For some people, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the most exciting sporting event of the year. Sixty-eight teams from across the country are fighting it over three weeks until only one remains and confetti pours.
For most fans, the unpredictable early rounds are the most compelling. Everyone has a favorite number 12 seed over a number 5 seed, or a 13-over-4 upset, and after the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Virginia stunned in 2018, there is even a precedent for ‘ a 16th seed that has a 1.
Here are six potential disruptions in the first round:
12 Winthrop over number 5 Villanova
Jay Wright has led Villanova to two of the last four NCAA championships and is a Hall of Fame finalist this year, but his current team looks ripe for a stir.
Villanova lost senior points guard Collin Gillespie to a season-ending knee injury, and fell to Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, having won the previous three titles.
The Big South’s regular season and tournament champion, Winthrop, is 23-1 and is led by senior point guard Chandler Vaudrin, who leads the country in triple doubles and who described ESPN’s Jay Bilas as’ Collin Gillespie’s at 6-7 and left-handed ”with“ wonderful feeling and great vision. ”
Winthrop likes to adjust the pace: they scored 80 plus points in all three Big South tournament games, forcing more than 20 percent of possession on the opponent.
Can the Eagles force a Gillespie-less Villanova to make enough revenue to win the game?
Keep in mind that the 12th seeded 50-90 (.357) has historically been against the fifth seeded, with three wins the last time the tournament was played.
No. 12 Georgetown Over No. 5 Colorado
It’s a trendy upset because the Hoyas (13-12) looked great to win four games in four days to win the Big East tournament last week in Madison Square Garden. Georgetown was last selected in the 11-team Big East, but beat Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall and Creighton strongly to win the title. Now it is one of four Big East teams in the tournament.
The length and height of the Hoyas – led by 6-foot-11 second-year Qudus Wahab (12.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game) – made it difficult for opponents to score. The Hoyas kept Creighton up 48 points in the Big East tournament, Marquette at 49 and Seton Hall at 58. Villanova, who beat the best, lost 72-71.
Colorado (22-8) is an excellent team on both sides. The Buffaloes are led by experienced senior point guard McKinley Wright, who assists an average of 15.5 points and 5.6.
Still, the Hoyas are exacerbating the momentum, and coach Patrick Ewing wants to continue to show that he has not received enough credit as head coach. “I’m here where a lot of people did not think I had the ability,” Ewing said. “And I’m proving everyone wrong.”
11 Syracuse over San Diego State no. 6
It should be a captivating game. Syracuse were bulging the point before winning three of four and losing in the Atlantic Coastal Conference with Virginia, while the state of San Diego has won in a 14-game winning streak and has not lost since mid-January.
San Diego State is led by 6-6 senior forward Matt Mitchell, and he has good shooters in Jordan Schakel and Terrell Gomez. As a team, the Aztecs shoot 37 percent from outside the arc – 33rd out of 340 Division I teams.
Yet Syracuse could force deflections in its 2-3 zone leading to transition buckets. If he takes offense, Buddy Boeheim shoots 37 percent from the 3-point line and has scored four tries per game in his last eight games.
11 seed is 52-88 (.371) against sixth seed, and in five of the last six tournaments, an 11 has advanced to the round of 32. This could be the 11th seed selected this year.
Nr. 10 Rutgers on no. 7 Clemson
Rutgers made his NCAA Tour debut since 1991, when George HW Bush was in the White House and Mariah Carey was at the forefront of the Billboard pop charts. And they hope to stay a little longer.
The team has more ways to score than Clemson, and it looks like he’s magical. Ron Harper Jr. is a large, physical guard who can play contact and averages 15.4 points and 5.9 times a game. Geo Baker, the emotional leader of the team, averages 10.1 points, while 6-11 Myles Johnson protects the skin at 2.3 times per game.
Clemson is led by forward Aamir Simms but has no other elite players.
Rutgers were a solid 10-10 in the challenging Big Ten conference, and that would have to prepare the team, even if the players had not been to the national tournament before.
No. 10 Virginia Tech over No. 7 Florida
Virginia Tech finished third in the ACC, but only finished tenth. The team has Keve Aluma, a 6-9 forward who averages 15.6 points and 8.0 rebounds, and has three players averaging six or more rebounds.
The Hokies are in 48th place on the NET rankings, while Florida is 31st. Yet the Gators (14-9) are contradictory and lost as three of four. They may be around for a short time soon. This match starts the action on Friday afternoon.
9 Georgia Tech over No. 8 Loyola Chicago
Loyola is back in the tournament for the first time since Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the team’s now 101-year-old chaplain, became an icon during the Ramblers’ run to the Final Four in 2018. They have won 21 of 23 matches and was led by 6-9 senior grandson Cameron Krutwig, the player of the year of the Missouri Valley Conference, who averaged 15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assistants.
Georgia Tech won the ACC tournament after being selected ninth at the conference. It featured ACC Player of the Year, Moses Wright, averaging 17.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. In recent games, he has scored 26 points against Virginia Tech, 31 against Syracuse and 29 against Duke. Wright scored 15 points and 8 rebounds in the ACC Tournament against Florida State.
The yellow jackets also feature ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jose Alvarado, a New York City native who steals an average of three per game and a defense that turns opponents on 20 percent of possession.
Despite winning the conference tournament, Georgia Tech did not gain much respect here with a number 9 series, and Loyola was able to pay the price. Ninth seeds are 72-68 (.514) against eighth seeds, so this may not be considered a major upset.