2018 NCAA Tournament Preview
March Madness has arrived again, with 68 teams vying to be the last team standing on April 2nd as they cut down the nets at the Alamodome in San Antonio as One Shining Moment Plays. This year’s tournament promises to be one of the most wide open of all time. However, as the tournament begins, the storm clouds are on the horizon with a looming FBI investigation that could sweep up some of the biggest programs in College Basketball. Virginia comes into the tournament as the number one overall seed, while Villanova is a top seed for the third straight years, looking to regain the mantle of NCAA Champions. Nova is one of two Big East teams given number one seeds, with Xavier also being a top seed along with Kansas.
Long before the tournament winds in San Antonio with the Final Four, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins with the First Four in Dayton. The tournament tips on Tuesday Night with LIU-Brooklyn playing Radford for the right to face #1 Villanova in the Eastern Region. LIU may be one of the weakest teams in the 68-team field. Neither team has ever won a tournament game, though the Highlanders of Radford appear to have the better shooters and should win the tournament opener.
Tuesday’s nightcap features UCLA, one of the most storied programs in the history of the NCAA trying to salvage what has to be considered a disappointing season. The Bruins have had their ups and downs but had a good showing in the Pac-12 Tournament losing to Arizona in the semifinals. St. Bonaventure had a terrific season but stumbled in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Talent wise the Bruins have more professional level players which should help them get a narrow win over the Bonnies to advance to the field of 64 where they will be a live dog against #6 Florida in the East Region.
Wednesday Night brings us a battle of teams from the MEAC and SWAC, for the right to play Xavier, the number one seed in the West Region. On December 23rd nobody could have imagined Texas Southern playing in the NCAA Tournament as they got off to a 0-13 start. However, the Tigers have played well since the start of conference play and won the SWAC Tournament despite finishing with a record of 15-19. North Carolina Central meanwhile after a mediocre season in the MEAC won their conference tournament. Southern Texas may have the worst record of but since January they have played considerably better and will beat the Eagles on Wednesday in Dayton.
Wrapping up the First Four on Wednesday Night will be a battle between Syracuse and Arizona State, the last two teams to get at-large bids in this year’s tournament. Both teams underperformed expectations, and struggled down the stretch, making their selection somewhat dubious. The Orange, of course, had the tougher schedule playing in the ACC. The Sun Devils meanwhile come in losing five of their last six games, including a first-round loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament. The winner of the game will move on to face #6 TCU in the Midwest Region. Look for Syracuse to win a close battle.