NCAA 2018 Tournament: Predictions of B / R experts, updated results for the first round



0 of 32

    Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

    The first round of the Division I basketball championship of 2018 continues on Friday, with 16 more matches to keep him on the edge of his seat. [19659004] Surprises are a reality in this tournament, and Buffalo, number 13, delivered on Thursday with a knockout of the fourth seed Arizona in the South Region, while Loyola of Chicago annoyed Miami earlier in the day.

    High-ranking teams In action on Friday include seeds No. 1 Virginia and Xavier, as well as the second seeds from North Carolina, Cincinnati and Purdue. Join us so you do not miss a minute of the action!

    Analysis of the preview of the following slides written by Kerry Miller. Advanced statistics courtesy of KenPom.com and Sports Reference.

1 of 32

      Robert Williams

    Robert Williams Andy Lyons / Getty Images

    Matchup : No. 7 Texas A & M vs. No. 10 Providence (West Regional)

    Details : Friday at 12:15 p. M. ET (CBS) in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Spectrum Center

    Texas A & M wins if …

    Being bigger is an advantage in this game . With a center of 6 & # 39; 10 ", a power forward of 6 & # 39; 10" and a forward wing of 6 & # 39; 9 ", the Aggies are one of the highest teams in the country. It's good, because they can control the glbad, block and sometimes it's easier to get to the hoop.Other times, it's a disadvantage, because smaller teams can run circles around it, force turnovers and avoid blockers when firing on the zone.

    This seems However, Providence is a three-point shooting team below average, does not force as many turnovers and is not good at defending the paint or protecting the defensive glbad 19659005]

    Providence wins if …

    Kyron Cartwright alone challenges Providence's tendencies with regard to theft and three-point shooting, he is not the best or the most frequent shooter, but he shoots a 38.4 percent and can take over a game regardless of its efficiency metric Say what you should do. And when the Friars force live turnovers, he's usually the reason, since Cartwright leads the team in steals.

    However, he can not be the only friar to appear. Jalen Lindsey is the team's best three-point shooter, but she's only 4 of 26 from the depth of the last five games. If you can get out of that cold spell for a few large cubes, it could make a difference.

    The most important players are …

    Robert Williams for Texas A & M and Cartwright for Providence. Williams is the star player of the Aggies, who locks blocks, bounces and bounces defensively, but disappears or gets into trouble frequently for a guy who could be chosen for the lottery. And Cartwright is the soul of the friars.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Providence

    David Kenyon: Providence

    Jason King: Providence

    Kerry Miller: Texas A & M

    C.J. Moore: Providence

2 of 32

      Carsen Edwards

    Carsen Edwards Michael Conroy / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 2 Purdue Vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton (Eastern Regional)

    Details : Friday at 12:40 p.m. ET (truTV) at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

    Purdue wins if …

    You can avoid the first-round exit error of 2015 and 2016. The Boilermakers should have won to Cincinnati in 2015, but they squandered an advantage and lost in overtime. The same thing happened the following year against Arkansas-Little Rock, except that the game went into double overtime.

    Assuming last year's trip to Sweet 16 exorcised those demons, however, there's nothing to worry about here. Purdue is not perfect, but it's better than Cal State Fullerton in almost every way, shape and form.

    Cal State Fullerton wins if …

    Sets some kind of record with free throws. The Titans lead the nation in free throw percentage and get almost 25 percent of their points from the charity franchise. Kyle Allman leads the way with 7.7 free throw attempts per game, but it's not even a third of the gifts this team makes.

    However, that's the only area of ​​the game where Cal State Fullerton usually dominates, and he has the wrong opponent for that. Purdue ranks seventh in the nation in defensive free throw rate, allowing only 14.2 attempts per game over the course of the season.

    The most important players are …

    Carsen Edwards for Purdue and Allman for Cal State Fullerton. It is likely that Purdue did not need much of Edwards in this case, but it was Boilermakers rock at the end of the season. It would be good to face it against the Titans to make sure it is not rusted during the 12 days off. And besides being the leading free throw shooter, Allman is the top scorer for CSF and the best three-point shooter. For the Titans to achieve the miracle, he needs to be at the top of his game.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Purdue

    David Kenyon: Purdue

    Jason King: Purdue

    Kerry Miller: Purdue

    C.J. Moore: Purdue

3 of 32

      Landry Shamet

    Landry Shamet Chris Szagola / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 4 Wichita State vs. No. 13 Marshall (East Regional)

    Details : Friday at 1:30 p.m. M. ET (TNT) at the Viejas Arena in San Diego

    Wichita State wins if …

    The bounce margin is the statistics of the afternoon. Among all the teams in the tournament, Marshall has the worst rebound margin at minus-4.4 per game. Wichita State is at the opposite end of the spectrum, occupying third place in the nation with a plus of 9.8.

    The Shockers should have many second-chance opportunities, and they should keep Marshall with a ton of one-and-done possessions. Whenever Thundering Herd does not surpbad the Wichita State in an absurd amount, that should be enough to move forward.

    Marshall wins if …

    The perimeter defense of Wichita State remains his Achilles heel. The Shockers have had problems both forcing turnovers and avoiding three-point attempts, forcing 10 or fewer turnovers 15 times and allowing 10 or more 3-pointers 13 times.

    Against any other seed No. 13, that probably would not be a phrase death. But against Marshall a team that made at least 10 triple 22 times this season could be. Give the Thundering Pack enough open looks and they will make you pay.

