Eric Pappas here and I am here guest writing on Wingspan Sports to give you another person’s view on this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Round of 64 starts today Thursday March 16, 2017 with the first game tipping off at 12:15 on CBS.
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1 Villanova vs 16 Mount Saint Mary’s
No brainer here Villanova will make easy work of Mount Saint Mary’s not just because there the 1st overall seed but they have been crushing good competition all year so It would make sense they demolish bad competition
Prediction: Villanova 86 Mount Saint Mary’s 53
8 Wisconsin vs 9 Virginia Tech
How the committee got away with giving Wisconsin an 8 seed is blasphemy. Yeah they went cold towards the end of the regular season but still went to the Big Ten Championship and beat Minnesota twice and have a better record than them and Minnesota is a 5 seed. Blind Resume time 22-10 (11-7 ACC) and 22-10 (10-8 ACC) now here’s the reveal the first team is 5 seed Virginia and the second team is 9 seed Virginia Tech. Winning 10 games in a conference that sends 9 teams to the big dance should net you a higher seed then 9 especially with wins over Duke, Miami, Virginia and Michigan. In a close game though I think Wisconsin wins with a great game from Nigel Hayes.
Prediction: Wisconsin 67 Va Tech 63
5 Virginia vs 12 UNC Wilmington
I’m all for Virginia Bashing because as a fan of the game I love scoring and watching Tony Bennett year after year score 50-60 points a game and then win by 15 makes me want to sleep not be excited. This year’s team is different though there’s no superstar (Joe Harris, Malcolm Brogdon) to take over when they need points and they tend to really go cold. UNCW can flat out score but also are not that great on the defensive end as they regularly give up points in the 70’s. if you’re looking for your yearly 5 vs 12 upset this is not the place.
Prediction: Virginia 58 UNCW 50
4 Florida vs 13 East Tennessee State
There has been nothing great about Florida but there has also been nothing bad. They are a very good team that does everything well and besides 3 loses to Vandy which in fairness is a Tourney team they did all they had to do to be recognized as a contender. ETSU is a good scoring team but to me lacks the experience to beat a well-rounded veteran Florida team as their best win on the year is over .500 team Mississippi State by 2 which yes only lost to Florida by 5 but it was only a few games after they crushed Kentucky.
Prediction: Florida 76 ETSU 61
6 SMU vs 11 USC
SMU is a great team Semi Ojeleye is a great player but when you’re running a team that plays 6 players you’re not gonna be as good in the dog days of March. USC is the most over looked Power 5 team I’ve ever seen; Andy Enfield is a great coach with a very talented roster that likes to run expect them to tire out SMU and give us an upset in the East.
Prediction: USC 78 SMU 77
3 Baylor vs 14 New Mexico State
Good Baylor is a team the runs through Motley and Big Jo and plays an inside out game that gets them open 3’s, bad Baylor is the team that force 3’s and let’s Wainwright try and run the show but his 6 a game shows why it doesn’t work. Paul Weir has done a great job as a first-year coach leading his team, NMSU, to 28 wins but they just don’t have the team to compete with the front court Baylor has.
Prediction: Baylor 74 NM State 50
7 South Carolina vs 10 Marquette
South Carolina is not the best shooting team but they play good defense and can rebound well and hit inside shots well. What I just said about South Carolina the exact opposite is true for Marquette who basically don’t defend and try and hit as many outside shot as possible. In an intriguing match-up I think South Carolina can hold Marquette in while they just let SCAR shoot
Prediction: SCAR 74 Marquette 68
2 Duke vs 15 Troy
If you watched the ACC Tourney you know who is winning this game.
Prediction: Duke 88 Troy 60
1 Gonzaga vs 16 South Dakota State
Scroll up to the Villanova game switch the names and boom same game. Wouldn’t doubt the zags don’t give up 45.
Prediction: Zags 85 SDSU 44
8 Northwestern vs 9 Vanderbilt
While it has been great to see the story of Northwestern’s first dance they have don’t have much after Bryant McIntosh (best PG in the tournament) and Scottie Lindsay. Vandy is not a great team by any measure but they have been a team that has stepped up and played when they needed to this year and example the 3 wins over Florida and 2 in the month of March to punch the Ticket here. Expect midnight to strike early on Northwestern’s Cinderella season.
Prediction: Vandy 67 NW 60
5 Notre Dame vs 12 Princeton
Notre Dame’s Small ball offense is at times the best in the country and their pace will make Princeton feel out of rhythm and cause them to speed up. Doesn’t it always seem the IVY League team has a sick first round only to get blown out in the second well that’s not the case this year as Princeton will fight but in the end, lose to those Irish.
Prediction: ND 65 Princeton 55
4 West Virginia vs 13 Bucknell
West Virginia’s defense is absurd headlined by the patented “Press Virginia” and will cruise to the second round to avenge last year’s R64 loss
Prediction: WVU 70 Bucknell 54
6 Maryland vs 11 Xavier
Melo Trimble after a disappointing sophomore campaign is back and doing great things but the problem is when he goes cold he doesn’t have another player to go off like he has had in the last 2 years. Edmund Sumner is healthy this game doesn’t happen because at the least Xavier is a 5 seed but after he tore his ACL, the team struggled especially and relied and a win against butler to make the tourney. In a bout of Blueitt vs Trimble. I say Blueitt hits a buzzer beater jumper to win it with 28 points himself.
