March Madness: Round of 64 (Two Part Series, Combined for Repost)

March Madness: Day 1 & Day 2 (Repost)

March 16, 2017

by Chase Gage

 

Today is the day. After nearly a year of waiting, the NCAA Tournament is here at last.

The 2017 NCAA Tournament tips off at 11:15 a.m. CT in Buffalo, NY as Princeton tries to earn the first upset of the year on behalf of Notre Dame. Who will be the first upset? Who moves on to the Round of 32? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Here, I will list all of today’s games while also providing my prediction (according to my bracket). As the games conclude, I will update this article with the winners in bold, whether I’m right or wrong.

 

12 Princeton vs 5 Notre Dame

Prediction: Notre Dame avoids the upset in a close game. The Fighting Irish advance. Fun Fact: They’re the only team to reach the Elite Eight in both of the last two seasons. Will they make it three in a row?

Result: Notre Dame survives a late surge by Princeton to win 60-58. Princeton missed the would-be go-ahead three with less than 10 seconds left.

Record: 1-0

 

12 UNC Wilmington vs 5 Virginia

Prediction: It didn’t take long for an upset. Virginia falls to 12th seeded UNC Wilmington.

Result: UNC Wilmington had a chance to tie with under a minute left in the game but turned it over, ultimately leading to a Virginia win, 76-71. Chris Flemmings had 18 second-half points for UNCW and put on a stunning performance in the loss. I’ve already missed a game.

Record: 1-1

 

13 Winthrop vs 4 Butler

Prediction: Butler knows how to win this time of year. They advance.

Result: Winthrop tried to make it close toward the end, but it never really was. 76-64 Bulldogs.

Record: 2-1

 

16 South Dakota State vs 1 Gonzaga

Prediction: Will a 16 seed ever win a game? Maybe, but not this one. The Zags move on.

Result: South Dakota State put up a solid first half, holding Gonzaga to only 26 points leading to a 26-22 halftime advantage for the Zags. Gonzaga proved to be too overwhelming in the second half, though, winning by 20 points, 66-46.

Record: 3-1

 

13 Bucknell vs 4 West Virginia

Prediction: In what may shake up to be a great matchup, West Virgina proves to be too much for Bucknell to handle.

Result: Bucknell cut the lead to six with just a few seconds left to make the final a little bit closer, but West Virginia was never truly in danger of losing. 86-80 final.

Record: 4-1

 

13 East Tennessee State vs 4 Florida

Prediction: The Gators are without their star big man, but they still handle ETSU rather easily.

Result: After only being up by one at halftime, the Gators dominated the second half, 47-33. Final score 80-65.

Record: 5-1

 

12 Middle Tennessee vs 5 Minnesota

Prediction: This is a popular pick for an upset, but the Gophers are solid. Minnesota advances, busting some brackets early.

Result: Well, looks like most people were right. Middle Tennessee is the first upset of the tournament. I knew a 12 would win, I just picked the wrong one.

Record: 5-2

 

9 Vanderbilt vs 8 Northwestern

Prediction: Northwestern, you’ve had a phenomenal run. Vanderbilt is hot (two wins over Florida in six days!), big (they have a couple seven-footers), and can shoot the three like no one’s business (best in the SEC). Sorry, Wildcats. Vandy moves on.

Result: Well, I should have known better than to pick against a team making their first ever tournament appearance. My fault guys. Northwestern, congrats. And for the record, the score was 68-66, so is that really a loss? Yes. Unfortunately.

Record: 5-3

 

11 Xavier vs 6 Maryland

Prediction: Xavier barely made the field, but that doesn’t stop them from advancing to the Round of 32. Sorry, Terrapins. Get back in your shells.

Result: Why did no one believe me? This wasn’t even a bold pick for me (UNC Wilmington, Vermont for example). Apparently, a lot of people had Maryland in the Sweet 16. Good thing I didn’t.