    The most important players are …

    Rashard Kelly for Wichita State and Jon Elmore for Marshall. Even with the warning that they are the product of an offensive uptempo attack, the Elmore numbers (22.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 6.0 RPG) are simply dumb. He is the clear star of Marshall's three-headed attack. And if Wichita State is going to own the crystal as it should, Kelly could get 20 rebounds.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: State of Wichita

    David Kenyon: State of Wichita

    Jason King: State of Wichita

    Kerry Miller: State of Wichita [19659004] CJ Moore: State of Wichita

4 of 32

      Gary Clark

    Gary Clark Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press Matchup : No. 2 Cincinnati Vs. No. 15 State of Georgia (South Region)

    Details : Friday at 2 pm ET (TBS) in Nashville, Tennessee, at Bridgestone Arena

    Cincinnati wins if …

    You can reach a respectable number of triples. Georgia State combines it with its zone defense, blocking a large number of shots and keeping opponents to only 43.6 percent shooting in two-point attempts. But the Panthers relinquish many three-point shots as a result of that approach.

    Cincinnati rarely makes a living along the perimeter, but has many players who are capable of hitting that shot. Six Bearcats have made at least 25 trés this season. And for "respectable number of triples", we are talking about six or seven. You do not necessarily have to make it rain for 40 minutes.

    Cincinnati should also win this game in the offensive glbad. The Bearcats are third in the nation in percentage of offensive rebounds, while Georgia State is the last dead team in the teams of defensive champions.

    Georgia State wins if …

    D & # 39; Marcus Simonds takes over the game. The Georgia State star averages 21.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 badists and 1.7 steals per game. He is not very efficient (46.0 FG%, 3.6 turnovers per game), but he will work hard to get his cubes.

    And it's not an individual show. Four other Panthers shoot at least 38 percent from the three-point range and a better average than a tripled one per game. Again, they are not the most efficient offensive, but they do have a lot of scoring options. The Cincinnati defense is outstanding, but when you have four legitimate shooters, anything is possible.

    The most important players are …

    Gary Clark for Cincinnati and Simonds for Georgia State. Clark never gets the national attention he deserves, but he has been one of the nation's most valuable players for the past four years and has continued to improve during that time. It is easily the most efficient offense in Cincinnati and its best and most versatile defender.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Cincinnati

    David Kenyon: Cincinnati

    Jason King: Cincinnati

    Kerry Miller: Cincinnati

    C.J. Moore: Cincinnati

5 of 32

      Luke Maye

    Luke Maye Gerry Broome / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 15 Lipscomb (Western Regional)

    Details : Friday at 2:45 p.m. M. ET (CBS) at the Charlotte Spectrum Center

    [196590005] North Carolina wins if …

    Lipscomb does not suddenly have the shooting performance of the year.

    Undoubtedly, North Carolina's biggest weakness is the perimeter defense. Tar Heels rarely force turnovers, and protect the three-point line as well as a fishing net retains water. But Lipscomb only shoots 33.1 percent from the three-point range and has major turnover problems, making the Bison unlikely to capitalize.

    Lipscomb wins if …

    Is capable of fouling the game to the nth degree. The accelerated pace of Lipscomb will not bother North Carolina one iota, but its physicality could. The Bisons tie and commit a lot of fouls, scoring 10 p. Depth in almost all games to fit that style.

    North Carolina, on the other hand, prefers a clean and fluid game without fouls. If Lipscomb can do to North Carolina what South Carolina did to Kentucky earlier this season 59 total fouls, 74 free throw attempts in a disconcerting victory things could get interesting .

    The most important players are …

    Luke Maye of North Carolina and Garrison Matthews of Lipscomb. Maye averages a double-double for the Tar Heels, and his presence in the post will be key in this game. Matthews has an average of 22.1 points for Matthews and is one of the best in the country in terms of steals. If Lipscomb is going to turn this game into a disgusting festival, start with it.

    Predictions [19659000] David Gardner: North Carolina

    David Kenyon: North Carolina

    Jason King: North Carolina

    Kerry Miller: North Carolina

    C.J. Moore: North Carolina

6 of 32

      Daryl Macon

    Daryl Macon Michael Woods / Associated Press [196590003] Matchup : No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler (East Regional)

    Details : Friday at 3:10 p.m. ET (truTV) at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

    Arkansas wins if …

    His superior guards can exploit Butler's three-point defense. That is not asking much either. Both Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford are pitching at least 42.9 percent from the three-point range this season, and each has made at least 84 three-pointers. And D's three-point Butler (37.4 percent) would be the worst on the tournament field if it were not for TCU (37.9) and North Carolina (38.3).

    When Barford and Macon combine for at least seven three-pointers, Arkansas is 6 -0 this season, including victories over Auburn, Texas A & M and Oklahoma. And to think, "Well, maybe Butler has improved," the Bulldogs allowed Seton Hall and Villanova to shoot 23 of 52 (44.2 percent) from the center in the Big East tournament. In any case, Butler's three-point defense is getting worse.

    Butler wins if …

    You can discover how to handle Daniel Gafford. Kamar Baldwin and Kelan Martin can probably match Macon and Barford, if not overcome them completely. Nate Fowler can defend against Trey Thompson. And both Paul Jorgensen and Sean McDermott are better than Anton Beard and Co.

    But Gafford could be a real problem on both sides of the court. If Tyler Wideman is able to neutralize him and the Bulldogs can avoid his blocking blocker of shots, they should get the W.

    The most important players are …

    Gafford for Arkansas and Martin for Butler. The first had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in a February victory over Auburn. Again, neutralizing it is a big concern for Butler. The latter is the No. 1 player in this game that can activate a switch and take over at any time.

    Predictions [19659000] David Gardner: Arkansas

    David Kenyon: Butler

    Jason King: Butler

    Kerry Miller: Arkansas

    C.J. Moore: Arkansas

7 of 32

      Jevon Carter

    Jevon Carter Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Murray State (East Regional)

    Details : Friday at 4 p. M. ET (TNT) at the Viejas Arena in San Diego

    West Virginia wins if …

    Press Virginia does his thing and forces a lot of turnovers. Over the course of the season, Murray State is above average in the department of rotation in attack. And in both of the Racers' games against teams ranked in the top 50 in stealing percentage – South Illinois and Tennessee State stood their ground with only 23 turnovers combined.

