NCAA March Madness: First Round Games, Day One

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NCAA March Madness: First Round Games, Day One

With March Madness only a day away, here are my picks for the first round, day one.  It's nearly impossible for a perfect bracket, so enjoy.  Look for later rounds to follow.

Midwest

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Lehigh

No #1 team has lost in the first round.  Nothing changes here with top-ranked Kansas.  Expect a 40-point blow out.  

No. 9 Northern Iowa over No. 8 UNLV

Hardly an upset, I'm going with the Panthers here because of size and experience.  Both teams play a slow, half-court style, and UNI gets the advantage thanks to their 7-footer Jordan Eglseder.  He is a menace defensively and will be tough to go through for the penetration-happy Rebels.  Ranking No. 13 in defensive efficiency, the Panthers should not give up many second-chance points and should go on to win.

No. 6 Tennessee over No. 11 San Diego State

One of the most intriguing match-ups in this region, this could shape up to be a battle over the boards.  This may be the most fun game to watch because both teams like to attack the basket.  The Vols' pressure defense should allow them to pull out the victory with buckets in transition and if they can hit from the charity stripe.

No. 3 Georgetown over No. 14 Ohio

The Hoyas shouldn't have any problems advancing against a much undersized Bobcats squad.  Efficiency on both ends of the floor aren't too good either.


West

No. 12 UTEP over No. 5 Butler

A popular No. 12 over No. 5 pick this year as UTEP look to end Butler's current 20-game win streak.  UTEP will look to get out fast and run against the Bulldogs led by Derrick Character, who transferred from Louisville. 

A stiff defense that limits opponents to less than 45 percent from the field will also keep Butler's Gordon Hayward in check.  The Bulldogs may find themselves in foul trouble, and that's never good for Matt Howard.  Look for the Miners to pull out victorious in an entertaining upset.

No. 13 Murray State over No. 4 Vanderbilt

A gutsy pick, and Murray St can pull the upset with their aggressive style of play.  Vandy will struggle to make it past the 1st round if they continue their struggles on defense, and a poor rebounding team spells an early exit.  Look for the racers to get out fast run with outstanding guard Isaiah Canaan and push for fast transition points.  Murray State will win this race and keep dancing in a thriller.   

No. 7 BYU over No. 10 Florida

As one of the last teams in, look for Florida to be one of the first teams out.  Inexperience and slumping as of late are not good indicators for a Florida team to make it past a strong Cougars team.  BYU ranks among the top-25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Cougars will end their streak of 1st round losses and advance.

No. 2 Kansas State over No. 15 North Texas

No scare from a No. 15 seed here.  K-State is one of the best teams in the tournament and guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente will ease their way into round two.


East

No. 1 Kentucky over No. 16 East Tennessee State

Justin Tubbs and Micah Williams will have a difficult time shooting against the Wildcats John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.  History writes this one as Kentucky will win handily.  

No. 8 Texas over No. 9 Wake Forest

Both teams are coming in to the game on losing streaks and disappointments.  Both teams have something to prove to the national audience, and the Longhorns have much more to impress.  From a No. 1 ranking to out of the polls, Damion James and his Longhorns won't go home early.  With a favorable matchup, this game should be fun to watch with Wake Forest going home early.

No. 11 Washington over No. 6 Marquette

Fast guards usually prevail over size in the early round games, but the Huskies have a good balance with Isaiah Thomas running the point and versatile senior Quincy Pondexter. With an up-tempo style of play and playing in a familiar area in San Jose, the Huskies should look to pull the upset and advance.

No. 3 New Mexico over No. 14 Montana

The Lobos should have no problem beating another mid-major foe in Montana.  Montana made a great run culminating in a come-from-behind victory over the favorite Weber State.  There will be no such run in this tournament because of Darington Hobson leading the charge of offensive firepower the Lobos have.  With next to no air-time, New Mexico will be out to show the country how explosive they really are.


South

No. 6 Notre Dame over No. 11 Old Dominion

Notre Dame may be the hottest team with wins over tough opponents entering the tournament.  Without their star Luke Harangody, they managed to upset Georgetown on the road and Pitt at home.  They also got a win at Marquette with Harangody getting limited playing time.  The inside game of Gerald Lee will not be enough if Old Dominion cannot hit from three.  Look for the Irish to continue their hot streak with a win over ODU. 

No. 3 Baylor over #14 Sam Houston

The Bears' excellent balance of guards and big man are deadly and could make a run at the Final Four.  Their first big test will come in the next round if the Irish advance. 

No. 7 Richmond over No. 10 St. Mary's

Another tough year of leaving the dance early for the Gaels.  In Providence, Richmond's guards led by David Gonzalvez will be too much.  Guard play is important in advancing to the later rounds, and the Spiders have excellent perimeter play. 

Despite an upset over conference favorite Gonzaga, St. Mary's didn't have a tough schedule, and Richmond is also coming in with momentum beating Xavier to play in their conference championship against Temple.  

No. 2 Villanova over No. 15 Robert Morris

Robert Morris did an excellent job winning their conference once again, but Nova's guards are one of the best in the country and should have no hurdle advancing.

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