I get it. You had too many chicken wings and one too many beers at the bar last night while screaming at the television. Now your boss keeps calling you trying to get you do respond to a customer’s emergency.
MNW: HOW ‘BOUT THEM WILDCATS
Do yourself a favor and take a break from work while preparing yourself for Friday’s games by reading previews for all 16 games today (along with their TV stations and approximate tip times). Tip times are still Central Time. There is no use complaining about it. The plans to use Central Time have been on display in the planning department.
MNW Note: And the beatings will continue until morale improves.
If you don’t feel like reading the previews, then fine. See if I care. Take a nap before the games, ignore your boss until Monday, and use this as your game thread.
Behave. Usual rules apply. Complain about the refs at your own risk. Violators must provide their own airfare to Prague.
All lines provided by ESPN on Thursday morning. Because that’s when MNW had time to do it. If you use what we write to bet, seek professional help.
#7 Michigan State Spartans (19-12) v. #10 USC Trojans (22-10)
11:15 am, CBS, Columbus | MSU -2 | O/U 137.5
The battle of the ancient armies of the Mediterranean. Tom Izzo leads Michigan State to a 25th straight NCAA tournament (a Division 1 record for a coach at one university). Sparty meets future conference mate USC in their third straight appearance under Andy Enfield. Just 22 more to go, Andy!
January, February, Izzo. Or something. Although this doesn’t appear to be one of the better Michigan State squads under Tom Izzo, they have excellent guard play and perimeter shooting. AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker are a potent 1-2 punch while Joey Hauser and Jaden Akins offer excellent shooting ability that can help stretch the opposing defense. The issue for Michigan State is that they are rather undersized at the post position. Jason Kohler isn’t ready for a big role yet, while Hauser and Mady Sissoko haven’t been able to be counted on close to the rim. This leaves Michigan State vulnerable to good rebounding teams and a cold shooting game can doom them.
The Trojans defeated Auburn and UCLA at home and that’s really the extent of their resume. USC has been a solid defense and freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu is an excellent rim protector. Iwuchukwu though has missed the last two games and will be a game time decision. USC will run a lot of their offense thru their point guard Boogie Ellis but aren’t afraid to pound it inside when they have an advantage and have three centers they can rotate in if Iwuchukwu is able to play.
MNW: This is a really interesting matchup—Kenpom has both teams in the low 40s on offense and defense, with Sparty’s slower pace and tougher SOS keeping them a little higher in the ol’ rankings.
Ellis is great, but man, that Drew Peterson cat could give Sparty a lot of trouble if his back is OK. 6’9” guard, good off the bounce, and a shooter who’s not afraid to get into the lane and mix it up, either.
Michigan State or USC?
This poll is closed
#3 Xavier Musketeers (25-9) v. #14 Kennesaw State Owls (26-8)
11:40 am, TruTV, Greensboro | Xavier -13 | O/U 154
Xavier returns to the tournament after a four year drought under current Miami-Ohio (why?) head coach Travis Steele. The Muskies face our only first time dancer in the Kennesaw State Owls.
Having watched a lot of Xavier games this season I can tell you they are a very talented offense. Graduate transfer Sooley Boum is the type of point guard fully capable of dragging his team to victories and Colby Jones, Adam Kunkel, and former Iowa Hawkeye Jack Nunge can all knock down open threes at a high clip. While the loss of Zach Freemantle to injury was a blow, Xavier hasn’t missed too much of a step since he went down. Former Hoosier Jerome Hunter has raised his game to another level as his minutes have increased. The issue for Xavier is their defense. Sean Miller is a good defensive coach, but the personnel he inherited aren’t athletic enough or strong enough to be excellent defenders. Xavier can outscore plenty of teams, but if they get into a tight one I’m not sure they can make stops.
Kennesaw State is a good three point shooting team (37.1%). While that isn’t as good as Xavier, it’s good enough that they could make a run at pulling an upset. Chris Youngblood is an excellent knock down shooter and look for him to get hot if the Owls are in it. KSU lacks height in the post though, and Xavier will look to exploit their lack of size by driving to the rim off of ball screens.
MNW: First, congrats to the Owls and Owl faithful. It’s such a great feeling, and I hope their fans make the trip up I-85 and give ‘em hell in Greensboro.