    But there is a thin line between the Salukis and the Mountaineers in terms of pure physicality. And in the two Murray State games against Tennessee Tech, he coughed the ball 38 times. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when they will have trouble grabbing the ball, and West Virginia should be able to capitalize on that.

    Murray State Wins If …

    Seniors eviscerate the three-point defense of West Virginia. Jonathan Stark (21.8 PPG) is the most electric player you probably did not see this season, and averages 3.5 triples per game. His teammate Terrell Miller Jr. has a little more than two triples per game. And mountaineers allow opponents to shoot at 37.4 percent from the center of the city.

    And on the front "Try not to commit too many balls", Temetrius "Ja" Morant will be critical for runners. He has an average of 2.6 badists per turnover, but he had three games with at least five turnovers in the month of February. If it is able to withstand West Virginia pressure and turn it no more than three times, the annoying watch is on.

    The most important players are …

    Jevon Carter for West Virginia and Stark for Murray State. There is no need to be elegant here. These are the MVPs for their respective teams, regardless of the competition. If someone has a fiasco in this pairing, it will be a great advantage for the opposing team.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: West Virginia

    David Kenyon: West Virginia

    Jason King: West Virginia

    Kerry Miller: Murray State

    C.J. Moore: West Virginia

8 of 32

      Caleb Martin

    Caleb Martin L.E. Baskow / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Texas (South Regional)

    Details : Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET (TBS) at Bridgestone Arena of Nashville

    Nevada wins if

    The deep ball is falling. You do not need an applied mathematics degree to know that it's easier to win when you're shooting three points. But for Nevada, it is a kind of prerequisite for success. When the Wolf Pack gets at least 10 triples or shoots better than 40 percent from the center, they have an 18-1 mark. The only exception was an overtime game against Texas Tech, which is an impressive result for a loss.

    They suffered losses to the State of San Diego in two of their last three games because those shots were not going to enter. And Texas has a perimeter defense above average, so it can be hard to find the mark in this game. Considering how much this team throws three and how much they want to avoid the ridiculous size of Mohamed Bamba in the paint, he will have to generate a lot of triples and hope for the best.

    Texas wins if

    Continues to receive contributions from all sides. Five different Longhorns scored at least 17 points in one of the last three games. Most notably, Jacob Young came off the bench by 29 points against Texas Tech. The highest mark of his career in the second year was 14, so it would be a big blow if he suddenly is a big part of the offense.

    Basically, Texas can not anchor all its hopes and dreams in Bamba. Although it should be the main source of offense (and rebounds and blocks) against a team that does not have anyone taller than 6 & # 39; 8 "on its roster, Texas will need to get at least two other men. Dylan Osetkowski, Kerwin Roach, Matt Coleman or another person does not matter, because the Longhorns play a good defense, they are difficult to beat when three scorers appear.

    The most important players are

    Kendall Stephens for Nevada and Bamba for Texas If this is going to be a three-point contest for Nevada, Stephens should stand out, He made 118 three-pointers this season three more than Trae Young and converted 44.4 percent of his attempts, and although Bamba may not be the only guy to carry the Longhorns, he is likely to need him as the main player in this game.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Te xas

    David Kenyon: Nevada

    J King Ason: Nevada

    Kerry Miller: Nevada

    C.J. Moore: Texas

9 of 32

      Marcus Foster

    Marcus Foster Nati Harnik / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Kansas State (Southern Regional)

    Details : Friday at 6:50 p.m. M. ET (TNT) at the Charlotte Spectrum Center

    Creighton wins if

    Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas leave. This is one of the best background duos in the nation, and the duos of the defense zone are what the NCAA tournament is all about. Thomas is a three-point shooter with a 40.9 percent ERA, and Foster is hitting 42.2 percent of his long-range shots this season. In Creighton's victory over Villanova at the end of February, they were combined for 52 points. You probably do not need to do much in this game; 40 seems to be a reasonable magic number.

    Another fundamental approach for Creighton will be to avoid turnovers. Kansas State quietly has the sixth highest percentage of robberies in the country and the figures are quite annoying for these guards. But Creighton usually does a good job of keeping turnovers to a minimum.

    The state of Kansas wins if

    Dean Wade and Barry Brown are close to 100 percent and dominate in painting. Creighton has an excellent defense zone, but his situation in the attacking zone has been serious since he lost Martin Krampelj to a knee injury in January. Greg McDermott decided to burn Jacob Epperson's red shirt just to have a big body in the paint.

    But Wade missed the Big 12 semifinal with a foot injury and Brown is dealing with an eye injury, which means Kansas State primary sources. The dotted buckets may not be at full strength. Makol Mawien is a candidate to take charge of the low as well. He has averaged 19.7 points in his last three games, including a 29-point performance with Wade against Kansas. As long as the Wildcats repeatedly get two-point cubes, they should win.

    The most important players are

    Foster Creighton and Wade for the state of Kansas. It is not necessary to repeat the newly made points, but these are clearly the two players most likely to dictate the result of this.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Creighton

    David Kenyon: Creighton

    Jason King: Creighton

    Kerry Miller: Creighton

    CJ Moore: Creighton

10 32

      Miles Bridges

    Miles Bridges Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Bucknell (Midwest Regional)

    Details : Friday at 7:10 p.m. M. ET (CBS) at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

    The state of Michigan wins if

    Controls the painting as it usually does. Michigan State is the the best shot-blocking team in the country. He is also one of the best in the offensive glbad and scores efficiently in the paint. There is a reason why this team has been so consistently good despite their billing problems.

    Bucknell has some good players, but he lacks anything close to a Miles Bridges or a Jaren Jackson Jr., as long as those guys commit from the opening suggestion, this could get ugly.

