Tuesday, March 14th
#84 Hofstra Pride at #36 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 6 pm, ESPNU
MaximumSam: Rutgers doesn’t get to the Big Dance, but they do get to make more subs in the RAC. They welcome the Pride, who might remind you a bit of Penn State. They have a couple guards who will burn the nets in Aaron Estrada and Tyler Thomas. They make no effort to get offensive rebounds or get to the line. Rutgers beat the Nits both times they played, so hopefully they can keep the good times going against the Knock Off Nits.
#87 Toledo Rockets at #47 Michigan Wolverines, 6 pm, ESPN2
MaximumSam: The Wolverines get their fourth MAC team of the year. The first three were adventures, an 88-83 win over Eastern Michigan, an overtime win over Ohio, and a nut busting loss to Central Michigan. The Rockets won the MAC, though lost in the tourney to Kent State, sending them here. They are led by the wonderfully named point guard RayJ Dennis, who averages 20 points and 6 assists. They also beat Central Michigan twice by a combined 59 points. The Wolverines better get ready.
#85 Bradley Braves at #74 Wisconsin Badgers, 8:30 pm, ESPN
MaximumSam: Wisconsin welcomes in the pride of the Missouri Valley, the Bradley Braves. Like Wisconsin, they specialize in defense and are hit or miss offensively. Also like Wisconsin, they are led by a Pale Assassin, this time 6’9’’ Rienk Mast, who goes for 14 points and 8 boards. They play slow, they defend, and sometimes they make shots. A real barn burner on tap tonight.
NCAA First Four
More important than the NIT games are the Dayton play in games.
#16 Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (19-16) v. #16 Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders (23-10)
5:40 pm, Dayton, TruTV
BoilerUp89: Texas A&M-CC is coached by former Purdue assistant Steve Lutz and they have been sent to Dayton two years in a row. Unfortunately for the Islanders they lost Southland defensive player of the year Terrion Murdix and his 13.4 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds during the Southland championship game. That will make tonight an uphill battle as the Islanders weren't a good defensive team even with Murdix on the floor. They do have enough other 3 point shooters and experience playing in the First Four that they might be able to outscore the Redhawks.
The Redhawks navigated a tricky OVC tournament as the 5 seed to make their first NCAA appearance since 2000. They play fast and try to live at the free throw line. Sophomore PG Phillip Russell is small at 5'10" but dishes out assists and will be involved on most of SEMO's possessions. This is third year head coach Brad Korn's first tournament appearance. SEMO ranks 3rd lowest among the NCAA field on KenPom.
#11 Pittsburgh Panthers (22-11) v. #11 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-12)
8:10 pm, Dayton, TruTV
BoilerUp89: Two teams that beat out Rutgers for the final spots in the tournament.
Pitt is arguably the worst at large team in the field according to advanced metrics. Their offense is pretty effective but their defense is similar to Iowas. 6'11" center Federiko Federiko is extremely efficient and a fan favorite but Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson will take most of the shot attempts. This is the Panthers first tournament appearance under Jeff Capel and first since Jamie Dixon was coaching them back in 2016.
Mississippi State is the polar opposite of Pitt. Their offense is horrible, headlined by a 26.6 three point percentage but their defense is among the best in the country. The Bulldogs want to slow the game down, limit possessions, and hope that their shooting percentage doesn't come into play. It's a team led by upperclassmen and first year head coach Chris Jans has been here before making the Round of 32 at New Mexico State just last year. For Bulldogs fans, this is their team's first appearance since 2019.