Yesterday was a fun day of basketball watching, don’t get me wrong, but it lacked any real signature upsets. Let’s hope that changed today.
Middle Tennessee State “upset” Minnesota in the 12-5 matchup, even though the Blue Raiders were 1.5-point favorites in Vegas and seemingly everyone thought that the Gophers were going to fall in round one. Princeton and UNC-Wilmington threatened early on to make the day interesting, but both Notre Dame and Virginia relied on some veteran savvy to move on to the next round.
Unless you count a good 11th-seeded Xavier team beating a reeling 6th-seeded Maryland team, yesterday’s results were pretty chalk. There were some tight games (the Vanderbilt kid not knowing the score and situation. Yikes.) and some local highlights (Matt Thomas with 13 points to help lead Iowa State past Nevada, Bronson Koenig going OFF to help the Badgers prevail.) There were also a few top seeds (looking at you Villanova and Gonzaga) that may have gotten more than they bargained for, but ultimately, the bigger, better teams prevailed to fight another day.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2017
What’s in store for today? Hopefully a little more drama. Here are three games I am keeping an eye on.
3) Kansas State vs. Cincinnati: Every year, there is seemingly one team that does well in the First Four and then finds a way to win another game. After dropping 95 points on Wake Forest earlier this week, I think the 11-th seeded Wildcats could be that team.
2) SMU vs. USC: I’m very curious to see if the Mustangs are legit. They did lose to the Trojans 78-73 earlier this season, but that was back in November. SMU has won its last 16 games, and 3 of its 4 losses (including Michigan and Cincinnati) have been against tournament teams. They are hot, and have five guys (well, one a 9.9 points) that average double figures. They’re balanced and deep, and I want to see if beating USC today could start a mini run for them.
1) Oregon vs. Iona: The Ducks, even with the loss of Chris Boucher, have enough to put together a special streak here in March. Dillon Brooks is the type of player that, not to use hyperbole, can put his team on his back in a Carmelo-like fashion. Oregon has a relatively easy draw, in my opinion, but I’m curious to see how the Ducks look without their big man.