the one where the National Guard shot at the students. One of them gave Purdue Darrell Hazell and I also don’t know which one. Is Akron the Golden Flashes? The Zippers? I don’t know and since I dislike the eastern half of my home state, I’m not going to bother to learn. Y’all are Buckeye fans anyway.

Meanwhile, Mick Cronin was a long time Cincinnati basketball head coach and I’m very familiar with his work. Although I’m not sure they are repeating last year’s magical run, the Bruins are a dangerous team that is more than capable of doing so.

This is also the 3rd to last game of this preview (IU is 17 seconds away from making the tournament at this point) and I’m tired of pretending to care about each of these teams.

Poll

UCLA or Akron?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    John Wooden was great
    (40 votes)
  • 11%
    Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
    (5 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now

9:57 PM [1] Kansas Jayhawks vs. [16] Texas Southern Tigers

TruTV Midwest Region Fort Worth, TX

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four- Texas A&M-CC at Texas Southern
Woo! We are dancing!
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I watched Tuesday’s game between Texas Southern and Texas A&M-CC. I saw nothing that convinced me that Texas Southern can compete with Kansas - one of my two favorites to win it all this year.

Poll

Kansas or Texas Southern?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Kansas is going to win it all!
    (36 votes)
  • 12%
    Texas Southern will shock the world
    (5 votes)
41 votes total Vote Now

Enjoy, behave, and make sure to email your complaints to my editor MNWildcat! He loves getting emails from readers who are interested in improving OTE articles. As I am a robot and can’t read anything other than Binary, please do not send me your complaints unless you want to put them in Binary in the comments. In which case 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101.