Nunge was such a good get—though I believe due to a family tragedy—for Xavier, and having a guy that big who can space you and body you is a helluva asset. That’s going to pay off big against them Fightin’ Owls, who struggled with size in losses at San Diego State and Indiana. Give them a shorter matchup and maybe there’s some fun, but I think X gon’ give it to ‘em today.
Xavier or Kennesaw State?
This poll is closed
17th century Frenchmen
#3 Baylor Bears (22-10) v. #14 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (27-7)
12:30 pm, TNT, Denver | Baylor -10.5 | O/U 143
Baylor has now made their 4th straight tournament under Scott Drew. The Gauchos (excellent team name by the way), return after a 1 year absence. In their previous appearance they lost a heartbreaker to Creighton in the 1st round.
Baylor has a very effective offense that shoots and makes a lot of threes off of good ball movement. Upperclassmen starters LJ Cryer, Flo Thamba, and Adam Flagler will look to start their campaign to win a second national championship after being on the Baylor team that won it all in 2021. The Bears defense however is their worst in over a decade. They give up too many offensive rebounds and open looks near the rim.
The Gauchos will try to slow this game down, work their offense, and get good looks close to the basket. They don’t shoot a lot of threes and are fairly neglectful of crashing the offensive boards. Despite season ending injuries to two rotation pieces, Santa Barbara was able to share the Big West regular season crown and claim the auto bid in the Big West tournament. Four senior starters means the Gauchos will leave it all on the floor, and two of them were at Santa Barbara for their close loss to Creighton in 2021 so there is tournament experience here. Cole Anderson, Miles Norris, and Calvin Wishart shoot threes above 38% while the rest of the team will mostly avoid taking long range shots to get more high percentage shots.
MNW: I just don’t see the Gauchos getting the space for those kinds of looks against a superior athletic team like the Bears. Spread the floor and pray for some hot shooting, though.
Baylor or UC Santa Barbara?
This poll is closed
#5 Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7) v. #12 Virginia Commonwealth Rams (27-7)
1 pm, TBS, Albany | SMC -4.5 | O/U 123
Ever since Gonzaga forced St. Mary’s to start scheduling a difficult non-conference slate, they’ve started making more tournaments. Take notes Rutgers. This is St. Mary’s second straight NCAA tournament appearance and the 9th of Randy Bennett’s tenure. Everyone’s least favorite former tournament Cinderella, VCU, meets them in the opening round after having to forfeit in 2021 due to COVID.
Saint Mary’s is the second slowest team in the tournament (behind only Virginia). They play a defense that runs opponents off the three point line and secure a very high percentage of their defensive rebounds. Then they get on offense and slowly look for a high quality shot. Alec Ducas and Aidan Mahaney are over 40% from three but that’s cancelled out by Logan Johnson’s sub 30%. A couple of large humans given St. Mary’s the ability to dump the ball inside when they need an easy bucket.
VCU blew their shot at an at-large bid by the end of the first week of December, but then lost only three more games the rest of the way. Former Michigan Wolverine Brandon Johns starts for the Rams and gives them a good 1-2 punch in the post with fellow starter Jalen DeLoach. The Rams surround their post players with two guards that are shooting above 40% on the season. They struggle with turnovers, but create a bunch of turnovers when on defense and generally frustrate opponents. VCU will lean on their defense, but unlike St. Mary’s they want to get out and run on fast breaks.
MNW: Wait, why is VCU not our favorite Cinderella? Is it that Sister Jean? Them Retrievers? ...OK, yeah, never mind. Point taken.
VCU is VCU, and Saint Mary’s is fucking Bennett-Ball but with an international flair. It’s going to be interesting to watch each one try to impose their pace and style on the other. I think Saint Mary’s is disciplined enough to rise above the chaos (or havoc, whatever), though, and possesses the defense to slow Johns and DeLoach.
BoilerUp89: MNW clearly does not recall who VCU beat in the Round of 32. I hold grudges.
Saint Mary’s or VCU?
This poll is closed
What is a Gael anyway?
I’m still not over VCU’s 2011 run
#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (28-6) v. #15 Vermont Catamounts (23-10)
1:45 pm, CBS, Columbus | Marquette -10.5 | O/U 144.5
So if you read the tournament history piece yesterday, you’ll know that Marquette is on shaky ground here after making the tournament for their second consecutive season to start Shaka Smart’s tenure in Milwaukee. Vermont meanwhile is still the Vermont machine.