Prediction: Xavier 68 Maryland 67
3 Florida State vs 14 Florida Gulf Coast
Dwayne Bacon. Remember the name because if they win he had a great game and did what he had to do, but if FSU loses it’s because he was spotty shooting and lost his focus. Dunk City 2.0 is back and with more dunks than ever.
Prediction: FSU 74 FGCU 60 (wouldn’t doubt a FSU loss though)
7 St. Mary’s vs 10 VCU
St. Mary’s has been Gonzaga’s little brother in the WCC for a while and this year they had a season that would have won the WCC the last 2 years but big bro Gonzaga had to go and only lose 1 game. VCU has the team to match the outrageous hair they bring to the court and have one of the best defensive teams in the country. Look for a grueling match-up down low that ends with one team feeling screwed by foul calls in the end.
Prediction: VCU 65 St. Mary’s 61
2 Arizona vs 15 North Dakota
Gonna be a blow out Markkanen will score 20 and grab 8 boards Trier (cheater) will dominate the whole game.
Prediction: Arizona 78 North Dakota 50
1 Kansas vs 16 UC Davis
Remember when Bradley beat Kansas in the R64 who was their coach hmmm….
Prediction: Kansas a lot UCD a little
8 Miami vs 9 Michigan State
Best Match-up of the first round. Very underrated Miami team vs a Michigan State team that had loads of talent and no idea how to use it. Very close, very intense, very well coached.
Prediction: MSU 76 Miami 72
5 Iowa state vs 12 Nevada
As much as I want to make a 5 vs 12 upset this is also not the one you don’t go on an absolute tear in the Big 12 tourney and then throw a dud in the first round that would be like Clayton Kershaw suddenly turning into John Maine. The Wolfpack have had a great year but are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Prediction: Iowa State 77 Nevada 70
4 Purdue vs 13 Vermont
Purdue has a great squad and is headlined by made of a factory Caleb Swanigan who is a do it all PF. Vermont has been on a crazy run since December but Purdue is just too big for this American east team to handle and will pick up a win in a game that could get scary at moments.
Prediction: Purdue 72 Vermont 68
6 Creighton vs 11 Rhode Island
Creighton was an elite 8 contenders early in the year then tragedy struck when Maurice Watson Jr tore his ACL and the team went to shambles. Without MW2 foster has carried the burden of scoring and has struggled at times. URI played out of its mind in the A10 tourney to get a bid to the Dance and is finally fully healthy and ready to boogie.
Prediction: URI 86 Creighton 80
3 Oregon vs 14 Iona
Oregon would have been a favorite to win this region for had it not lost its best interior player Boucher to a Torn ACL in the Pac 12 Championship. Dillion Brooks still has ice in his veins though and will, will them as far as he can. Iona’s best shot is to have Jordan Washington go down low every play.
Prediction: Oregon 77 Iona 60
7 Michigan vs 10 OK state
They survived a plane crash played 4 days straight and won a Big 10 Tourney. I expect nothing less than a full court heave to win it in OT
Prediction: Michigan 74 OK state 73
2 Louisville vs 15 Jacksonville State
There are 0 weaknesses on this team when Donovan Mitchell is playing well. And what are the odds two Gamecocks are in the R32.
Prediction: L’ville 76 JSU 55
1 UNC vs 16 Texas Sothern
PSA: Marcus Paige is no longer at UNC. Other than that all you need to know is they are gonna win and they are gonna win big.
Prediction: UNC 95 Texas Southern 50
8 Arkansas vs 9 Seton Hall
Arkansas played great in the SEC tourney and turned in a above average year and have a bunch of good JUCO transfers ready for their first song of the dance. Last year Seton hall busted a lot of brackets by losing in the first round of the tourney and now they are here to lose again as Angel Delgado showed he doesn’t have it in him to win as he missed a lay-up I hit in 7th grade to lose to Villanova. (P.S. I got anyway)
Prediction: Arkansas 69 Seton Hall 68
5 Minnesota vs Middle Tennessee state
Finally the 5 vs 12 upset we’ve all been waiting for!!! Lol just kidding MTSU is a great team and probably better than last year’s but they are going against a very good and deep Minnesota team that does a lot of things well. By no means will this be a blow out but expect the gophers to win and win hard.
Prediction: Minn 62 MTSU 60
4 Butler vs 13 Winthrop
Butler is a good team but no one ever wants to talk about them. They were the second best team in a surprisingly strong Big east and play to the whistle is blown and don’t give up on plays. Winthrop is a good small school but not good enough.
Prediction: Butler 75 Winthrop 61
6 Cincinnati vs 11 Kansas State
KSU has shown all year it could win when it had too by punching their tix and winning a first 4 game but the Bearcats a ball dominate team that can hit from everywhere and pound you into submission if you let your guard down for just a second.
Prediction: Cincy 79 KSU 70
3 UCLA vs 14 Kent State
Prediction: UCLA 98 Kent state 63
7 Dayton vs Witchita State
Two top tier Mid Major Programs but for Dayton and soon to be top coaching pick Archie Miller they got screwed with the most underseeded team in the country in the shockers who always seem to shock teams and make huge runs. Expect a very fun and fast game with lots of scoring.
Prediction: WSU 86 Dayton 81
2 Kentucky vs 15 Northern Kentucky
Name a better matchup between Kentucky based teams… yeah I’ll wait. Expect a big wildcat win over the best mascot in the world the Norse and expect Malik Monk to score a lot.
Prediction: Kentucky 107 NKU 66.
For a look at different R64 predictions go check out Joe Ryan’s blog from earlier in the week.