The Ten Best Games Of The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament
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The Ten Best Games Of The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament

Brice Johnson

March Madness technically kicks off on Tuesday, but the best games will be starting on Thursday and Friday and there are some good ones (see the tournament tip-off times here).

South Region: #4 Georgetown-#13 Eastern Washington (Thursday, 9:45 p.m.)

Eastern Washington is a very dangerous team. They’re only playing 5 hours from home and they’re averaging 80.8 points per game with the countries leading scorer in Tyler Harvey. Georgetown has struggled recently in March and they’re going to have their hands full with EWU. The line opened at Georgetown -9 and has already dipped to Georgetown -7. Keep an eye on this upset special.


South Region: #5 Utah-#12 Stephen F. Austin (Thursday, 7:27 p.m.)

SF Austin runs like a well-oiled machine on offense and does a phenomenal job getting rebounds on the offensive glass. They may lack ideal height, but have a great shot at knocking off Utah, who lost 4 of their last 7 entering the tournament. Utah shoots very well at 48.5% and this could be a high scoring matchup.

East Region: #5 Northern Iowa-#12 Wyoming (Friday, 1:40 p.m.)

Wyoming rolls into the tournament quite hot and stole a potential bubble teams bid by winning the Mountain West. Larry Nance Jr. and Josh Adams make for a very underrated duo and UNI is going to need to continue to shoot lights out and Seth Tuttle to dominate like he has all of 2015.

East Region: #8 NC State-#9 LSU (Thursday, 9:20 p.m.)

The Tigers have a lot of potential but they will need to put together a complete 40 minutes in order to take down the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack won’t create a lot of turnovers and so they will need to take care of the ball to keep Johnny Jones and co. at bay.

Midwest Region: #1 Kentucky-#16 Hampton (Thursday, 9:40 p.m.)

What could be more entertaining than watching Kentucky throttle a 16 seed? It will be a good preview of the depth of Kentucky which they will need to complete the perfect season.


Midwest Region: #4 Maryland-#13 Valparaiso (Friday, 4:40 p.m.)

Maryland has been a very efficient team this year and a pleasant surprise but Valparaiso is a very good defensive team that rebounds quite well. Maryland has solid offensive punch and should be able to get past Valpo, but the Crusaders toughness will give the Terps fits.

Midwest Region: #5 West Virginia-#12 Buffalo (Friday, 2:10 p.m.)

The Bulls of Buffalo are making their first NCAA tournament appearance ever and I would expect them to want to make quite a first impression. The Mountaineers lead the country in steals and offensive rebounds, but UB likes to play fast and scores a lot of points, averaging 75.0 per game.

Midwest Region: #7 Wichita State-#10 Indiana (Friday, 2:45 p.m.)

The Shockers were upset in their conference tourney but I would look for them to get back on track against the Hoosiers. Indiana had an extremely rough season, while Wichita State is lead by Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton. Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr could be very dangerous, but I think the Shockers match up well.

West Region: #4 UNC-#13 Harvard (Thursday, 7:20 p.m.)

UNC had a solid performance in the ACC tournament but they’re facing a very hot Harvard team. Harvard squeaked into the tournament after beating Yale in a playoff game and are led by Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders. Head coach Tommy Amaker will look to have his team ready to take on Roy Williams’ squad, and the Tar Heels offense will look to take charge against the Crimson.


West Region: #7 VCU-#10 Ohio State (Thursday, 4:40 p.m.)

VCU comes into the tournament after an inconsistent season but played very well in the A-10 Conference Tournament. I would think that they are the favorites, but OSU freshman D’Angelo Russell is capable of putting the team on his back. It’s going to make for a very interesting first round matchup.

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