Since losing to the Wisconsin Badgers in overtime, Marquette finished the season 22-3, winning both the Big East regular season and tournament. The team is unselfish, take care of the basketball, and move quickly to get a good look before their opponent can get set on defense. Defensively, its all about getting steals for the Golden Eagles. One issue for Marquette is their lack of experience. The team has no juniors or seniors. Will they be emotionally ready for the big stage and lights of the NCAA tournament? Will Shaka make his first Sweet 16 since his horrible, no good, very bad Final Four run?
Vermont has had plenty tournament trips, but hasn’t had a win since they beat Syracuse in 2005. The Catamounts have the country’s second longest active win streak at 15, but the America East isn’t exactly full of juggernauts. On offense, Vermont has a pretty good shooting percentage, but they are one shot and done and struggle to get to the foul line as they take a lot of threes. Defensively, they aren’t much to write home about but they do a good job of boxing out and preventing second chance points. The Catamounts top six players in their rotation are all seniors and four of them were on the roster last year when they fell four points short of their upset bid against Arkansas.
MNW: If you’re ready to dislike someone, Travis Kolek from Marquette is excited to meet you—not because he’s a bad person, but because he’s got that kind of game. Drops almost 8 assists a game, shoots nearly 40% from three, looks like he’s covering up a receded hairline...
...I digress (said the fat man on his couch).
It’s a Shaka Smart team, and they do Shaka Smart things—you’ll see the pressing D, the frantic pace...but Kolek really does facilitate an offense unlike what the Golden Eagles have had the last few years and coaches. Kam Jones will shoot it a ton, but forwards Oliver Maxence Prosper and Oso Ighodaro are going to do some work inside.
While Vermont’s got an old roster, but they’re not particularly long—I’d be surprised if Marquette pulled away in this one, but prepare to Ring Out Ahoya in Columbus.
Marquette or Vermont?
This poll is closed
Maple syrup isn’t just a Canadian thing
#6 Iowa State Cyclones (19-13) v. #11 Pittsburgh Panthers (23-11)
2:10 pm, TruTV, Greensboro | ISU -4 | O/U 131
Iowa State makes their second tournament appearance in a row and they meet the First Four winner Pittsburgh. One first four team usually makes a run. Will it be this one?
Did Fran and T.J. Otzelberger make an agreement to have completely different teams? Iowa State has a top 10 defense and an offense that we are better off not talking about. They struggle with turnovers and shooting and do not want to get into a track meet. Minnesota Gopher refugee Gabe Kalscheur is a key piece of the Cyclones offense.
Pitt survived their first four game against Mississippi State in a game that set basketball back twenty years. The Panthers have some good shooters, especially starting SG Greg Elliott so it was a little surprising they only scored 60 points against MSU. Federiko Federiko’s status for today’s game is unknown after missing their First Four game.
MNW: This game will be disgusting and you can’t make me watch it.
Iowa State or Pitt?
This poll is closed
#6 Creighton Bluejays (21-12) v. #11 NC State Wolfpack (23-10)
3 pm, TNT, Denver | Creighton -5 | O/U 148
Greg McDermott’s Creighton squad makes their third straight tournament and 11th of his career. He is still seeking his first Elite 8 and will attempt to do so against NC State and a Kevin Keatts that narrowly avoided being shown the door by grabbing one of the last bubble spots for their first Big Dance since 2018.
Creighton is a really good team that went on a long losing streak surrounding star center Ryan Kalkbrenner’s getting sick with mono. In Kalkbrenner, Creighton has one of the games best centers and they’ve surrounding him with perimeter shooters. The Bluejays only have one senior so this may just be a practice tournament run for next year if everyone else comes back. My concern with Creighton is they don’t feed their star player the ball enough. Not enough teams can guard a 7’1” guy and he’s making 74.3% of his 2 point attempts this season. Get him the ball!
Despite stumbling down the stretch in a weak ACC, NC State eked out an 11 seed. NC State beat Duke and Miami FL at home back in January and as I search their resume for other good wins, I don’t see any. A lack of experience in the tournament could see NC State come out cold and Kevin Keatts hasn’t won a game in any of his previous three tournament appearances. With just one guy over 6’9” on the roster (the rarely used Ebenezer Dowuona), NC State could struggle to matchup with Creighton’s Kalkbrenner.
