NCAA/NIT Viewing Guide, Week 1
gambling casual games for entertainment purposes only are a big deal, so yeah, normally I get you the NIT first-round games, plus the CBA, the CIT, and the WTF tournaments, but hey, this year, I got things going on. (I'm not really happy with my DraftKings lineup for tomorrow, and this is usually the contest that pays for the coming year, so ... Boiler Up, mofos.) Anyway. You will watch the following games coming up this week.
Games What Already Happened
NIT First Round: 3 Ohio State 72, 6 Akron 63, OT
So the Buckeyes went out and showed they pretty much belong right where they're at: an overtime win at home in your first-round game is pretty much a recipe for not playing much longer.
NCAA Opening Round: 11 Michigan 67, 11 Tulsa 62
Something of a surprise in that Michigan was expected to be a bubble team and Tulsa was expected to be shark bait, except that kenpom didn't have much of a difference between the two (Michigan 54th, Tulsa 59th), so that was about right.
WNIT First Round: Minnesota 87, Milwaukee 80
Rachel Banham scored 48 points, which is both a WNIT record and a Williams Arena record. Williams Arena opened in 1928. (It's older than me! Beat you to that joke, boilerdowd.) All you need to know about the Gophers this year is that they got that performance from Banham and beat a 19-win Horizon League team by 7 points.
WNIT First Round: Michigan 81, Wright State 53
This is more like it. Big 14 teams should be running roughshod over their opponents. Are we the best damn conference in the country or what? That's right. Am I just filling space because it's past midnight and I have more content to add? Yes I am.
Games What Will Be Happening Thursday
4:30 PM: NCAA First Round, 5 Purdue vs 12 Arkansas-Little Rock, TBS
There are a lot of places where you can see that the Boilers are maybe not seeded where they ought to be. Would you take 6 to 1 to win the Midwest as a 5 seed? No, because really, that's all? (Utah and Iowa State are 12 to 1.) The way to suggest that the committee did you wrong is to run the 12 seed off the court, or perhaps crush them repeatedly inside until all that's left is Biggie pulling down rebounds and launching outlet passes to open Boilers. DO THIS.
7:10 PM: NCAA First Round, 5 Indiana vs 12 Chattanooga, CBS
To compensate for injuries and certain coaches, IU gets the Mocs in the first round. Chattanooga played Iowa State in Ames back in November and lost by 20; they beat Dayton by 2 in Dayton on 12/12 and haven't played a notable opponent since. This should be a cakewalk for the Hoosiers, so when they're up by maybe 7 a little ways into the second half, don't blame me when IU fans in whatever bar you're at (are you really going to a sports bar on St. Patrick's Day? bring an extra liver) start throwing things in frustration. IU will end up winning comfortably, most likely. (If they don't, well ...)
8:00 PM: WNIT First Round, Nebraska vs Northern Iowa
A favorable matchup for the Huskers, who are themselves beset with injury problems. They should be able to hold off the Panthers, and probably even Drake, but can they stop Rachel Banham and the Gophers in the Sweet 16? Probably not with backup guards.
8:00 PM: WNIT First Round, Iowa vs Ball State
Unlike Nebraska, Iowa has both health and a clear path to the Elite 8. It wouldn't be much of a surprise for them to face a Big 14 team there, but then again, this is the WNIT, and with six Big 14 teams in it, yeah, seeing a number of them playing for a Final Four spot shouldn't be a surprise.
8:00 PM: WNIT First Round, Northwestern vs San Diego
Central Time Zone teams, man, what can you say? Northwestern might get a challenge from the Chippewas in the second round, but surprisingly, San Diego falls right between the two teams in Massey's ratings; the Toreros could pull off the upset in Evanston. (Home court isn't quite as much of an advantage for tournaments like this.)
Games What Will Be Happening Friday
2:45 PM: NCAA First Round, 2 Michigan State vs 15 Middle Tennessee, CBS
The only thing saving this from being total destruction is that the Spartans tend to play at a relatively slow tempo. Denzel Valentine will still be in the triple-double neighborhood, but he'll get some rest near the end and won't actually get one. The Blue Raiders will be very blue indeed.
3:10 PM: NCAA First Round, 7 Iowa vs 10 Temple, truTV
What's the cure for a slumping Iowa team? A team that got a bid because they lost to a lot of quality teams or something. (I mean, other than losing at East Carolina.) One of two things will happen: Iowa will run up 90-some on the Owls, or we'll get a totally unwatchable game that will cause people to say that Temple earned their bid because they only lost to Iowa 44-41 or something like that.