    Bucknell wins if

    The referees are absurdly quick with the whistle. Bucknell thrives by stealing fouls and getting to the free throw line -w we are talking about 17.8 points per game of the charity franchise. Zach Thomas fouls the fifth highest rate in the country. And both Jackson and Nick Ward have had more than a fair amount of foul trouble this season. If the Bison can keep those two from having a big impact by forcing them into the bench, we'll have a ball game.

    Beyond that, Bucknell needs to start cooking his Big Three early and often. Thomas, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown have combined for 50.6 points and 19.7 rebounds per game, but must overcome both marks to knock out the powerful Spartans.

    The most important players are

    Cbadius Winston for Michigan State and Thomas for Bucknell. While not the best player on the team, Winston is the most important player for the state of Michigan. If you can keep the rotation margin in good shape, the Spartans can beat anyone. And Thomas is the top scorer and rebounder of the Bison, so they will need a gigantic performance from him.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: State of Michigan

    David Kenyon: State of Michigan [19659005] Jason King: State of Michigan

    Kerry Miller: State of Michigan

    CJ Moore: State of Michigan

11 of 32

      Kyle Guy

    Kyle Guy Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 1 Virginia Vs. No. 16 UMBC (Southern Regional)

    Details : Friday at 9:20 p.m. ET (TNT) at Charlotte & # 39; s Spectrum Center

    [196590005] Virginia wins if

    De & # 39; Andre Hunter is the only devastating injury he suffers this week.

    In case you missed the news Tuesday afternoon, Hunter will miss the tournament with his broken wrist. The freshman student in the red shirt had turned into the Swiss army knife of Virginia from the bank. He only played about 20 minutes per game, but his versatility and length were key factors in this pack line defense playing at its peak.

    But the initial five are still intact, and the Cavaliers still have some valuable reserves in Mamadi. Diakite and Nigel Johnson. Losing Hunter can damage them in the long term, but as long as they do not lose some more players in this game, they should at least reach the second round.

    UMBC wins if

    It is unconscious from the three point range.

    UMBC has drilled at least 10 trimesters in 21 games this season, including 14 of 28 nights against Arizona in November. Okay, the Wildcats defeated the Retrievers in that game, but could Virginia's offense withstand 14 three-pointers against their defense?

    Many times over the past few years, you've certainly heard some form of "At 10 points" the deficit against Virginia feels like a 30-point deficit against any other team. "But a three-point cube against Virginia feels as a four point against any other team as the game is likely to be played in the 50s or 60s.

    If UMBC had to make at least 12 three-pointers, it would be the first opponent to do it against Virginia this year and just the fourth to do so from the start of the 2011-12 season, it would also be a game very close to comfort for the No. 1 seed.

    The most important players are … [19659004] Ty Jerome for Virginia and Jairus Lyles for UMBC Kyle Guy is the top scorer for Virginia, but Jerome is the leader and the best defender on the perimeter and will be tasked with stopping the UMBC three-point badault, led by Lyles The Retriever surpbaded 3 0 points four times this season, including the aforementioned Arizona game. If you're stroking it, UMBC at least has a snowball probability in the story.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Virginia

    David Kenyon: Virginia

    Jason King: Virginia

    Kerry Miller: Virginia

    CJ Moore: Virginia

12 of 32

      Trevon Bluiett

    Trevon Bluiett Aaron Doster / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (West Regional)

    Details : Friday at 7:20 p.m. ET (TBS) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville

    Xavier wins if …

    Can stop the Texas Southern pocket player. Demontrae Jefferson is only 5 "7", but receives more cubes per inch than any other in the country He had 25 points in the first game against North Carolina Central, which is a bit more than his season average of 23.4 points.

    The Musketeers do not necessarily have to stop him to win this game, Jefferson scored at least 20 points in nine of his first 10 games this season, but the Tigers lost all 10 of those games, the hot start could ensure that this is not un juego cerrado en la segunda mitad.

    Victorias del sur de Texas si …

    El horario sin conferencias brutales vale la pena.

    Texas Southern Los Tigres jugaron 13 partidos consecutivos como visitantes, incluyendo Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Clemson, TCU, Baylor, Syracuse y otros seis equipos en el KenPom top 200.

    fue 0-13 y perdió por un margen promedio de 15.9 puntos, pero hizo todos esos juegos contra opon entes de calibre de torneo ayudarlos a prepararse para este momento? Texas Southern ciertamente vio más oponentes de este tipo que cualquiera de las otras semillas No. 16.

    Los jugadores más importantes son …

    Trevon Bluiett para Xavier y Jefferson para Texas Southern. Bluiett anotó al menos 22 puntos en siete de sus últimos 10 partidos, pero el último juego fue difícil, con solo 2 de 14 desde el campo. Conseguirlo en este podría ser importante para Xavier a largo plazo. Y a pesar de que Texas Southern tiene tres transferencias clave de programas más grandes (Auburn, Mbadachusetts y Oregon State), es el estudiante de segundo año firmado originalmente por Mike Davis que podría hacer las cosas interesantes.

    Predicciones

    David Gardner: Xavier

    David Kenyon: Xavier

    Jason King: Xavier

    Kerry Miller: Xavier

    C.J. Moore: Xavier

13 de 32

     Bryce Brown y Mustapha Heron

    Bryce Brown y Mustapha Heron Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

    Matchup : No. 4 Auburn vs. Núm. 13 Colegio de Charleston (Midwest Regional)

    Detalles : Viernes a las 7:27 p. M. ET (truTV) en Viejas Arena de San Diego

    Auburn gana si

    Controla el ritmo de juego y protege la pintura. Auburn jugó en el tempo 21º más rápido ajustado tempo esta temporada, mientras que el Colegio de Charleston ocupó el 323º lugar. Cualquiera de los equipos podría tener problemas serios para encontrar su ritmo si este juego no se juega a su ritmo preferido.