MNW: Man, remember when Creighton was just going to run away with shit this year? A 6-0 start with wins over then-#21 Texas Tech and #9 Arkansas, and then...
A two-point loss to #14 Arizona. A five-point loss to #2 Texas. And the wheels came off: by 10 to Nebraska. By 3 to BYU. By 2 to Arizona State. By 11 to Marquette. While the Jays righted the ship and ripped off seven straight against the soft underbelly of the Big East, it’s a weird vibe outta Omaha.
To note: Creighton only runs five deep—foul trouble, injury, or illness, and I might be jumping off the Jaywagon. Not against a mediocre NC State, though.
Creighton or NC State?
This poll is closed
Creighton is underseeded
NC State shouldn’t be in the tournament
#4 Connecticut Huskies (25-8) v. #13 Iona Gaels (27-7)
3:30 pm, TBS, Albany | UConn -9 | O/U 141
A dangerous and under seeded Connecticut squad makes their third tournament in a row - moving to the Big East sure helped revitalize that program - and gets to face Rick Pitino’s Iona squad. This is the second time in three years that Iona has made the NCAA Tournament and they have one of the few coaches that have won it all.
The nation’s third to last team to lose a game, Connecticut started the season 14-0 before losing 5 of their next 6. Since then they’ve regained their early season form, losing close games to only Xavier, Creighton, and Marquette. Adama Sonogo and Donovan Clingan are the best 1-2 center rotation in the country this season and no opponent wants to see freshman PF Alex Karaban rising up to take an open three. The Huskies are a complete roster, with a top 20 offense and defense. Can Dan Hurley make his first Sweet 16? This will be just his 5th tournament appearance, but he’s never had a roster this talented.
Iona has the nation’s 3rd longest win streak at 14. Although the Gaels beat just one top 100 team all year (Saint Louis), they swept the MAAC championships and were competitive in almost all their games. Iona has a 7 footer to matchup with UConn’s centers but as a team that gets most of the points in the paint they could struggle to score against UConn’s length. Can Rick capture some magic for Iona before he moves on to a new job next season?
MNW: Absolutely disgusting stuff here. Compelling and gross.
UConn gets a first look at a future Georgetown or St. John’s head coach, and Pitino gets to pray that Nelly Junior Joseph and Osborn Shema can handle those bigs inside. Worth noting the Huskies limit opponents to the second-fewest threes made and just 30.2% shooting from outside; we’ll see if Gaels gunner Walter Clayton Jr. can find space.
Do you think the switch to a 30-second shot clock was triggering for Rick Pitino?
UConn or Iona?
This poll is closed
No seriously, tell me in the comments what a Gael is.
#1 Purdue Boilermakers (29-5) v. #16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (20-15)
5:50 pm, TNT, Columbus | Purdue -23 | O/U 145
Purdue enters the tournament with their first 1 seed since 1996 and the first of Matt Painter’s coaching career. Will they finally break thru to a Final Four or are they doomed to follow in Virginia’s footsteps? Fairleigh Dickinson blew out Texas Southern in Wednesday’s First Four game by shooting over 40% from three while holding Texas Southern to just 1 of 17 from behind the arc.
Purdue went undefeated in the non-con, won the Big Ten by three games, and then won the Big Ten tournament. So why does it feel like they are at risk for an early exit? Zach Edey is going to be the national player of the year and barring foul trouble he’s going to get his stats against the shortest team in the
tournament country. Will the rest of the team avoid turnovers and make some shots? Can Edey guard FDU on the perimeter? Probably, but you have to play the game.
FDU beat up Texas Southern on Wednesday. They are now up to team #300 on Kenpom. Their only win over a top 300 team this season? A 17 point win against Saint Joseph’s back on December 3. If the Knights can repeat their 40% three point shooting, get Zach Edey in foul trouble, and hold Purdue to below 6% from three like they did to Texas Southern, they can pull off the upset.
MNW: No thanks.
Purdue or FDU?
This poll is closed
#6 Kentucky Wildcats (21-11) v. #11 Providence Friars (21-11)
6:10 pm, CBS, Greensboro | UK -4 | O/U 144.5
John Calipari leads Kentucky to just their second consecutive tournament appearance. The Wildcats haven’t won a tournament game since 2019 and will face everyone’s favorite coach Ed Cooley.