Record: 6-3

 

16 Mt. St. Mary’s vs. 1 Villanova

Prediction: Nova wins. Do I need an explanation?

Result: Mt. St. Mary’s played a great first half. They were down 30-29 going into the break before being outscored by 19 in the second half.

Record: 7-3

 

10 VCU vs 7 Saint Mary’s

Prediction: VCU is a dangerous team when they make the field. Count on them to make a run at the Sweet 16 (they won’t make it, but they’ll try). Saint Mary’s is ousted in the first round.

Result: the 7 vs 10 matchup is usually a toss-up, and I ended up on the wrong side of it. At halftime, this one looked like a blowout with Saint Mary’s holding a 46-31 advantage. VCU fought back in the second half, but it was too-little-too-late. Saint Mary’s moves on, 85-77.

Record: 7-4

 

13 Vermont vs 4 Purdue

Prediction: The Boilermakers are a solid team that has the pieces to make a solid run in the tournament. Too bad they’re going to lose to 13-seeded Vermont in the first round. How upsetting (ba dum tiss).

Result: That’s what you get when you make bold picks. How much fun would it be if I just picked the higher seed every time? None at all. You win some, you lose some. Or in my case, you win some, you lose a lot. Vermont put up a great fight. They were only down one at halftime, but the Boilermakers proved to be to much. 80-70.

Record: 7-5

 

14 Florida Gulf Coast vs 3 Florida State

Prediction: Gosh, do I love Florida Gulf Coast. DUNK CITY. They are one of the most fun teams to watch in all of basketball. Period. Too bad we only get to see them play one game. The Seminoles advance to the misfortune of us all.

Result: Well, this is a sad result. I was right, unfortunately. It looks like Dunk City won’t be making another run in the tournament after all. The Seminoles held off a late surge by the Eagles to win 86-80.

Record: 8-5

 

9 Virginia Tech vs 8 Wisconsin

Prediction: The eight versus nine matchup is always a good one to watch. The Hokies are a good team and so is Wisconsin. Neither really have much hope for a deep run, though, so this might as well be their national championship. Wisconsin celebrates before getting bounced by Nova in the second round.

Result: The Badgers earned the win thanks to a great performance by Bronson Koenig as he dropped 28 points while going 8-17 from three-point range.

Record: 9-5

 

15 North Dakota vs 2 Arizona

Prediction: The Wildcats might be the best team in the field. Mark my words (they’ll probably get upset in the first round now that I said that, kind of like last year with Michigan State). Arizona wins and will continue their winning ways for at least a few more days.

Result: This one was never really close. Hey North Dakota, at least you made it this far. 100-82, Wildcats advance.

Record: 10-5

 

12 Nevada vs 5 Iowa State

Prediction: Two solid teams that have the potential to make a run to the Sweet 16 or even deeper. Nevada is one of the most popular upset picks in the first round. In what will likely be the matchup of the day, the Cyclones advance past the Wolfpack en route to a deep tournament run.

Result: The Cyclones came out firing on all cylinders. The Wolf Pack tried to make a comeback in the second half, but came up short. Iowa State moves on, 84-73.

Record: 11-5

 

What are your thoughts on the games today? Did I pick the right upsets, or am I just stupid (that’s probably it)? When I get all 16 games right will I be a genius or just lucky? I guess we’ll find out. Leave your thoughts below in the comments and make sure to check back for results as well as predictions for the rest of the tournament.



(Part 2)

 

The first day has come and gone. I miss it already. It was an exciting first day of the tournament. Will the second day be as good, or even better?

If you tuned in yesterday for my picks you will know that I was perfect on the day. Well, actually I was 11-5. But that’s close enough, right?

Anyway, I’m here today to right my wrongs. Here are my picks for today. Like yesterday, I will provide updates with the winner being bolded once games conclude. Let the madness continue.