    Pero supongamos que dividen la diferencia y juegan un juego de 68 posesiones. Auburn todavía podía dominar defendiendo en el puesto. The Tigers aren't nearly as great of a shot-blocking team since losing Anfernee McLemore to a leg injury, but they do still have Horace Spencer and Chuma Okeke as outstanding rebounders and somewhat frequent shot-blockers. They'll miss McLemore at some point in the tournament, but the remaining frontcourt duo ought to be enough against the Cougars.

    College of Charleston Wins If

    Auburn's offense continues to struggle. Early in the season, the Tigers were lighting up the scoreboard on most nights. During one stretch of five wins at the turn of the calendar year, they scored at least 85 in each game, including an incredible 94-84 performance at Tennessee. Lately, though, Auburn has been a bit anemic, punctuated by a 63-point showing in the blowout loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament.

    College of Charleston is not a good defensive team. If Auburn recaptures its December form, a 25-point blowout would be in play. But with the way this team has been (not) scoring in its last six gamesand with the drastic contrast in pace of play potentially causing fits for Auburn—a big upset could be in the making.

    Most Important Players Are

    Jared Harper for Auburn and Joe Chealey for College of Charleston. These two players will be tasked with dictating the pace of play. They each also rank within the top three on their respective teams in scoring, and they're both well above 80 percent from the free-throw line.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Auburn

    David Kenyon: Auburn

    Jason King: College of Charleston

    Kerry Miller: College of Charleston

    C.J. Moore: Auburn

14 of 32

    Alex Robinson Jr. and Vladimir Brodziansky

    Alex Robinson Jr. and Vladimir BrodzianskyAssociated Press

    Matchup: No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Syracuse (Midwest Region)

    Details: Friday at 9:40 p.m. ET (CBS) in Detroit's Little Caesars Arena

                  

    TCU Wins If…

    Assist rate is a major factor. TCU ranks sixth in the nation in that category on offense, while Syracuse ranks dead last on defense. A lot of teams have trouble with the 2-3 zone because they only know how to run dribble-drive or ball-screen action, but the Horned Frogs should be more than content with pbading the ball around until something opens up.

    Moreover, Vladimir Brodziansky is a better-than-average shooter for a man of his height. He makes 63.8 percent of his two-point attempts and 82.0 percent of his free-throw attempts. There's a good chance he could be the zone buster, getting entry pbades at the elbow before converting in the paint. Even if it's a tough night for Brodziansky, TCU is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country, so scoring shouldn't be that difficult.

    Syracuse Wins If…

    It can make some perimeter shots against a dreadful defense. Opponents shoot 37.9 percent from three-point range against the Horned Frogs, but Syracuse only makes 32.1 percent of its attempts. Among teams who made the tournament, only Texas (31.5 percent) is worse.

    But even the Longhorns were able to find their stroke against TCU, shooting 10-of-20 from downtown in one of two games against their Big 12 foe. And for as bad as they are in terms of percentages, the Orange have three guys who have made at least 50 triples in Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard.

    Most Important Players Are…

    Alex Robinson for TCU and Brissett for Syracuse. Robinson is the point guard who will determine how well TCU fares in the badist department. And in addition to making some threes, Brissett is Syracuse's primary defensive rebounder and a great free-throw shooter.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Syracuse

    David Kenyon: Syracuse

    Jason King: TCU

    Kerry Miller: Syracuse

    C.J. Moore: Syracuse

15 of 32

    Kbadius Robertson

    Kbadius RobertsonJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Florida State (West Regional)

    Details: Friday at 9:50 p.m. ET (TBS) in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena

                  

    Missouri Wins If

    It abuses Florida State's three-point defense. The Tigers are one of just three teams who rank in the top 30 nationally in both three-point percentage and three-point rate. (The others are Villanova and Davidson.)

    With Jordan Barnett (82 made threes) suspended for this game, perhaps Missouri won't be quite so dependent on the perimeter. Then again, Barnett's absence likely means Michael Porter Jr. will start and play more than 23 minutes, which might mean even more three-point attempts than usual. Who knows? What we do know is that FSU ranks 254th in three-point field-goal defense, so a good number of Missouri's shots should fall.

    Florida State Wins If

    It capitalizes on Missouri's turnover woes. The Seminoles aren't typically a ball-hawking defense, nor do they have the most sure-handed guards in the country. But Missouri ranks outside the top 300 nationally in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage. The Tigers have had a turnover margin of minus-nine or worse in six games, resulting in five losses.

    Florida State also could open up a sizable advantage on the offensive glbad. Even though Missouri has two great big men in Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon, this team is just average with its defensive rebounding. Mfiondu Kabengele, Christ Koumadje and Ike Obiagusay those names three times fastcould create a lot of second-chance opportunities.

    Most Important Players Are

    Kbadius Robertson for Missouri and Terance Mann for Florida State. If you want to put Porter in this spot for Mizzou, go for it. But if we're baduming threes are the game plan here, the guy who has made 99 of them at a 42.5 percent clip is probably important. And in addition to helping out on the offensive glbad, Mann used to be FSU's badertive scoring machine. However, he has averaged just 6.9 points in his last eight games. That won't cut it in this one.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Missouri

    David Kenyon: Missouri

    Jason King: Florida State

    Kerry Miller: Missouri

    C.J. Moore: Missouri

16 of 32

    Marcquise Reed

    Marcquise ReedRichard Shiro/Associated Press

    Matchup: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (Midwest Regional)

    Details: Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET (truTV) in San Diego's Viejas Arena

                  

    Clemson Wins If

    The "Nobody Believes in Us" factor is a real thing.

    Back before the Donte Grantham injury in late January, Clemson was legitimately one of the best teams in the country. But with five losses in its last eight games, this team is clearly trending in the wrong direction. Because of thatand because New Mexico State is arguably the best No. 12 seedit seems like at least 90 percent of the national badysts are picking the Aggies to win this game.

    Can Clemson use that for motivation? After all, it's not like this team has been awful. The Tigers were tied with Duke in the final two minutes of that loss. And after Virginia waxed them in their first game without Grantham, 61-36, they put up quite the fight against the Cavaliers (64-58) in the ACC tournament.

