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Arizona State And Fairleigh Dickinson Make Big Impressions In The 2023 NCAA Tournament’s First Four

Both teams had brilliant debuts in this year’s tournament

Nevada v Arizona State
 DAYTON, OHIO - MARCH 15: Bobby Hurley #11 of the Arizona State Sun Devils drives to the basket against Tyler Powell #1 of the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second half in the First Four game of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at University of Dayton Arena on March 15, 2023 in Dayton, Ohio.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State team picked a great night to go off, and go off they did, annihlating Nevada, 98-73.

Pretty much anything Arizona State threw up went in. The Sun Devils shot 63.6 percent and hit 11-21 on threes for 52.4 percent. Add 17-24 from the line and it was a pretty thorough affirmation of the argument against Nevada’s inclusion.

The Sun Devils set a First Four record with 98 points too.

It was a real tour de force. On Friday, ASU will get TCU and in Denver, too, which is going to be tough for some guys due to altitude.

By the way, how cool was it to see #11 Bobby Hurley get a few minutes?

In the earlier game, Fairleigh Dickinson really opened some eyes too.

The Knights just took Texas Southern apart. Fairleigh Dickinson forced 14 turnovers and limited an already poor-shooting team to 1-17 for threes. And the disparity in free throws - the Tigers had nine attempts and hit eight. However, Fairleigh Dickinson had 31 attempts, hitting 27.

Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson is a great story. He was a D-II coach who got a chance at D-I and has really made the most of it. People immediately compared the Knights to Saint Peter’s from last year. We’ll have to see about that, but if they can turn Purdue over and run, who knows?

Things start for real on Thursday. Festivities start with Maryland vs. West Virginia. We’ll go with the Mountaineers here.

Then it’s Virginia and Furman. Furman is a popular upset pick but remember this: people who don’t see Virginia on a regular basis have no idea how to deal with their defense. We’ll go with the Cavs because our guess is Furman will struggle against the Pack Line.

We’ll gamble on Ryan Odom and Utah State to take out #7 Missouri.

While we’d love to see Kenny Blakeney and Howard knock off Kansas, realistically, the odds of that happening are very slight.

Alabama will sink Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and probably quickly.

Illinois vs. Arkansas is a coin toss. We’ll go with the Razorbacks and probably regret it.

Auburn vs. Iowa is another tough one. We should mention again that Fran McCaffery has never gotten out of the first weekend. Auburn is off this year though, which makes it tougher to pick them but we’ll bet on Bruce Pearl here.

We don’t bet against Duke and aren’t going to start with Oral Roberts.

No idea why, but for some reason, we have a hunch about Colgate brushing off the Longhorns. That’s going to blow up in our faces, right?

We warned you guys a while back to keep an eye on Boise State. They’ll give Northwestern fits but we think the Wildcats defense will prevail.

Northern Kentucky is not beating Houston.

Tennessee is not playing that well and is missing point guard Zakai Zeigler. Losing your point guard is never a good thing. We’ll go with the upset here.

Penn State and Texas A&M is likely to be a good one. ACC fans have a pretty good idea of what a good Buzz Williams team is like and while this one started slow, he has them (including former Blue Devil Henry Coleman III) playing very well. So we’ll take the Aggies here.

Finally in the nightcap, Asheville will fly to Sacramento and no one needs to pack heavily. UCLA is too focused and too good for the Bulldogs.