4:30 PM: NCAA First Round, 5 Maryland vs 12 South Dakota State, TBS
Why isn't this game played in Arizona? That would be a great setup for a joke. Anyway, SDSU has caused problems for teams under Scott Nagy when they were not seeded this high; Maryland would do well to get a nice big lead and keep it. Texas Tech, SDSU's last tournament opponent, did not do that, and it took a strong second half in Lubbock for the Red Raiders to come away with the win. Remember, this is the team that lost to Minnesota (Maryland, that is; SDSU beat them by 14 in Minneapolis). Anything is possible.
6:50 PM: NCAA First Round, 7 Wisconsin vs 10 Pitt, TNT
Remember when Pitt was a quality win for Purdue? That was a long time ago. The Panthers did not end the season well, losing at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, then squeaking past Syracuse by 1 before getting whacked by UNC. Remember when Jamie Dixon had Pitt in contention for a title? Yeah, well, that was 5 years ago, and the Panthers haven't been more than a second-round speed bump since. At the speed Wisconsin drives, that could be a problem. Do we have to watch this game? Please say no.
9:40 PM: NCAA First Round, 11 Michigan vs 6 Notre Dame, CBS
Does John Beilein have tricks in his bag for this matchup? Probably. If you thought Michigan's defense was bad, you should check out Notre Dame's. They force turnovers almost as infrequently as Purdue does, they don't prevent offensive boards, and opponents get nice looks from outside (even though they don't get quite as many as the average team gives up, and 3PA is generally a better indicator of defense than 3P%, 32.7% of opponents' points come from 3s, which is 54th-most in DI). Michigan doesn't like offensive boards themselves, so maybe we'll see a couple of missed shots just bounce out of bounds while puzzled players figure out who was supposed to do something about that.
12:00 PM: WNCAA First Round, 4 Michigan State vs 13 Belmont
No, it's not in East Lansing because MSU is hosting high-school games there and apparently didn't want to use their old arena or something, idk. It won't matter Friday. It will matter Sunday when the Spartans play Mississippi State in Starkville.
2:30 PM: WNCAA First Round, 3 Ohio State vs 14 Buffalo
The Buckeyes should have two relatively easy games in Columbus before heading to Sioux Falls, likely to meet Arizona State in the Sweet 16. It'll effectively be a neutral-site matchup, as would be their regional final meeting with South Carolina. If the Buckeyes can remember how they beat Maryland twice during the regular season, they've got as good of a shot as any in this bracket to finish their season in Indianapolis.
Games What Should Happen On Saturday
NIT Second Round, 3 Ohio State vs 2 Florida
Maybe Florida gets enough of the gate receipts that it's better for OSU to host? Home court is usually an advantage, right? Well, remember that the Buckeyes lost to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech at home this year. Florida has a resume more like that of an NCAA team, so expect OSU to be in a hole most of this game. (They'll probably have the next round in Columbus anyway.)
1:30 PM: WNCAA First Round, 2 Maryland vs 15 Iona
If you are a 30-win team with Final Four aspirations, you are going to run through Iona. The game will be over at halftime, and you will watch your bench players continue the rout in the second half. However, we will not be watching this game because ...
1:30 PM: WNCAA First Round, 11 Purdue vs 6 Oklahoma
The problem with these tournaments overlapping is that I can't be both in Lexington to watch this game and up here watching all the men's second-round games. Now, if I could get a useful VR headset that would display the men's games to the sides of the game I'm watching live, we might be onto something.
If you follow the women's team much, then Oklahoma might make you remember Courtney Paris. Purdue's 2009 team was a 6 seed; they beat Charlotte and 3-seed North Carolina in Chattanooga, then went to Oklahoma City and took care of 7-seed Rutgers (who'd crushed 2-seed Auburn in Piscataway ... and we thought men's tournament games were sited poorly). The last obstacle between Purdue and a fourth Final Four appearance was Paris and the top-seeded Sooners. The Boilers played well, but not quite well enough, falling 74-68 (by far the closest regional final; the others were decided by 17, 19, and 21).
If that were to happen Saturday, it wouldn't be a bad end to the season. Last year, injuries helped drop the Good Gals to 14th in the conference. This year, they couldn't keep the Boilers out of the NCAAs. Next year? Hopefully we've got one more game Monday before we have to think about next year.
9:00 PM: WNCAA First Round, 9 Indiana vs 8 Georgia
The winner gets Notre Dame in South Bend, so it doesn't really matter. This is why you really, really don't want to be an 8 or a 9 seed in women's basketball - there's just too much of a gap between the top teams and the rest of the pack.