    New Mexico State Wins If

    Clemson's offense remains a weakness. The Tigers were never an unstoppable force, but they used to be consistent about putting points on the board. Over the first 18 games of the season, they scored at least 70 points in all but two gamesone of which was a 64-48 win over snail-paced South Carolina.

    Lately, though, this offense has been a disaster. Clemson was held to 58 points or fewer in four of its last seven games, all losses. Yes, three of those games (Duke, Syracuse and Virginia) were against top-15 defenses, but guess what? New Mexico State ranks 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and it held both Miami and Davidson in check (61.0 PPG) in the Diamond Head Clbadic.

    Most Important Players Are

    Marcquise Reed for Clemson and Jemerrio Jones for New Mexico State. If the Tigers are going to get rolling on offense, it starts with Reed. But Jones could be the story here. The 6'5" forward averages 13.2 rebounds per game for the season, but he pulled in 16.1 per game over his last 13 outings. Against a Clemson team that is just average on the glbad, Jones can be a game-changer.

    Predictions

    David Gardner: Clemson

    David Kenyon: New Mexico State

    Jason King: New Mexico State

    Kerry Miller: New Mexico State

    C.J. Moore: New Mexico State

17 of 32

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Fatts Russell sparked Rhode Island's 83-78 victory over Oklahoma, knocking down a trio of three-pointers and badisting on another during the second half.

    The Rams overcame a six-point deficit and eventually won in overtime, taking the lead after E.C. Matthews shook Sooners star Trae Young for the go-ahead three with 1:52 to go. They never trailed again.

    Young racked up 28 points and seven badists, but his teammates finished a meager 20-of-51 from the floor and 1-of-11 beyon d the ar c.

        

    Top Performers

    Matthews scored a team-high 16 points, though four Rhode Island players reached double figures. Russell had 15, Cyril Langevine added 14 and Jared Terrell finished with 13. Young paced the Sooners, while Jamuni McNeace collected 14 points and 10 rebounds.

    X-Factor

    Russell entered the contest as a 28.1 percent three-point shooter, but his long-range contributions swung the game in Rhode Island's favor.

    Next Round

    The Rams will face No. 2 Duke in the round of 32. 

        

    Updated by David Kenyon

18 of 32

    Grant Williams

    Grant WilliamsJames Crisp/Associated Press

    Tennessee controlled its first-round matchup and painlessly dispatched Wright State 73-47 Thursday afternoon.

    Lamonte Turner ambaded 19 points and nine badists for the Volunteers, who limited the Raiders to a 31.7 clip from the field. The No. 14 seed connected on just four of its 21 three-point tries.

    Other than trailing 2-0 in the opening moments of the contest, Tennessee never trailed throughout the game. The Vols shot an even 45 percent overall.

    Top Performers

    Turner paced UT, but Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams both had a productive showing. Schofield registered 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Williams notched 14 and nine, respectively. Loudon Love led Wright State with 12 points and nine boards.

    X-Factor

    The Volunteers dominated the glbad, earning a 43-29 advantage on the day. Four Tennessee players snatched at least seven rebounds, while only Love and Grant Benzinger managed more than four for Wright State.

    Next Round

    Tennessee will meet  No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the second round.

    Updated by David Kenyon

19 of 32

    Killian Tillie

    Killian TillieEthan Miller/Getty Images

    Well, that could've been bad for brackets.

    Gonzaga needed all 40 minutes to survive a tremendous effort from 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro, which held a 64-62 advantage with less than 120 seconds remaining in the game.

    However, Josh Perkins evened the score before Zach Norvell Jr. put the Bulldogs in front for good. He added a free throw to seal a 68-64 triumph for the Zags.

    Top Performers

    Johnathan Williams collected 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Perkins contributed 16 and Norvell tallied 15. They accounted for 50 of Gonzaga's 68 points. Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy both scored 16 points for UNC Greensboro.

    X-Factor

    Gonzaga shot a dreadful 52 percent from the charity stripe, but Norvell buried seven of his eight attempts. His last free throw handed the Bulldogs a four-point edge, icing the result.

    Next Round

    No. 5 Ohio State  will challenge Gonzaga in the second round.

    Updated by David Kenyon

20 of 32

    Devonte' Graham and Silvio De Sousa

    Devonte' Graham and Silvio De SousaJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Penn put a serious scare into Kansas, but the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region survived the Ivy League champions.

    Although the Jayhawks trailed by as many as 10 points during the first half, they put together a 22-5 run to enter the locker room with a 33-26 lead. Penn was within four points midway through the second half, but Kansas ultimately pulled away for a 76-60 victory.

    The Quakers might not have won anyway, but an ugly 5-of-14 performance at the free-throw line certainly didn't help.

    Top Performers

    Devonte' Graham battled an inefficient day, yet he still accumulated 29 points, six badists and six rebounds. Five more Kansas players scored at least nine points, including Lagerald Vick with 14. Penn received 14 from both Caleb Wood and AJ Brodeur.

    X-Factor

    Udoka Azubuike, who is battling a left knee injury, was only available in emergency. Bill Self decided that emergency happened when Penn led early, but nine points and 11 rebounds from Mitch Lightfoot reduced the need for Azubuike and limited him to three minutes.

    Next Round

    Kansas will clash with No. 8 Seton Hall or No. 9 North Carolina State during the second round.

    Updated by David Kenyon

21 of 32

    Marvin Bagley III

    Marvin Bagley IIIJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    No. 2 Duke overwhelmed No. 15 Iona with a barrage of three-point shots to move on to the round of 32 with an 89-67 victory.

    The Blue Devils started hot from the field, and they went into the locker room with 53 points and a 14-point lead over the Gaels.

    The strong shooting continued into the second half, with Marvin Bagley III, Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval leading the Blue Devils to a 13-of-30 day from beyond the arc.

