Well, the NCAA Tournament is finally here. The First Four began tonight in Dayton, Ohio with a stellar game between Western Kentucky and Mississippi Valley St. Western Kentucky trailed by fourteen points with just over four minutes left in the game and was able to pull out the victory against Mississippi Valley St. in Dayton, Ohio. BYU and Iona have yet to play and the winner of that game will play Marquette in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. I will break down each region and get you predictions for the entire Round of 64 and give you my Final Four and National Championship before the games on Thursday and Friday.
#1 Kentucky over #16 Western Kentucky
What a nice game we have in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament with an interstate game between #1 seed Kentucky and #16 seed Western Kentucky. I think this one is a no question game. Kentucky will win this game no problem, even though Western Kentucky has been an upset king in tournaments past. I do not think we will see the same game we saw in 2009 when Western Kentucky upset Illinois in the Round of 64.
#9 UConn over #8 Iowa St.
These #8 vs #9 games are always tough to judge because of how even the talent level is of both teams. This is a perfect example with Iowa St. and UConn. I believe that UConn in this game will barely edge out Iowa St. It will be the same finish that UConn had against West Virginia in the Big East Tournament. The only things UConn needs to watch out for is foul trouble and the performance of Shabazz Napier.
#12 VCU over #5 Wichita St.
VCU is a dangerous team. Last year, VCU made a run all the way from the First Four to the Final Four after knocking off #1 seed Kansas last year. VCU showed during Champ Week that they are that same shocker they were last year by getting the automatic bid for winning their conference tournament. I think we will have a shocker here as VCU pulls out a narrow victory against Wichita St.
#4 Indiana over #13 New Mexico St.
The Indiana Hoosiers are back ladies and gentlemen. The Indiana Hoosiers this year shocked the nation as they beat Kentucky at home by one point after a buzzer beating three point shot. Indiana did lose Verdell Jones III to an ACL injury and that will hurt them in the leadership department, but the Indiana Hoosiers will still put the ball in the basket and this loss shouldn’t hurt Indiana in the Round of 64. They will look to their big men, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford, to provide the offense.
#11 Colorado over #6 UNLV
Colorado surprised me during the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. I had them easily losing to the Oregon Ducks, but they pulled out great wins against Oregon, Cal, and Arizona to get into the Big Dance. UNLV is no slouch and there are two players that need to show up for Colorado to win. They are Carlon Brown and Andre Roberson. Carlon Brown had a huge Pac-12 Conference Tournament and they will need him to play the same way if they want to upset the UNLV Rebels.
#3 Baylor over #14 South Dakota St.
The South Dakota St. Jackrabbits made a splash in their conference tournament by edging out Western Illinois for the tournament crown. Their match-up against Baylor will be a much tougher one than Western Illinois. To me, I feel the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits are weak on the inside in the paint. If Baylor can force the ball inside and master the paint, they will win this game.
#7 Notre Dame over #10 Xavier
Xavier suffered a tough Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament final as they lost to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Xavier just looked sloppy in that game. Notre Dame on the other hand is not a sloppy team, especially with their ball-handling. Notre Dame is a good ball-handling team and will use that to their advantage against Xavier. The only concern for Notre Dame is that when they cannot hit the three point shot, the game seems to go downhill.
#2 Duke over #15 Lehigh
Duke is definitely a team that lives and dies by the three point shot. All of their big game losses (especially their home loss to North Carolina) was because they did not hit most of their three point shots. They also do not have much of an inside attack. If you want to beat Duke, you need to bang the ball inside and hope Duke is terrible from beyond the arc. In my opinion, this will not hurt Duke in the Round of 64, but will be more and more exposed as they advance farther into the NCAA Tournament.