Virginia vs Gardner Webb
Not happening again.
Ole Miss vs Oklahoma
Ole Miss has lost five of their last seven and KenPom likes the Sooners more. I expect a close game with an intriguing guard matchup of Christian James and Breein Tyree.
Oklahoma has a good defense and I don’t think the Rebels will ever get it going offensively.
Wisconsin vs Oregon
This could very well likely be the lowest scoring game of the first round. Both have a good defense and I think it will be close throughout.
Oregon is playing the best basketball they’ve played all season which can’t be said for the Badgers. Payton Pritchard is an experienced leader and Vegas has Oregon as just a 1.5 point underdog.
Kansas State vs UC Irvine
I liked Kansas State all season long but they are not the same team without Dean Wade. If Wade is unable to play the upset chances grow even more.
UC Irvine is one of the hottest teams in college basketball with sixteen straight wins. KenPom has them ranked #75, higher than Temple and St. John’s, who are 11 seeds. The Anteaters have a balanced scoring attack and several good shooters. Huge upset potential in this game.
Prediction: UC Irvine
Villanova vs Saint Mary’s
Villanova has veteran leadership from Eric Paschall and Phil Booth but are a young team overall and have a bad defense.
Saint Mary’s is coming off of a huge win and they’ve got a high-powered offense. Jordan Ford is an incredible scorer and the Gaels are one of the best three point shooting teams in the country.
KenPom has Villanova barely better than Saint Mary’s, sounds like yet another upset in the South bracket.
Prediction: Saint Mary’s
Purdue vs Old Dominion
Old Dominion has a good defense and two legitimate offensive threats in B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver.
Purdue, on the other hand, is a really good team with one of the best offenses in the country. They beat good teams on a consistent basis all season and they also happen to have Carsen Edwards, a great guard who can take over a game.
The Boilermakers are a better team all around and Vegas has opened with them as a 13.5 point favorite.
Cincinnati vs Iowa
The Bearcats once again have a good defense and they’re coming into the tournament hot. They capped off a quality conference tournament run with a win over Houston in the championship.
Iowa has a great offense but a terrible defense. I see Cincinnati slowing the game down and limitting the Hawkeye offense to a poor showing.
Tennesse vs Colgate
Colgate has a good offense for a 15 seed but Tennessee is one of the best teams in the tournament and I don’t see this being a close game.
Virginia vs Oklahoma
Virginia’s guard duo of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome is fantastic and I don’t see Oklahoma slowing them down.
Their offense is much better this year leaving them far less upset prone. Also, the only teams that have beat them this year are Duke and Florida State, both uber-athletic teams. Oklahoma is not like that and I don’t see them giving Virginia too much trouble.
Oregon vs UC Irvine
UC Irvine’s Max Hazzard and Evan Leonard can both shoot the three but I don’t see them getting much going offensively on Oregon’s stingy defense. The Anteaters also don’t have anyone that can matchup well with Louis King.
I think Oregon stays hot and takes advantage of a poor offensive team.
Saint Mary’s vs Purdue
This would be a very entertaining and high scoring game. Both teams play a similar style but the Boilermakers do it better.
Jordan Ford and Carsen Edwards would be a great guard matchup and both could easily go for 30. With the defensive attention on those two, Saint Mary’s Malik Fitts and Purdue’s Ryan Cline could have big games in store as well.
Purdue has more experience against better competition and I think they pull this one out.
Cincinnati vs Tennessee
The Bearcats have decent guards but they aren’t good enough to play with Tennessee’s. Jordan Bone, Lamonte Turner, and Jordan Bowden are outstanding and I think they’ll give the Volunteers the edge.
Admiral Schofield will shut down Jarron Cumberland and I don’t think Tennessee will have any trouble scoring.
Virginia vs Oregon
Oregon’s defense will not be enough to keep them in this game. Virginia is excellent on both ends of the floor and will wear down the Ducks.
The Cavaliers are just a much, much better team and have the three best players on the court, Guy, Jerome, and De’andre Hunter.
Purdue vs Tennessee
Two great teams going at it. Tennessee’s rotation is better all the way through and they are much more experienced. They have several more strong offensive threats than Purdue and the Boilermakers don’t have the athleticism and grit to keep up with Tennessee.
The Volunteers dropped several games towards the end of the season but I think they’ll get back on track in time for a run to the Elite Eight.
Virginia vs Tennessee
Tennessee may have the advantage in the post with Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander but Virginia plays much better team defense. The Volunteers were expected to have a top-tier defense coming into the season but they’ve regressed since last year. Virginia’s defense is just as good as last year and their offense is improved.
If Virginia goes cold from three and Tennessee can dominate on the glass Tennessee could pull out a win. However, I don’t see that happening. Virginia is a great three point shooting team and as I previously mentioned the only teams that have beaten Virginia are extremely athletic teams. Tennessee is not quite athletic enough to cause a serious matchup.
I see the Cavaliers avenging last year’s upset and getting to the Final Four.