    Iona tried to hold its own in Pittsburgh, but it didn't have enough to keep up with the talented freshmen on the Duke roster.

    Top Performers

    Bagley led the Blue Devils with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Duval added 19 points of his own in his first NCAA tournament game.

    Allen, the lone experienced hand in the starting lineup, contributed 16 points, with 12 of them coming from three-point range.

    Iona had four players eclipse the 10-point mark, with Roland Griffin leading the team with 21 points off the bench.

    X-Factor

    Wendell Carter didn't score as much as the other freshmen on Duke's roster, but he provided solid play on the boards, picking up eight rebounds to go along with nine points.

    Next Round

    Duke plays No. 7 Rhode Island in the round of 32 on Saturday.

    –Updated by Joe Tansey

22 of 32

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Donte Ingram's three-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining sent No. 11 Loyola-Chicago to the round of 32 with a 64-62 win over No. 6 Miami.

    The Ramblers pushed down the court on their final offensive possession after Lonnie Walker missed the front end of his one-and-one.

    The Missouri Valley Conference champion opted not to call a timeout, and Ingram knocked down an open look from the top of the key to give the Ramblers their first NCAA tournament victory since 1985. 

             

    Top Performers

    Ingram was one of four Loyola players to reach double digits, as he scored 13 points, with nine of them coming from three-point range.

    Clayton Custer, who tied the game at 60-60 with a three-pointer, led the Ramblers with 14 points.

    Walker was Miami's top scorer with 12 points, while Ja'Quan Newton and Dewan Huell added 11 each.

                      

    X-Factor

    Loyola freshman center Cameron Krutwig added 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and an badist in his first NCAA tournament appearance.

                    

    Next Round

    Loyola will go for its second upset Saturday against No. 3 Tennessee.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey 

23 of 32

    Keita Bates-Diop

    Keita Bates-DiopPaul Vernon/Associated Press

    No. 5 Ohio State used an 11-3 run to finish off an 81-73 win over No. 12 South Dakota State.

    After the Jackrabbits tied the game at 70-70 with 1:53 to go, Kam Williams completed a four-point play and knocked down three additional free throws 22 seconds later to create distance.

    South Dakota State deserves credit for even getting a chance to pull off an upset, as it was down nine points with seven minutes left in the game.

           

    Top Performers

    Williams scored seven key points down the stretch to fend off the upset-minded Jackrabbits.

    He was one of three Ohio State players who scored more than 20 points, as Keita Bates-Diop led the charge with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

    Mike Daum led all scorers with 27 points in defeat for the Summit League champions.

    X-Factor

    Andrew Dakich did all the little things on both sides of the court to provide the Buckeyes with an extra advantage.

    Dakich totaled five points, four rebounds, four badists and three steals.

               

    Next Round

    Ohio State will play No. 4 Gonzaga in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday.

         

    —Updated by Joe Tansey

24 of 32

    Angel Delgado

    Angel DelgadoNati Harnik/Associated Press

    Although they weren't up by much for the duration of their first-round win, the No. 8 Seton Hall Pirates were in control from start to finish in their 94-83 victory over the No. 9 NC State Wolfpack.

    NC State got within three points of Kevin Willard's Pirates in the second half, but the Big East team pulled away with an 8-0 run immediately after the Wolfpack made things interesting.

    The victory was the first in the NCAA tournament for Seton Hall since 2004, and it achieved that without the presence of Angel Delgado in the paint, who was dealing with foul trouble.

              

    Top Performers

    Khadeen Carrington led the Pirates with 26 points, while Desi Rodriguez contributed 20.

    Carrington and Myles Powell combined to go 21-of-25 at the free-throw line as Seton Hall finished off its ACC foe.

    Allerik Freeman netted a career-high 36 points in defeat for NC State.

               

    X-Factor

    With Delgado on the bench in foul trouble, Ismael Sanogo recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

                 

    Next Round

    Seton Hall takes on No. 1 Kansas in Saturday's second round.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey

25 of 32

    Mikal Bridges

    Mikal BridgesChris Szagola/Associated Press

    No surprise here. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges dominated as the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats easily disposed of the Radford Highlanders, 87-61. The Wildcats built a 21-point lead by halftime then extended that in the second half on the strength of 59.6 percent shooting from the field, with six players hitting double digits.

    Radford was looking for a big game from junior guard Ed Polite Jr. He was impactful on the offensive glbad, with six rebounds (eight total), but contributed just six points on 3-of-10 shooting.

    Top Performers

    Brunson finished as the game's leading scorer with 16 points, while Bridges had 13. Sophomore guard Donald Hicks impressed for Radford with 13 points despite finishing with five fouls.

    X-Factor

    The deep Wildcats team stayed dangerous no matter who was on the court. Freshman forward Omari Spellman made an impact with 10 points and seven boards.

    Next Round

    The Wildcats will face No. 9 Alabama in the second round.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

26 of 32

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

    Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Closer than it should have been in the battle of Wildcats vs. Wildcats, three-point shooting was nearly the undoing of Kentucky, who went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc on their way to a 78073 win over Davidson in the South Region.

    Davidson shot 9-for-30 from long range, keeping it close in the second half before the Wildcats took advantage of sharp free-throw shooting to secure their victory. All told, Kentucky was 24-for-30 from the line, while Davidson was 12 for 15.

    Top Performers

    Freshman Kevin Knox went 7-for-9 from the line, making key free throws down the stretch and logging a team-high 23 points. Sophomore guard Jon Axel Gudmunsson went 6-for-10 from three-point territory on his way to a team-leading 21 points for Davidson.

    X-Factor

    You can't win without threes in modern basketball, but Kentucky pulled it off. Thursday's win is the first time in more than 1,000 games that the Wildcats haven't sunk a single shot from long range. John Calipari will need to find a way to change that up in the second round.

