We didn’t make picks in the First Four in time for Tuesday’s games, but we might have picked St. Bonaventure to knock off UCLA. We know a bit about the Bonnies so it might have been a smart pick but too late.
As for Radford vs. LIU-Brooklyn, we’d have just been guessing.
What we usually look for are a few qualities:
- Good coaching
- Solid guard play
- Good defense
- On a secondary note, we look for good basketball schools. So you might consider a school like (and some are not in the field) Davidson, East Tennessee State, Utah State, Weber State, Belmont, Northern Iowa...schools that aren’t in a power conference but which have a long-standing tradition. We were really hoping Wofford would make the field to see if Fletcher Magee could go Stephen on some unsuspecting team.
With that in mind, here we go:
On Wednesday night, the other two games will see NCCU take on Texas Southern and Syracuse tackle Arizona State.
Much as we’d like to see Central knock off Texas Southern, this is not one of LeVelle Moton’s better teams so we’d take Texas Southern. And while Arizona State is too guard-dependent, that team picked up on Bobby Hurley’s ferocious nature. They haven’t hesitated to play anyone anywhere. The NCAA is a new season and look for the Sun Devils to come out fired up.
On Thursday night, Bob Hurley, Sr. gets to see his younger son coach in the NCAA tourmanent too as Rhode Island takes on Trae Young’s Oklahoma. We like Rhody. First, OU has been awful for the last several weeks, but second because the younger Hurley is outstanding. And while his pride might not let him do it, he can call his dad and get input on how to shut down one particular player. For that matter, he could conceivably call Bobby.
It seems unlikely, but no one has really mentioned the possibility that the Hurleys could face each other in the Sweet Sixteen. Their dad, who is as big a tough guy as anyone could expect, falls to pieces watching his boys coach. He would have a real problem at that game.
Wright State might be one of those schools but Rick Barnes has turned Tennessee into a very tough opponent. We have a hard time seeing the Vols lose early, but could live with it. That much orange is hard to take.
Wes Miller is a heck of a coach. Winning 27 games at UNCG is an accomplishment. The Spartans will push Gonzaga and we could see an upset but don't expect it. However, expect a lot of offers to come his way by the end of the month. He’s at that point.
A 1-16 game is the most unlikely upset of all yet it’s been close a few times. We could see Penn doing it if everything broke just right but it probably won't happen. However, Kansas is vulnerable. First, the Jayhawks are prone to upsets. Second, the roster is unusually thin. Third, despite his failure at BC, Steve Donahue is an outstanding coach. We’d like their chances better if it weren’t in Wichita. Keep an eye on it though. It could be great.
We don't bet against Duke so we’ll take the Blue Devils over Iona.
A lot of people are picking Loyola to take down Miami and they’re good and Miami is erratic. However, both Lonnie Walker and Chris Lykes have really come on late and the rotation is pretty athletic. It’s a risky pick but we’ll go with the ‘Canes.
South Dakota is in Boise playing Ohio State. This is a smart team with a lot of experience and one that doesn’t make stupid mistakes. We’ll take the Jackrabbits but Chris Holtmann has done a brilliant job this season.
Will NC State be happy to make the field? OR will they make some noise? Like Holtmann, Kevin Keatts has done a phenomenal job in his first season. His guys have bought in.
Seton Hall is arguably better but in the latter part of the year, the Wolfpack has either beaten or gone toe to toe with Duke and UNC, Florida State and Louisville. In the last two seasons, at UNCW, Keatts has nearly pulled off upsets of Duke and Virginia. He’s an outstanding coach. Seton Hall has some outstanding guards but State’s seen better. We’ll take the Pack.
Villanova will kill Radford. It’ll be like a vintage 30 second Mike Tyson fight.
Davidson is always scary. Kentucky is rounding into form, just in time, but Davidson can win this game. Best of all, it’s in Boise. Yes the BBN travels very well, but it’s a long ways from home. We’ll take the Wildcats here. Oh, which ones? Well...Davidson.
We have no idea about San Diego State vs. Houston so we’ll take what we know and go with Kelvin Sampson.
Texas Tech should beat Stephen F. Austin but give the Lumberjacks credit for getting back with a new coach and presumably a very different team.
Alabama is kind of sketchy at 19-15 but Colin Sexton is a wildly gifted guard as we saw in the SEC tournament. Virginia Tech is capable of being a very good team though. Buzz Williams is an outstanding coach and he gets his guys to play hard and together. We think the Hokies advance.
Buffalo is a tougher team than you might think and Nate Oates is a rising star in the profession, but De’Andre Ayton is a freak show. He should dominate this game and if he doesn’t, then Arizona should fire Sean Miller - for malpractice.
We’ll be truly shocked if Montana upsets Michigan. The Grizzlies have built unlikely success but they’re taking this one.
But we do think the Bonnies will take Florida. The Gators are too erratic and St. Bonaventure is a tough team as UCLA just found out.