 

10 Oklahoma State vs 7 Michigan

Prediction: It’s a shame that these teams play each other in the first round. Both are capable of making a legitimate run, but only one will have the chance to. I’m riding with the red-hot Wolverines to advance. Keep your eyes on them. Elite Eight..?

Result: The Wolverines pulled out the victory by the skin of their teeth. Michigan moves on after their 92-91 victory over the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.

Record: 12-5

 

14 New Mexico State vs 3 Baylor

Prediction: The Bears are good enough that this game shouldn’t be close. I could be wrong, but don’t count on it. Baylor advances.

Result: New Mexico State held a 40-38 advantage at the half, but the Bears warmed up after the break. Baylor won the game 91-73.

Record: 13-5

 

9 Seton Hall vs 8 Arkansas

Prediction: The Hogs are HOT. They may have lost to Kentucky in the SEC Championship, but that’s Kentucky. Seton Hall put up a fight against Villanova in the Big East Tournament, so they are no joke. Seton Hall will make this a competitive game, but the Razorbacks advance to face North Carolina (unless they lose to a 16-seed).

Fun Fact: The last two times the Razorbacks made it to the tournament (2008, 2015) they won their first-round game before being beaten in the second round…by North Carolina (108-77 vs 1 UNC in 2008 as a 9-seed, 87-78 vs 4 UNC as a 5-seed).

Result: Thanks to a late surge, the Hogs advance. Be on the lookout for a full review of the game soon. Kingsley led the way with 23 points en route to a 77-71 victory.

Record: 14-5

 

14 Iona vs 3 Oregon

Prediction: The Ducks lost their star to a season-ending injury. That may keep them from making a deep run, but they do not stutter in the opening round. Oregon moves on.

Result: Iona showed some fight in the first half, but ultimately came up (way) short. Oregon wins 93-77.

Record: 15-5

 

15 Jacksonville State vs 2 Louisville

Prediction: There have been several occasions where a 15-seed has beaten a 2-seed (Michigan State lost to Middle Tennessee last year, remember?). This is not one of those occasions. The Cardinals move on.

Result: Louisville held only an eight-point lead at the half, but took care of business after the break. The Cardinals move on to the next round, 78-63.

Record: 16-5

 

11 USC vs 6 SMU

Prediction: The Trojans barely made the cut, but they survived the First Four to make the field of 64. SMU is fresh off of a conference tournament championship. This may be a great matchup, but I see SMU pulling off the victory.

Result: USC only led for a total of little more than one minute of this game and they got the victory. In one of the craziest endings yet, USC hit a three to take a one-point lead with only 36 seconds remaining before sending SMU to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. The Mustangs missed the front end and USC got the rebound. They were fouled immediately and awarded their own one-and-one opportunity. They missed the first as well. SMU grabbed the board, pushed the ball down the floor and missed the would-be-game-winner at the buzzer. The Trojans advance 66-65.

Record:  16-6

 

16 Texas Southern vs 1 North Carolina

Prediction: Being a Razorback fan (sorry, showing some bias. Get over it), I am rooting for this to be the first ever 16-seed to win a game. It won’t be, though. Tar Heels run away with this one.

Result: What a close game. The only question in this one was just how much North Carolina was going to win by (it was by 39).

Record: 17-6

 

11 Rhode Island vs 6 Creighton

Prediction: Creighton is a solid team that you can usually count on this time of year. Rhode Island hasn’t played this long into March in quite some time (1999 was their last tournament appearance). However, the Rams are hot. They have won eight-in-a-row while the Bluejays have posted a record of only 8-7 since their starting point guard went down for the season. Rhode Island advances. They’re not done yet.

Result: The Rams keep their streak alive, this time at the expense of the Jayhawks from Creighton. You can’t help but think how much differently Creighton’s season may have been if it had not been for Maurice Watson’s season-ending injury. They were 17-1 when he went down. Rhode Island moves on for the first time since 1998.

