With the First Four concluded, the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament is set and the teams are ready to make a run at the Final Four.
In the second No.16 First Four matchup on Wednesday, Texas Southern defeated Northern Carolina Central 64-46. With the win, the Tigers became the first team ever to win a tournament game with a losing record, according to an article by the AP. Texas Southern will take on No.1 seeded Xavier Friday in Nashville.
In the final First Four game, the last team to be selected to the 68-team field made the most of their opportunity. No.11 Syracuse defeated No. 11 Arizona state 60-56. The Orange will take on No.6 seeded TCU Friday in Detroit. Syracuse has had success as a double-digit seed in the tournament, including a Final Four run in 2016 as a No.10 seed.
On Thursday, the tournament will officially get underway with a slate of 16 games. Here’s a list of predictions for each of those matchups:
- 10 Oklahoma over No.7 Rhode Island
- 3 Tennessee over No.14 Wright State
- 4 Gonzaga over UNC Greensboro
- 1 Kansas over No.16 Penn
- 2 Duke over No.15 Iona
- 11 Loyola (Chi) over No.6 Miami
- 5 Ohio State over No.12 South Dakota State
- 8 Seton Hall over No.9 NC State
- 1 Villanova over No.16 Radford
- 5 Kentucky over No.12 Davidson
- 11 San Diego St. over No.6 Houston
- 3 Texas Tech over No.14 SF Austin
- 8 Virginia Tech over No.9 Alabama
- 4 Arizona over No.13 Buffalo
- 3 Michigan over No.14 Montana
- 6 Florida over No.11 St. Bon
As far as my picks, I have three games where I’m going with the lower seed.
For Oklahoma over Rhode Island, freshman guard Trae Young has been one of the best players in the country for the Sooners averaging 27.4 points per game.
The key for Loyola Chicago upsetting Miami may be the fact that the Ramblers don’t turn the ball over all that often and can hit shots from beyond the arc. Loyola Chicago turns the ball over just 12.2 times per game and shoot almost 40 percent from three, according to ESPN stats.
For San Diego State toppling Houston, this game might just come down to experience. Houston has no players with NCAA Tournament, while the Aztecs leading scorer Malik Pope (12.9) has experience on college basketball’s biggest stage.
March Madness is finally underway, and upsets, whether they’re the ones I picked or not, are on their way.