The greatest time in sports is finally here. Yes this is a football centric blog, and the labor day weekend is fantastic, but you cannot replace the first weekend of March Madness. From 11 am on Thursday morning every single office, classroom and bar will have their eyes glued to the TV. So in preparation of that, we will have a preview of the entire bracket along with picks for every single game for the next 67 games. You may need to follow the twitter to get picks over the weekend. So do that first, here.
But lets get started with the South Division.
First Round Matchups
3 Tennessee (25-8) vs. 14 Wright State (25-9)
11:40 PM, Thursday – TRUtv
Tennessee ended season in a loss to Kentucky in the SEC title game. The volunteers went on 2 – conference leading 6 game win streaks and the regular season title. Tennessee had the 4th best SOS, 5th best Adjusted Defense and the 19th best Non-Conference schedule. Wright State won the Horizon league title but has 0 top-25 wins which makes this round a hard one to win. Wright State has the 57th best defense in the country but Tennessee will win outright. Tough match-up for the Raiders.
6 Miami (FL) (22-9) vs. 11 Loyola-Chicago (28-5)
3:10 PM, Thursday – TRUtv
Miami started the season with a 13-2 record with a win over 24th ranked Florida State. Loyola ended the season with a 18-2 record and won the Missouri Valley title decisively. Miami star Bruce Brown Jr. is out with an injury and Loyola is hot. If the Ramblers can get past 6-11 center Dewan Hall, this will be a must watch game and a Hurricane will not hit this tournament. Loyola UPSETS Miami.
5 Kentucky (24-10) vs. 12 Davidson (21-11)
7:10 PM, Thursday – CBS
Kentucky won the SEC and the Davidson won the Atlantic 10. But Kentucky, although young, is a program that has been here before and John Calipari is a great coach in the tournament. Kentucky is 25th in adjusted offense, 23rd in adjusted defense and had the 9th best SOS. But Davidson had the 18th best adjusted offense and is hot of a run to the A10 title. This should be a close game and one that shouldn’t be missed on Thursday night. Kentucky win a close one.
4 Arizona (27-7) vs. 13 Buffalo (26-8)
9:40 PM, Thursday – CBS
Both teams won their tournaments and regular season titles, but Arizona will be no match for the undersized Buffalo Bulls. Arizona wins this one easy, no room for argument. Arizona has 3 top 25 wins to Buffalo’s 0. Buffalo has been tested before but has 0 Q1 wins. This will be an easy matchup for Arizona.
2 Cincinnati (30-4) vs. 15 Georgia State (24-10)
1 PM, Friday – TBS
3 of the 4 losses for Cincinatti were under 10 points, with a 13 point loss to #1 Xavier. Georgia State has 0 wins in the top-25 but won the Sun Belt conference to make it to the dance. Cincy has the 2nd best adjusted defense in the country compared to Georgia State’s 102th ranked adjusted offense. Georgia State has 2 wins over RPI top 100 and lost 4 of last 6 regular season games. This is March, but Georgia State has no business making out of the first round, especially with Cincinnati’s tough full court defense.
7 Nevada (27-7) vs. 10 Texas (19-14)
4:30 PM, Friday – TBS
Nevada went cold against SDSU in the conference semi finals and that is never good going into the tournament, going down by as much as 30 points. The Wolfpack can score with their 10th ranked adjusted offense, but going cold late is never a good sign. Texas has the 10th best adjusted defense and the 3rd strongest SOS. Texas has been tested all year, going 5-7 against Top 25 teams, while Nevada has only played one game in the top 25. Texas wins in round 1.
8 Creighton (21-11) vs. 9 Kansas State (22-11)
6:50 PM, Friday – TNT
Creighton has always been a good team and has a potent back court. Kansas State has lost to the top teams in the Big 12, but beat #4 Oklahoma. With injuries on both sides, this match-up is a toss up. I do not think any of these teams will advance past the 2nd round, especially in a match-up against Virginia. Creighton will play fast but Kansas State will be able to keep up. The Wildcats have a very good defense that will need to stop one of the nations best offensive teams. Kansas State wins.
1 Virginia vs. 16 UMBC
8:20 PM, Friday – TNT
I’m not even going to analyze this game. Virginia is the nation’s best team and dominates every category. Virginia wins.