2017 NCAA Tournament Preview
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It's that time again as 68 teams enter the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament looking to be the last team standing as One Shining Moment is played. Villanova the defending champion enters the tournament as the number one overall seed, looking to become the first team since Florida in 2007 to win two straight National Championships. The Wildcats spent most of the season, ranked number one, losing just three games during the season. Among the teams looking to pick off the Wildcats is Duke, who enters the tournament playing their best basketball, a strong Kansas team, North Carolina, a high scoring team from UCLA, and Gonzaga.
For four teams the NCAA Tournament begins early on the campus of the University of Dayton in Ohio. The First Four is what the NCAA would like you to call what is a play in for the full 64 team tournament. Two games will be played on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday featuring the weakest four teams in the field of 68 and the last four teams selected for at-large buds. Winners of the 16 seed matchups get to at least say they won a tournament game before they get chomped by one of the big dog in the tournament. It is those other games the 11 seed games that can bring out a live dog, as teams from this game have been known to go on long tournament runs. New Orleans was consistent all season, topping 20 wins and will win this game.
The First Four tips off Tuesday Night with Mount St. Mary's facing New Orleans with the winner advancing to face #1 overall and defending champion Villanova. The Mountaineers have been to Dayton before, winning a play-in game in 2008, while losing in 2014. Mount St. Mary's has been a #16 seed in all five NCAA appearances since moving up from Division 2. The Privateers meanwhile are in the tournament for the first time in 21 years. Mt. St. Mary's made a strong run to win the NEC Tournament. New Orleans was consistent all season, topping 20 wins and will win this game.
In the nightcap, Kansas State will face Wake Forrest for the right to play #6 Cincinnati in the South Region. Wake Forest often struggles on defense, but thanks to Center John Collins 18.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, the Demon Deacons were able to get through the ACC with a solid season and make the tournament for the first time since 2010. Kansas State is good at getting points off turnovers, but just can't do enough to win this one.
Wednesday Night brings us match up of UC Davis in their NCAA Tournament debut taking on MEAC Champion North Carolina Central for the right to face #1 Kansas in the Midwest Region. The Aggies, who reached the tournament by beating UC-Irvine in the Big West Championship, might have the worst offense in the 68-team field. The Eagles of NC-Central dominated the MEAC, winning 25 games and should be able to easily knock off UC-Davis.
In the Dayton finale, Providence faces South Carolina for the right to play SMU in the Eastern Regional. The Friars were playing well late in the season, winning six straight to close the regular season before losing to Creighton in the Big East Tournament. USC got off to a fast start, posting a record of 14-0 against a weak non-conference schedule. The Trojans looked good at times in the Pac-12 but in the end found themselves at the fringe of being a top team. When facing stronger teams USC is often exposed and that will happen in Dayton as Providence wins going away.
NCAA 64 Team Preview