Living in Cincinnati, I will occasionally hear Kentucky basketball on the radio when I’m scanning radio channels on the weekend and driving around the city. So I have to ask, how does Kentucky basketball have some of the worst radio announcers in the business?
Okay, back to the Wildcats team. UK hasn’t made the Final Four since 2015. This year’s squad doesn’t appear likely to break that streak, despite the overwhelming advantage Oscar Tschiebwe offers them on the boards. They aren’t an excellent shooting team, and outside of their games against Tennessee their defense has been porous. Former Hawkeye CJ Frederick has seen his 3 point shooting nosedive after leaving Iowa.
Ed Cooley is my favorite coach to watch. His teams are never super talented, but he out schemes and makes adjustments with the best of them. It would be great to see Providence break thru for a Final Four before Cooley hangs it up. That being said I don’t know that this is the team to do it. Bryce Hopkins and Noah Locke are good shooters, but they are going to need great nights to make up for the size disadvantage Providence has in this one.
MNW: I was coming here to say the same thing about Ed Cooley—he’s a good coach and seems like a decent dude.
What’s weird for me about Providence is how they’ve regressed a little on defense over the last few years. I don’t know if that’s the lack of height this year or what, but it doesn’t stop them on the offense boards—27th in the country ain’t bad. They turn it over and foul at a high clip, though.
Feels like Tschiebwe has a helluva day at the office, and we have to listen to more Calipari.
Kentucky or Providence?
This poll is closed
Game planner and developer
#5 Miami Florida (25-7) v. #12 Drake Bulldogs (27-7)
6:25 pm, TBS, Albany | Miami -2 | O/U 146.5
After attempting to buy a team in the transfer portal, Miami won the ACC regular season title before losing to Duke in the ACC tournament. I’m pretty sure Miami’s championship is more of an indictment of the ACC than anything else. After losing to Bradley in the regular season finale (and losing the regular season crown as a result), Drake came back to defeat Bradley in the Arch Madness championship game.
MNW: NOW we’re talking! For Kind of...’s Drake Bulldogs, just make sure you know Tucker DeVries. Or, if you don’t, you’ll probably know enough by the time the pregame show is done—6’7” guard, coach’s kid, fills the cup regularly from inside and out (nearly 7 threes a game, and 39% from deep!). He’s got a scoring partner in slasher guard Roman Penn, who facilitates the offense well but can also get to the hoop. And F Darnell Brodie was a great pickup from Seton Hall—he brings heft inside that you don’t normally get from Missouri Valley players not named Cameron Krutwig.
Drake’s one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country, they take care of the defensive glass, and they shoot free throws well. But turnovers and fouls—as well as a real drop in production when they turn to their bunch—will be an issue. I have this as a 12-over-5 upset in most of my brackets, as I think a lot of folks do, but it’s a disservice to Miami’s pack of hot-shooting guards. Take the over, and gimme the Bulldogs.
BoilerUp89: When Tucker DeVries graduates watch for Minnesota or Nebraska to hire his dad.
I’m still sad Bradley lost in Arch Madness.
Miami Florida or Drake?
This poll is closed
A Canadian music performer
#3 Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-5) v. #14 Grand Canyon Antelopes (24-11)
6:35 pm, TruTV, Denver | Zaga -15.5 | O/U 155.5
Gonzaga stumbled in WCC play twice this year and took non-conference losses to Purdue, Texas, and Baylor but remain a very talented team capable of another deep run. Bryce Drew makes his triumphant return to the NCAA tournament and will try to get his first victory in the Big Dance.
MNW: Nope. You cannot trouble me to care about this game. (I realize that’s not helpful, BU, because you asked for a preview, but man am I tired of Gonzaga and do I dislike Grand Canyon outside of their student section.)
BoilerUp89: Fine I’ll finish what I started - thank you for the two previews you wrote though, 32 in two days is at the edge of my limit and it is appreciated. Gonzaga is being overlooked a bit this season. Yeah, Gonzaga wasn’t as dominant this season as the last couple, but they’ve got some nice pieces, an explosive offense, and can matchup with anyone.
I’m not a fan of Grand Canyon - I mean how good of a school can a giant hole in the ground be? - but it has been interesting to watch Bryce Drew resurrect his career there. The airline flying GCU to Denver temporarily lost their uniforms and team gear, so GCU had to borrow some equipment for practice from Baylor. Noah Baumann and Chance McMillian are the names to watch.
