March Madness is in full display as Day one is officially in the books, but day two looks to be just as good, if not better. The East Region looks to be the region of parity, as there are a lot of teams capable of winning this region, while most first-round games look to be fun and competitive. Let’s dive into these first-round games.
5.Colorado vs. 12.Georgetown
12:15 PM ET on CBS
The Georgetown Hoyas are back in the NCAA Tournament after a Big East Tournament run where they won their first league Championship in the Patrick Ewing era. The Hoyas have used an interesting group of freshmen, veterans, and transfers to get to this point, they mostly will look for good guard play and paint dominance by Qudus Wahab. As for Colorado, McKinley Wright IV is in his first-ever NCAA Tournament. The veteran floor-general will look for his teammates’ help, in order to get by the Hoyas. The Buffaloes have a major advantage at the guard spot, while the Hoyas have a major advantage upfront, meaning whichever team controls their style of play should get the win, I’m rolling with the red-hot Hoyas to win a very close game and continue their recent run of success.
Prediction: Georgetown 73 Colorado 68
4.Florida State vs 13.UNC Greensboro
12:45 PM ET on TruTV
Length and athleticism is the name of the game for the Seminoles as they are known for using their size advantage to guide them towards NCAA Tournament success. The players to know are Raiquan Gray, MJ Walker, and freshman star Scottie Barnes, but the team can beat you with other guys. Isaiah Miller is the go-to guy for the Spartans of UNCG, Miller is an athletic guard that can score at will. UNCG wins games through defensive intensity and aggressiveness, so theoretically they should match up well with a team missing a true-point guard. That said, we see this every year with Florida State, they out-athlete smaller school teams and win playing their style.
Prediction: Florida State 78 UNC Greensboro 70
1.Michigan vs. 16.Texas Southern
2 PM ET on CBS
Michigan dominated the regular-season thanks to great team basketball and little weaknesses. Hunter Dickinson is dominant inside, Franz Wagner is an elite two-way wing, while Mike Smith and Eli Brooks run the point. The major loss is Isaiah Livers, who is an elite 3-and-D player that opens up the offense. Texas Southern picked up a nice win against Mount Saint Mary’s. Michael Weathers and John Walker III lead a very talented group. The Wolverines Isaiah Livers issues will likely play out in a later round but at the end of the day, they just have too much of a talent advantage.
Prediction: Michigan 76 Texas Southern 55
8.LSU vs. 9.Saint Bonaventure
1:45 PM ET on TNT
The Tigers are fresh off a deep run to the SEC Championship Game, where they lost heartbreakingly to Alabama. This team has offense for days with Cam Thomas, Trendon Watford, and Javonte Smart, they also aren’t really that good defensively, which is why they lose a lot of games. The Atlantic 10 Champion Bonnies are the exact opposite, they are a really tough, defensive-minded team that wins on the defensive end of the court. The Bonnies have four guards that can score the basketball, mixed with Defensive stopper Osun Osunniyi, who mans the middle. A lot of people are riding with LSU because they’re hot but I’m not buying that, the Bonnies will play containment defense, while LSU’s poor defense will come back to bite them.
Prediction: Saint Bonaventure 74 LSU 70
2.Alabama vs. 15.Iona
4 PM ET on TBS
The Alabama Crimson Tide are SEC champions, yes this is in basketball. Nate Oats and the Tide’s elite defense and their analytically-based offense have been a tough team to beat. Herb Jones is the do-everything player, while John Petty, Jaden Shackelford, and Jahvon Quinerly lead the Tide offensively. Meanwhile tricky Rick Pitino is back in the NCAA Tournament at his new spot. The Gaels are gritty defensively, while Isaiah Ross has blossomed into a superstar. While I do think Iona will not be beaten coaching and skillset-wise, Alabama just has better athletes, better shooters, and a better basketball team, I’m Rolling with the Tide.
Prediction: Alabama 82 Iona 64
7.Uconn vs. 10.Maryland
7:10 PM ET on CBS
Here we go again, Uconn has had a lackluster regular season but thanks to a superstar, they are ready to make a run, where have we heard this before. While James Bouknight probably isn’t Kemba Walker, he is a freak athlete and great scorer, so look out, especially given he has a team that is built perfectly around him. As for Maryland, the Terrapins are a gritty team, Darryl Morsell is the Big Ten defensive player of the year, while Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala are solid offensively as well. This is a game that is destined to go down to the wire, which is exactly where you would want to trust a Uconn guard like James Bouknight to win them the game.
Prediction: Uconn 67 Maryland 63
6.BYU vs. 11.UCLA
9:40 PM ET on CBS
West Coast, best coach, we have a battle of two of the best from West of the Rocky Mountains. BYU has become a consistent threat to have March Success thanks to Alex Barcello and a collection of great role players that play well in their roles. Matt Haarms protects the paint, Brandon Averette, Caleb Lohner, and Gideon George all can have their big night. UCLA has dealt with injuries and departures leading to this team being on the bubble, but Jaime Jaquez, Johnny Juzang, and Tyger Campbell are all capable of carrying this team on an individual night. I think this should be a relatively even matchup, BYU has the advantage at the point and center, UCLA has an advantage on the wing. I’m rolling with a fully rested BYU team that should win this matchup and advance in the Tournament.
Prediction: BYU 76 UCLA 69
3.Texas vs. 14.Abilene Christian
9:50 PM ET on TruTV
Texas is back. The Longhorns have won their first-ever Big 12 Championship and they are three seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Matt Coleman, Andrew Jones, and Courtney Ramey lead a three-headed guard monster, while Kai Jones, Greg Brown, and Jericho Sims make up the most athletic frontcourt. For Abilene Christian, they win their games because of depth and toughness, they tend to get a lot of points from their defensive and other teams’ mistakes. The key to this matchup will be Coleman and Ramey, if they can get the ball inside to their dominant frontcourt, Texas could win by 30, if not this has ACU hanging around as a 14 seed all over it, I think Abilene Christian will lead for the majority of the first half but at the end of the day, Texas’ talent will lead them to a win.
Prediction: Texas 76 Abilene Christian 65