March Madness is here and the First Four games helped set the stage for what’s coming. The First Round games begin today, with several interesting matchups on the schedule.
Gonzaga In a Tough Spot
First meets last today when the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs face the 16th seeded Georgia State Panthers in Portland, Oregon. This is the first round in the NCAAF tournament’s West Region. With an average score of 88.3 per game, Gonzaga ranks first in scoring in the country. With 52.4% field goal success, the Bulldogs are second in the country and have the 22nd highest 3-point shooting percentage of 37.8%.
Gonzaga finished the regular season with a record of 26-3. They also won two consecutive games against Saint Mary’s, who lost the last game of the regular season before the conference tournament. The team hopes to do better than it did last year and is going to be highly motivated tonight.
Gonzaga to win.
Tar Heels Gain Momentum
Today, the North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Marquette Golden Eagles. Virginia Tech defeated the Heels in the ACC Tournament. The Heels came out flat on offense and were unable to defend well enough. Marquette’s Big East Tournament trip was cut short by a loss to Creighton. There is a big difference between the two teams. UNC had a six-game winning streak before their loss.
UNC has faced only two teams this season who are better at stealing balls, and those are Tennessee and Miami. Although turnovers were not the most difficult problem for UNC in these games, points from turnovers could still severely impact their chances of reaching the round of 32. The Golden Eagles are a formidable opponent and some could argue that the Heels have gotten this far by luck. However, North Carolina has a history of successful clutch performances.
Heels win in a close game.
St. Mary’s Becomes Cinderella Team
The Hoosiers are on their second leg of the NCAA tournament run, which could prove to be one of the most exciting. The Hoosiers defeated Wyoming in Dayton in their First Four match and now they are in Portland to face the St. Mary’s Gaels in an East Region match.
Indiana’s strength lies in its defense. However, the Gaels have better defensive statistics that the Hoosiers. Saint Mary’s is 12th in scoring defense (60 points per game), and ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency (allowing only 90.9 points per 100 possessions). That is going to make the difference.
St. Mary’s to win.
Akron Turns Up the Heat
The UCLA Bruins and Akron Zips meet Thursday night. Akron is currently 24-9 for the year. Saturday’s conference tourney activity saw the Zips defeat Kent State. UCLA is currently at 25-7 and lost to Arizona in its last game. That could be a sign of what’s to come tonight.
Akron began the year at 2-3, but quickly rose to above.500 in wins. After a three-game losing streak in February by the Zips, they have been on an eight-game winning streak. After Saturday’s conference tourney win for the title, the Zips are proving to be trouble.
In the last of our college football picks, Akron takes the win.