Gonzaga or Grand Canyon?
This poll is closed
What happened with Bryce Drew at Vandy? I do not understand.
#8 Memphis Tigers (26-8) v. #9 Florida Atlantic Owls (31-3)
8:20 pm, TNT, Columbus | Memphis -2 | O/U 153
Penny Hardaway has made his second consecutive Big Dance with a roster of 10 seniors and 1 freshman. Memphis will try to face a 1 seed for the second consecutive year. Florida Atlantic went on a 20 game winning streak and threatened a two bid CUSA before winning the CUSA tournament. Future Hoosiers head coach Dusty May will make his first tournament appearance as a head coach.
Kendric Davis is really, really good and fully capable of carrying Memphis on a tournament run. Memphis plays fast and likes to get out in transition off of turnovers created by their pressure defense but they cannot rebound and they foul a ton. The Tigers’ biggest loss this season was by 8 as Memphis was in every game this season.
FAU is a balanced team. Their athleticism isn’t going to overwhelm you, but they shoot well, take good shots and play a disciplined defense. 7’1” Vladislav Goldin is a problem for opposing teams, while Johnell Davis, Bryan Greenlee, and Nick Boyd all shot over 39% from three on the season.
MNW: VLADISLAV GOLDIN.
Tough 8-9 matchup for both teams, who likely deserved a little better—elite defenses and very good offenses in this one, and neither team afraid to run a little bit. If FAU can get into their half-court sets and get some threes in the air, they squeak out a minor upset.
Memphis or FAU?
This poll is closed
Under seeded AAC team
Under seeded CUSA team
#3 Kansas State Wildcats (23-9) v. #14 Montana State Bobcats (25-9)
8:40 pm, CBS, Greensboro | KSU -8.5 | O/U 139.5
First year head coach Jerome Tang has taken a team picked dead last in the Big 12 preseason poll and gotten Kansas State a 3 seed in the tournament. The Wildcats will face a Bobcats squad making their second consecutive appearance in the Big Dance after they were blown out by Texas Tech last season.
MNW: The Bobcats—and amazingly-named HC Danny Sprinkle—bring a fun roster here with a LOT of size. Unless I’m conflating them with another team (Iet’s not pretend I check my facts here), you’ll see a couple sets on offense where they post up three forwards at the same time and run some really unique-looking slips, screens, and high-low action. Worth a watch.
It’s a unique bunch—forwards Raequan Battle (formerly of Washington) and Jubrile Belo and Great Osobor (both from England)—lead the ‘Cats in scoring, with G Darius Brown setting the table alongside another limey, G Caleb Fuller. Montana State rolls decently deep, but they do not shoot well from three. Instead, they’ll go to work inside, hope to draw fouls (they shot the 2nd-most and made the 8th-most FTs at the 37th-best clip in the nation), and rely on a defense that limits inside shooting.
BoilerUp89: Kansas State is the team nobody is talking about and don’t expect me to change that yet. They lost to Butler and as I enjoy telling my Butler friend, Butler was terrible this year.
Kansas State or Montana State?
This poll is closed
Can I get the Big Sky tournament announcers?
#4 Indiana Hoosiers (22-11) v. #13 Kent State Golden Flashes (28-6)
8:55 pm, TBS, Albany | Indiana -4 | O/U 140.5
Indiana will try to make it back to the second round for the first time since Tom Crean led them to the Sweet 16 in 2016. Standing in their way is a Kent State team that challenged Houston and Gonzaga early in the season.
So... Indiana. I’ve picked you guys to go to the Elite 8. Surely, you will do exactly what I’ve predicted and no other outcome is possible? Trayce Jackson-Davis is a great college basketball player and gives Indiana an incredibly high floor. That should see them thru their first two games (barring a collapse from the Hoosiers’ shooters), but how far they go after that will depend on Jalen Hood-Schifino. The freshman is absolutely capable of taking over any game, but he’s been inconsistent. The rest of the Hoosiers team provides a solid defense and most of the time knocks down enough threes.
Part of me is bitter that Toledo continues to be the bridesmaid of the MAC. But Kent State is a good team in their own right. Jalen Sullinger (nephew of Jared) and Giovanni Santiago are accomplished three point shooters but Santiago is doubtful for the first round due to a hand injury. The question for Kent State is who guards TJD? The Golden Flashes are a good defensive squad but Drew Timme scored 29 on them and TJD is better than Timme. Best bet is to double aggressively and hope the Hoosiers named Miller Kopp and Trey Galloway have off shooting nights.