Record: 18-6

 

16 UC Davis vs 1 Kansas

Prediction: UC Davis becomes the first 16-seed to beat a one-seed. Nah, just kidding. The Jayhawks move on with ease.

Result: Hey, the Jayhawks won.

Record: 19-6

 

10 Wichita State vs 7 Dayton

Prediction: This might be a great matchup. Two mid-majors that seem to play their best ball in March face off in the first round. Wichita State is considered to be seeded much lower than they deserve, with many seeing them as a threat to the (likely) two-seed that they would face if they move on. They do just that by knocking out the Flyers of Dayton.

Result: This was one of the best games of day two. Wichita State pulled it out in the end and will move on.

Record: 20-6

 

15 Troy vs 2 Duke

Prediction: Troy shocked the world (well, the Southeast maybe) by winning the Sun Belt Tournament over the likes of UT Arlington, Georgia State and Arkansas State to make an appearance in the Big Dance. Duke is the hottest team in college basketball. Period. Sorry, Trojans. Just be glad you got this far.

Result: Troy gave it their all, but Duke proved to be too much for the Trojans to handle. Duke came out firing on all cylinders, playing as if this were an Elite Eight game. The Blue Devils advance.

Record: 21-6

 

11 Kansas State vs 6 Cincinnati

Prediction: Kansas State had to beat Wake Forest just to get here. Cincinnati is fresh off of an AAC Championship loss to SMU. Ride the hot hand, maybe? Each year since the First Four was established, at least one team that played in it has advanced past the first round. Will this be the team to do it this year? No. Sorry. The Bearcats prevail.

Result: Cincinnati silenced all the doubters with their overwhelming victory over Kansas State. They may be a team to watch out for in the next round.

Record: 22-6

 

9 Michigan State vs 8 Miami

Prediction: Sparty is hard to beat in March. Coach Izzo is one of the best in the league. Miami is a solid team that could make some noise against the (likely) one-seed that they would face if they can win. But they won’t. Michigan State rolls on and makes it past the first round this year (shots fired. That’s for busting my bracket last year).

Result: This one made me nervous. When Sparty went down 12 in the first half, it looked like they would be bounced in the first round for the second time in as many years. They dominated the rest of the game, though, and ended up winning by 20.

Record: 23-6

 

15 N. Kentucky vs 2 Kentucky

Prediction: Who is the best team in Kentucky? Is it the Wildcats or the…Norse? Is that Northern Kentucky’s nickname? Anyway, this is obviously a trick question. It’s Louisville (or is it?). All joking aside, Kentucky wins this one and claims the title of “Best Team With Kentucky in Their Name” or something like that.

Result: Poor Northern Kentucky. They went from never losing an NCAA Tournament game to never winning one (it was their first appearance). Kentucky rolls on with relative ease to no one’s surprise.

Record: 24-6

 

10 Marquette vs 7 South Carolina

Prediction: There was some speculation as to whether Marquette would fall on the right side of the bubble up until the field was announced. They made it in and they will face an ice-cold (in a bad way) South Carolina team. The Gamecocks have lost six of their last nine games, including a loss in their opening game of the SEC Tournament. The Golden Eagles take this one.

Result: This one was close until South Carolina pulled away in the home stretch. I slept on the Gamecocks and they made me pay. They advance in dominating fashion, 93-73.

Record: 24-7

 

14 Kent State vs 3 UCLA

Prediction: Is Lonzo Ball the best player in college basketball? (Better question: Could his dad really have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime like he claims?) I guess we will have to wait and see. If UCLA beats Kent State…well actually that won’t change anyone’s mind. If they lose, however, it might. Good thing the Bruins win and move on to the next round. Watch out for UCLA to make a deep run.

Result: This one was never really that close after the opening tip. UCLA powers through and advances to the Round of 32.

Record: 25-7

 

Hopefully, I will improve my prediction record to 27-5 today. If not, that’s what the Round of 32 is for, right? Check back throughout the tournament for the best darn analysis you’ll find on the internet.

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