These are what everyone lives for: Upsets, shockers, Cinderella stories, and buzzer beaters. This is why it’s called March Madness! So let’s look at some possible upsets in the first round (the Round of 64, actually) of the NCAA Tournament. Unlike in previous seasons, I don’t see many dramatic upsets in the first round. In fact, I only have three, all of which are 9s beating 8s.
#9 Purdue vs. #8 Cincinatti
The Purdue Boilermakers (21-12) will face the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10) at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday, March 19th. This Round of 64 game tips off at 4:10 PM Las Vegas time, and will air on CBS. Purdue has wins this season over tournament teams BYU, Iowa, Indiana (twice), and Ohio State. Cincinnati beat Ole Miss, NC State, San Diego State, and SMU earlier in the season, but got knocked out in the first round of its conference tournament by UConn, which failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Finally, Purdue played the much tougher schedule down the stretch, and will win here.
#9 LSU vs. #8 NC State
The LSU Tigers (22-10) take on the NC State Wolfpack (20-13) at the Thursday, March 19th at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tipoff is at 6:20 PM Las Vegas time, and airs on TBS. LSU beat Arkansas and Ole Miss down the stretch, and came within seconds of beating undefeated Kentucky, losing 69-71. NC State was blown out by Duke in the conference tournament, but did beat North Carolina and Louisville in the last month of the season. NC State Wolfpac guard Anthony Barber (12.1 ppg & 3.3 rpg) is probable for the game with LSU, and has been cleared to play after suffering a spasm in his neck. However, expect that injury to still impact Barber on Thursday. In their last five games, LSU has outscored its opponents by an average of almost 4 points per game, while NC State has been outscored by an average of 2 points. LSU wins and advances on Thursday.
#9 St. John’s vs. 8 San Diego State
The St. John’s Red Storm (21-11) takes on the San Diego State Aztecs (26-8) at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday, March 20, at 6:40 PM Las Vegas time, a game airing on CBS. St. John’s was 7-3 in its last 10 games straight up, beating such tournament teams as Georgetown and Xavier, but did lose its final two games to Providence and Villanova. Also, the Red Storm lost defensive standout center Chris Obekpa for two weeks because of a failed drug test. San Diego State plays in a much weaker conference than St. John’s, and lost to the other two Mountain West tournament teams, Boise State and Wyoming, in its last six game stretch. Finally, the location for this game definitely favors St. John’s, who outclass San Diego State on Friday.
Some teams to watch out for in the Round of 64 are: Texas, Indiana, BYU, Ohio State, and Georgia. Any of these could surprise and advance to the next round.
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