2019 NCAA Viewing Guide, Round 1
What? This totally isn’t late. Are you really watching Louisville-Minnesota? I’m sorry.
3 Purdue (23-9) vs 14 Old Dominion (26-8), 9:50 PM Thursday on TBS
10 Minnesota (21-13) vs 7 Louisville (20-13), 12:15 PM Thursday on CBS
Bill Murray vs the Gophers, isn’t that appropriate? Richard Pitino vs Clearly Not Rick Pitino. Bad outside shooting vs bad outside shooting. Two teams unlikely to beat Michigan State this time of year. Minnesota’s been leading most of the game, so if you had an all-Big Tenteen matchup in the second round, you’re looking good. (Remember, they can meet in the second round because they only played once during the regular season and BTT combined.)
2 Michigan State (28-6) vs 15 Bradley (20-14), 2:45 PM Thursday on CBS
If you’re a run-of-the-mill mid-major, you’d just be happy to make the tournament, right? You’d be spreading goodwill and cheer and certainly not trying to lock a long-time beat writer out of the press area, right? Uh … right? Well then. Hopefully CBS will ask Bradley’s AD about it during the part of the game where it’s no longer in question, which is likely to be about 35 minutes or so. The Spartans may well be tested, but it’s unlikely to happen this week.
6 Maryland (22-10) vs 11 Belmont (27-5), 3:10 PM Thursday on truTV
Belmont is a trendy pick, but they’ve never won a first-round game, and they don’t seem equipped to take out the Terrapins either. The Bruins made a living inside against Ohio Valley competition, but it’s hard to imagine them succeeding against Bruno Fernando and company - they need to hit some threes and force some Maryland turnovers, or get one of the Terrapin bigs into foul trouble. That could work both ways, since neither team is particularly deep and since Belmont is playing on one day’s rest. Maryland should get the win here.
2 Michigan (28-6) vs 15 Montana (26-8), 9:20 PM Thursday on TNT
The Grizzlies are likely thrilled to have back-to-back Big Sky championships, but getting the Wolverines in back-to-back tournaments is maybe not such a prize. Michigan struggled for a bit, but pulled away for a comfortable win en route to a championship-game appearance; they seem poised for another long run this year, and they aren't likely to stumble here. The Big Tenteen should be 4-0 by the time the Purdue game starts to wind down.
10 Iowa (22-11) vs 7 Cincinnati (28-6), 12:15 PM Friday on CBS
One of the better games in the first round, CBS did well to kick off Friday’s schedule with this one. At one end, you get one of the best offenses in the country against one of the better defenses; at the other end, you have Cincinnati’s reasonable offense against something that is technically defense. Maybe. If Cincinnati can keep the tempo more to its liking, they should be able to hang on; there’s also the question of McCaffery and his on-court temperament. This would be a bad time to get himself ejected.
5 Wisconsin (23-10) vs 12 Oregon (23-12), 4:30 PM on TBS
Mid-major Pac-12 squeezed three teams into the tournament, getting Arizona State through the play-in game and Washington in as an at-large after the Ducks stole the tournament title. Dana Altman’s team is two years removed from a Final Four run and a much less dangerous team now, and they’re not really equipped to break down the Badger defense like that team might have. If Oregon can score in transition, they might be able to keep it close, and that could be enough to spring a late upset … especially if Ethan Happ is on the floor late. It’s more likely that Wisconsin’s three-point shooting opens up a safe lead.
11 Ohio State (19-14) vs 6 Iowa State (23-11), 9:50 PM on TBS
The Buckeyes were one of several unimpressive at-large teams to earn a bid; their reward is the Big 12 tournament champs, who lost six of their last eight before winning three straight in Kansas City. The Cyclones have a balanced offense and should present trouble for Ohio State at both ends; a better team might give ISU a battle, but OSU is likely to hang with them only for a half. But at least they made the tournament, right? There’s a lot to be said for getting your team into the tournament. Even if their non-conference strength of schedule wasn’t very good. I bet there are fans of other teams with similar profiles who aren’t too pleased to see OSU in the tournament.