MNW: IU being only 4-point favorites against a 13-seeded MAC team is objectively hilarious. The Flashes are a legitimately dangerous MAC team, though, and former Kelvin Sampson text-man Rob Senderoff has built a solid program despite the usual limits of MACtion size. They don’t do a ton glaringly well on offense but steal (9 spg) and block (4 bpg) at a good clip, avoid fouls, and take a lot of threes.
Buffkomodo: The 4 point favorite thing doesn’t bug me because most lines are that tight right now. Indiana fans have blocked out the 2001 upset game and rather fondly remember the 2002 elite 8 beating the Hoosiers laid on the Flashes. Honestly, Indiana should overpower a good but not glorious Kent State team. Where Indiana will run into trouble is when it comes up against elite offenses, which Kent State simple doesn’t have. It pays to have the best player in the pod and Indiana will win this probably by 7+.
Indiana or Kent State?
This poll is closed
Kent read, Kent write, Kent State
#6 Texas Christian Horned Frogs (21-12) v. #11 Arizona State Sun Devils (23-12)
9:05 pm, TruTV, Denver | TCU -6 | O/U 140
Jamie Dixon and TCU faces a red hot Arizona State team that crushed Nevada.
MNW: Again, gross. This is what we’re left with?
More seriously—two good defensive teams who do play at a nice clip. I didn’t see a second of Sparky throttling Nevada, but them scoring that much was certainly a surprise. TCU does not shoot the ball well from deep—indeed, they take the 33rd-fewest threes in D-I, so I guess credit them for knowing their limitations. Instead, they get to the line a decent amount, move the ball well, and collect steals and blocks at a high rate.
Jamie Dixon does have a little cloud over his head after backup C Eddie Lampkin stepped away from the team, accusing Dixon of racially-tinged abuse, though little’s come out since then.
If Arizona State pushes this one into the 70s or 80s, I think Sparky pulls it out—but neither team is terribly good shooting the ball, so we could get one of those tired-leg, neutral-site clangfests. Gimme the Frogs, but I don’t like the pick.
BoilerUp89: I don’t really know what to think of TCU. They started out well this season before finishing just 4-7 in their last 11. Two of those four wins though were against Kansas State and Texas. The Horned Frogs will want to push the pace and get transition buckets off of turnovers or leak outs off of defensive rebounds. This leaves them a bit susceptible to giving up offensive rebounds to their opponents, but they’ve mostly been able to survive that. What TCU doesn’t want to see is Arizona State shoot threes like they did Thursday because the Horned Frogs own 30.6% from three can’t keep up with that. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I saw that Lumpkin has entered the transfer portal.
Arizona State’s head coach Bobby Hurley is now 2-1 in the First Four, but in his three previous tournament appearances he was unable to make the Round of 32. Their 98 points against Nevada came out of nowhere as their previous high on the season was 91 against San Diego and the Sun Devils were much more comfortable playing in the 60s and 70s all season. Shooting over 50% from three and 70% from two will improve a lot of things, but I’m not expecting ASU to repeat that.
TCU or Arizona State?
This poll is closed
ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD
Should be two quick ones in the women’s NCAA Tournament today—Iowa and Maryland should outclass their low-major opponents—and an interesting 6/11 matchup, as Michigan faces UNLV in Baton Rouge.
 Maryland Terrapins vs.  Holy Cross Crusaders
March 17, 1:30pm, ESPNews | MD -26.5 | O/U 133.5
 Michigan Wolverines vs.  UNLV Rebels
March 17, 2pm, ESPNU | Michigan -4.5 | O/U 137.5
 Iowa Hawkeyes vs.  SE Louisiana Lions
March 17, 3pm, ESPN | Iowa -30.5 | O/U 140.5
Sometimes I feel like retrofitting the “Uncomfortable Girl in Club” meme to reflect Iowa fans telling anyone who will listen about Caitlin Clark would be apt.
Did you enjoy our Round 1 previews?
This poll is closed
I ain’t reading all that. I’m happy for u tho. Or sorry that happened
Yes, please continue when all your teams lose in Round 1
Does anyone have a hangover cure they can recommend in the comments?