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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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Eyes On The NCAA: March Madness First Round

By @TrueGodImmortal 

March Madness is upon us and I'm sure you're all excited for the most exhilarating part of the NCAA season, March Madness. 64 teams split into 4 separate brackets of South, West, Midwest, and East. These teams are the best of the best in the college basketball world, and with a one and done tournament style, it makes this one of the most exciting things ever in sports. The first and second rounds of the tournament kick off this weekend and you'll see a ton of crazy games, but today we want to take a look at the bracket and see which games could be fun to watch and if any upsets could happen. Let's get into it.

The Games To Watch
-With the first round having a total of 32 games over 4 brackets, there could be some really interesting games that you want to keep your eye on. We broke these down by each bracket and gave you a guide of two games per bracket that you may want to keep an eye on in the first round. Let's start with the south and work our way to the end.

With teams like North Carolina, Arkansas, UCLA, and Kentucky in this bracket, this one is up for grabs to see who reach the Final Four. Here are the two matchups I think should be watched closely.

(6)Cincinnati vs (11) Kansas State
-After a tough victory over Wake Forest, Kansas State has a big problem on their hands now: a Cincinnati team that defensively can slow them down with ease. Kansas State had a nice back and forth game with Wake Forest, but can they compete with Cincinnati? This is a really interesting game to me, because I have Cincinnati winning, but Kansas State isn't a slouch. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

(5) Minnesota vs (12) Middle Tennessee
-Though Minnesota is ranked higher, Middle Tennessee has a better record and could very well be the better team on both ends of the ball, but Minnesota is the favorite here. It's going to be a close game throughout and if you want some good first round basketball to watch, this is the one I'd say to look to.

This bracket is very interesting to me, as the no. 1 seed Gonzaga is one I don't expect to escape the Sweet 16 round. As for the rest of the bracket, I see Arizona as the team to watch in this bracket and pick them to win it.

(6) Maryland vs (11) Xavier
-There's something to me about Maryland in the March Madness tournament. I never believe in them. They always end up losing a close game at some point in the tournament every year... and this could be the one. Xavier is no slouch so it'll be interesting to see what happens here. Could Maryland fall victim to their usual March Madness problem?

(5) Notre Dame vs (12) Princeton 
-This is a game I think will be a really important one in the tournament. If Notre Dame can get beyond Princeton, I think they will be a problem going forward. They have the benefit of being in the same bracket as Gonzaga (and Arizona), but it's a possibility they get in the Sweet 16 and surprise everyone. I have Notre Dame taking this one in a close yet hard fought game.

The East is always an interesting bracket and this year is no different. The no. 1 seed of course is Villanova and they are a lot of people's favorites to win this whole thing this year. Will they end up doing it? I see a lot of interesting matchups going forward in later rounds, and I'm keeping my eye on Baylor, Florida, and of course Duke as well. We could be seeing a possible Villanova vs Duke matchup in the Elite 8, and I'd definitely be for that.

(5) Virginia vs (12) UNC Wilmington 
-This game is one that could truly go either way. I find that Virginia has been notoriously inconsistent this year, but none of that matters in a one and done tournament. If they show up ready to play for this stretch of games, we might see them walk away with the victory. However, due to that inconsistency, I might tip the scale in favor of UNC Wilmington, who have the opportunity to be the underdog in this bracket and tournament.

(8) Wisconsin vs (9) Virginia Tech 
-I like both teams overall and I think this could be the game of the first round. Wisconsin is a solid team on both ends of the ball and so is Virginia Tech. I'd lean towards Wisconsin here, but it's anybody's game as always.

The Midwest really has some top teams here, and a possible winner of the whole tournament in this bracket in Michigan. I know Louisville, Iowa State, Nevada, Kansas, and other great teams are here, but Michigan is my pick to win and head to the Final Four. I see Michigan as the team with the right momentum going in. Hopefully they can pull it off.

(4) Purdue vs (13) Vermont 
-I have a feeling this will be one of the best games in the tournament overall. It's a feeling that Purdue will edge Vermont in this one, but I'm not so sure. We could see one of those epic March Madness game winners to put Vermont over Purdue and I'd welcome that for sure. It's a toss up to see who wins this one, and I honestly think whoever wins this game could be a sleeper pick in the Midwest.

(6) Creighton vs (11) Rhode Island 
-We discussed this briefly on EOTR Live and I'm really interested in this game. I believe that Rhode Island will pull out the victory here, but Creighton is capable of making a run in this tournament and surprising people. The beauty of March Madness is the mystique of these type of games, but I'm going to stick with Rhode Island in a close game.

Looking Toward The Second Round
If some of these victories happen the way I expect it to, the second round will be absolutely fun to watch. The tournament kicks off tomorrow (or by the time you read this, it could very well be underway), and I can't wait to see how this first round plays out. What will the 2nd round have in store? I'm not completely sure, but I'd bank on a few people still standing as far as teams go: Villanova, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida State. Everyone else is fair game and the higher seeds could be upset by the lower seeds all across the board except a few select games. This is the NCAA. This is March Madness. This is why we love it.



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