    Next Round

    The Wildcats No. 13 Buffalo in the second round.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

27 of 32

    Rob Gray

    Rob GrayAssociated Press

    Senior guard Rob Gray led the way with 39 points and eight rebounds as the Houston Cougars hung on to beat the San Diego State Aztecs, 67-65, in West Regional action in Wichita, Kansas.

    Though the Cougars trailed only briefly—early in the first half—the Aztecs kept it interesting, erasing a 10-point halftime deficit to tie the game twice in the last 1:08. Gray's layup with two seconds left decided the game.

    Top Performers

    It's all Gray. He went 12-of-25 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point land. Add in 11 free throws and eight rebounds, and he was easily the game's MVP.

    For the Aztecs, freshman Jalen McDaniels shot just 4-of-11 from the field but still led his team with 18 points. Two other players hit double figures (Malik Pope and Trey Kell).

    X-Factor

    Devin Watson made two clutch threes for San Diego State to keep the pressure on in those dying minutes. The junior guard finished with nine points, but six of them came in the final 1:08.

    Next Round

    The Cougars will face No. 3 Michigan in the second round Saturday.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

28 of 32

    Keenan Evans

    Keenan EvansJohn Weast/Getty Images

    The battle of Texas went down to the wire before the Texas Tech Red Raiders disposed of Stephen F. Austin, 70-60, in first-round play in Dallas.

    The upset-minded Lumberjacks took a three-point lead into halftime and looked like they could bust the bracket in the East Regional before the Red Raiders rallied late. Zhaire Smith logged just 10 points for Texas Tech, but one monster dunk in each half were game highlights.

    Top Performers

    Perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line highlighted senior Keenan Evans' 23 points for Texas Tech. Lumberjacks guard Ivan Canete did his best to match Evans by putting up 17 points, including a 6-of-6 performance from the line.

    X-Factor

    The composed Red Raiders outscored the Lumberjacks 11-2 once they took the lead for good on an Evans layup with 3:58 to play. Smith provided the fireworks with his dunks, but workmanlike free-throw shooting made the difference.

    Next Round

    The Red Raiders will face No. 6 Florida in the second round Saturday.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

29 of 32

    Collin Sexton

    Collin SextonAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Colin Sexton led the way with 25 points as the Alabama Crimson Tide squeezed past the Virginia Tech Hokies to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

    Shot-blocking was expected to be a big issue in this game for the Hokies, but it wasn't. The final stat line favored Alabama just 3-1. The Crimson Tide overcame a two-point deficit at halftime on the strength of better overall shooting and manufacturing chances at the foul line.

    Top Performers

    Sexton was 10-of-14 shooting free throws and had six badists to go along with his strong work from the field for Alabama. Justin Robinson led the way for Virginia Tech with 19 points but fouled out in the late going, as did Kerry Blackshear Jr.

    X-Factor

    Off the bench, freshman John Petty chipped in 20 points for Alabama on 6-of-9 shooting.

    Next Round

    The Crimson Tide will face No. 1 seed Villanova in the second round.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

30 of 32

    Wes Clark

    Wes ClarkKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In the biggest upset of the 2018 NCAA tournament so far, the Buffalo Bulls outscored the powerhouse Arizona Wildcats by 19 points in the second half on their way to an 89-68 win in the South Region bracket in Boise, Idaho.

    The beleaguered Wildcats had trouble defending against the aggressive Bulls, who shot 54.8 percent from the field.

    Top Performers

    Buffalo's two-pronged attack was led by senior guard Wes Clark, who had 25 points. Junior Jeremy Harris was right behind with 23. 

    Seven-foot Serbian center Dusan Ristic was Arizona's top scorer, with 16 points.

    X-Factor

    Long-range shooting was the ticket for Buffalo. Both teams attempted a similar number of field goals—62 for the Bulls, 64 for the Wildcats. But Buffalo bet heavy on the long ball, attempting 30 of those shots from long range and making 15. Arizona tried 18 and made just two.

        

    Next Round

    The Bulls will face No. 5 seed Kentucky in the second round.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

31 of 32

    Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

    Muhammad-Ali Abdur-RahkmanAssociated Press

    Tough defense helped the Michigan Wolverines overcome an unexpected challenge to defeat the Montana Grizzlies 61-47 in the first round of their West Region bracket on Thursday.

    Montana scored the first 10 points of the game before Michigan got into gear. By halftime, the Wolverines had grabbed a three-point lead, and they limited the Grizzlies to just 19 points in the second half.

    Top Performers

    In a low-scoring game, junior guard Charles Matthews stood out for Michigan, leading his team with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. For Montana, Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie drove the offense with 15 points each.

       

    X-Factor

    That crucial first basket by Matthews, who got Michigan off the schneid 4:16 into the game. Beyond that, the Wolverines did a good job of keeping shot options tough for the Grizzlies, who shot just 32.1 percent from the field.

    Next Round

    Michigan will face sixth-seeded Houston in the second round.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

32 of 32

    KeVaughn Allen

    KeVaughn AllenJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    The underdogs gave it everything they had, but in the end, No. 6 Florida prevailed over No. 11 St. Bonaventure, 77-62.

    The Gators went cold in the first half, allowing the Bonnies to take a 22-21 lead after a 13-1 run, but Florida built a five-point cushion by intermission and took control in the second half.

    Top Performers

    Senior guard Egor Koulechov delivered under pressure, going 4-of-10 from three-point territory on his way to a team-leading 20 points for Florida. Chris Chiozza added 11 badists.

    Three starters hit double digits for St. Bonaventure, led by 14 points from Courtney Stockard.

    X-Factor

    The Gators played great defense, limiting the Bonnies to just 48 field-goal tries and a 35.4 percent success rate. Blocked shots weren't a significant factor, but Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen each had three steals.

    Next Round

    The Gators will face No. 3 Texas Tech in the second round Saturday.

    —Updated by Carol Schram


Source link