NCAA Tournament: Key First-Round Games

Chris IrvinCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2008

After Selection Sunday revealed the first-round matchups for March Madness, what games should you watch for?

Here's the scoop... 


Duke vs. Belmont

You wouldn't think that a No. 2 seed's first-round game would be anything exciting—but with Duke's skid to end the regular season, this game could be a thriller. 

Belmont has played some strong basketball this season en route to a 25-8 record.  But the Bruins haven't really played too many good basketball teams this year. 

If Duke can go back to the way they played ball early in the season, the Blue Devils will take some momentum out of the first round.


Purdue vs. Baylor

11th-seeded Baylor has played highly-ranked teams in some very good contests but have come up short, losing to Kansas by 10 and Texas by eight and five. 

Purdue has beaten Wisconsin twice and Michigan State.  They also played a tough game against Indiana. 

I think that if Baylor can learn to win in important games, they can steal this game from Purdue. 


USC vs. Kansas State

Kansas State, who beat Kansas earlier in the year before losing to them in the second matchup, has a very strong chance to take this game.  This will be a stunning first round matchup:  Two teams led by fantastic freshman, and a whole season on the line. 

This game could also decide who enters the NBA draft. 

The outcome will turn on who puts their team on their back and leads them into the second round.  USC, who played good games with Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, and Stanford, will be looking to make the push led by O.J. Mayo.  But I think that Michael Beasley will will show why he's in contention for Player of the Year and give Kansas State the first-round win.