Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness: Must Watch First Round Games

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Finally, the Selection Committee has spoken, the bracket has been announced and the tournament everybody has been waiting for is right around the corner.

March Madness has many drooling like a kid in the candy store. You have Ohio State, Duke, Pitt, Kansas and many other talented programs after the National Championship.

Following the biggest Sunday in College Basketball many are talking about the talented programs that weren't fortunate enough to make the NCAA tournament.

Also, how balanced the NCAA brackets are this time around.

There are many first round matchup that aren't easy cakewalks. The 16-seeds can give the one seeds a hard time, and so forth.

The biggest matchup probably are going to occur in the first round; take a look at my must watch games in the first round.

George Mason Patriots (26-6, 16-2) vs Villanova Wildcats (21-11, 9-9)

George Mason and Villanova are going in completely opposite directions. Villanova has started to make their late season slump, and George Mason is coming off a loss that snapped their 16-game win streak.

This is a great first round match that should have an Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight type atmosphere.

Both teams have great guard play, which should make the game very interesting. George Mason's senior guard Cam Long and Villanova's Corey Fisher should be an interesting matchup because both guards have the ability to fill it up from the field.

My prediction: Villanova is on a five-game losing streak headed into March and some questioned if they should even make the tournament after turning in that kind of performance at the end of the season. Villanova is struggling with defense and that is one thing George Mason has in their favor. My bracket wants to say Villanova won't lose six in a row, but George Mason is too talented to lose in the first round.

Cincinnati Bearcats (25-8, 11-7) vs Missouri Tigers (23-10, 8-8)

On the road, Missouri has been a team that struggles. But when it's neutral, Mizzou has come away with four wins compared to two losses. Cincinnati, on the other hand, has come away with a 2-1 record at neutral sites but has shown more of an ability to win on the road in a tough environment.

Both teams have their differences but their similarity is what makes this matchup intriguing. Both teams are very good defensively. Cincinnati is physical and makes the offenses force shots that aren't there.

Missouri, on the other hand, strives off a physical press defense that create many turnovers and easy baskets.

My prediction: Cincinnati doesn't have near as much offensive power as Mizzou. The Bearcats only blemish this season is their inability to put up big offensive numbers. The game will be decided by defense, as you probably have guessed. If Cincinnati can keep the game around the 60's the Bearcats should be in good position to move on, but if their guards are unable to handle the pressure by Mizzou, the Bearcats will be looking at a early round exit.

Texas Longhorns (27-7, 13-3) vs Oakland Golden Grizzlies (25-9, 17-1)

The game certainly fails the eye-test. You have a Summit League team in Oakland and a Big 12 powerhouse in Texas, easy game right? Not so much.

Oakland went out and competed against nationally ranked colleges in the non-conference highlighted by matchups with Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois and Tennessee.

The Golden Grizzlies have size in the frontcourt that can match Texas' as well as talented guards that can create problems as well.

My prediction: Despite the non-conference SOS taking on eight teams inside the RPI top 100. There outlook, however, wasn't so pretty. Oakland finished (1-7) against teams inside the RPI top 100 because of their inability to take care of the ball. They'll be up against one of the more physical defensive teams in the nation and that could be too overwhelming for the mid-major.

Princeton Tigers (25-6, 12-2) vs Kentucky Wildcats (25-8, 10-6)

15 years ago, Princeton was a No. 13 seed and knocked off defending champ UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year, Princeton is the No. 13 seed, again, and taking on a perennial threat in fourth-ranked Kentucky.

The Princeton Tigers isn't a team that is going to beat you with offense. In fact, this season, the Tigers only surpassed 80-points five times.

Although, I do believe Princeton could be a tough matchup for this young Kentucky team.

My prediction: As of late, Kentucky has showcased their ability to play as one, instead of playing one-on-one basketball with a matchup that they favor. Princeton has the tools to disrupt Kentucky, I just don't see it unfolding that way.

VCU Rams (23-11, 12-6) vs USC Trojans (19-14, 10-8)

The First Four might have one of the more interesting match-ups in VCU vs USC. USC has non-conference wins against Texas, Tennessee and just barely loss at Kansas. VCU has just the same amount of significant wins but also failed to win against Tennessee at home.

This matchup should be very good considering that both teams have proved that they can play with some of the best.

Both are virtually the same team with no significant differences and matchup very well.

My prediction: I believe VCU holds a slight edge over USC, although I believe USC should win this game. USC has competed against some of the best in the Pac-10 but VCU has competed against some of the best in the Colonial as well. It will be a very good game that I think will be decided by a couple of points.

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