The NCAA has finally released the bracket for the Preseason NIT, the last remaining early season tournament that is truly a 16 team tournament. Where as most events guarantee the pod host — one of the four high-profile teams in the event — a spot in the semifinals, the programs partaking in the NIT have to earn their way to Madison Square Garden.
First and foremost, here is the bracket:
The matchup that everyone will be rooting for is a final between Duke and Arizona on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a game that would pit two teams that could sneak into the preseason top five.
It’s no guarantee, however. Arizona will be locking horns with a Rhode Island team that should be much improved this season and is dangerous enough that they could spring an early-season upset of the Wildcats, especially if it takes some time for Aaron Gordon to adjust to the college level.
Duke should be able to make their way out of their pod, where they will likely faceoff with Alabama in the semifinals. The Crimson Tide lost some talent this offseason, with Trevor Lacey and Devonta Pollard no longer a part of the program, but with Trever Releford leading a veteran back court, Anthony Grant’s club shouldn’t be a pushover.
But they may also get knocked off before they can even reach MSG, as Georgia State is a team to keep an eye on this season in the Sun Belt. RJ Hunter averaged 17.5 points as a freshman, and in addition to returning their two other double-figure scorers, the Panthers will also add Ryan Harrow to their mix. He’s eligible immediately.
Rutgers wasn’t given any favors by the NCAA in their bracket. The Scarlet Knights are going to have a tough season in their first year post-Mike Rice, and they get a good Canisius team, a talented Drexel team and Elon, who should contend for the SoCon title.
Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for final day of the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 7 Nevada (-2.5), CBS (143.5)
- 9:37 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5), CBS (138.5)
- 7:37 p.m.: No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Michigan (-3), TBS (134)
- 10:07 p.m.: No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 4 Gonzaga (-5.5), TBS (154.5)
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 1 Kansas (-4), CBS (143)
- 9:37: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Duke (-11.5), CBS (133.5)
- 7:27 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Villanova, TBS
- 9:57 p.m.: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Purdue (-1.5), TBS (137.5)
The wild opening weekend of the 2018 NCAA tournament is finally in the books.
The bracket officially turns its attention to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight this week as teams are trying to punch tickets to San Antonio during an especially wide-open year.
Major upsets, double-digit seeds advancing into the Sweet 16 and the loss of all four top seeds in the South Regional means there’s still plenty of action to watch over the next several weeks.
Here’s how the updated bracket looks after the first weekend of March Madness.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Caleb Martin was, once again, a monster for Nevada on Sunday.
He finished with 25 points. He handed out seven assists. He put the No. 7-seed Wolf Pack on his back and carried them back from a 22-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of a game that looked like it was lost.
It was impressive.
But he’s not our player of the day. His teammate Josh Hall is. Because he’s the one that grabbed this offensive rebound and scored this put back and sent Nevada into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
That lead was Nevada’s first lead of the game.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: 28 points. Five steals. Five assists. Four boards. Eight turnovers for Marshall’s Jon Elmore. Jevon Carter was terrific this weekend.
- T.J. STARKS, Texas A&M: While Tyler Davis and Big Bob Williams combined for 26 points and 22 boards, it was Starks that was the star for the Aggies on Sunday, finishing with 21 points and five assists in a blowout win over UNC.
No. 9-seed Florida State erased a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to send No. 1-seed Xavier back to the Queen City. Both Xavier and Cincinnati blew late leads on Sunday.
It was not a pretty game, but No. 11-seed Syracuse knocked off No. 3-seed Michigan State in a game where the Spartans completely forgot how to make a jump shot.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Playing without their starting center, who is recovering from a broken elbow, Purdue’s Dakota Mathias buried this shot to send in-state rival Butler home:
WTF??? OF THE DAY
Michigan State shot 8-for-38 from three on Sunday afternoon, which was the major reason that the Spartans found a way to lose to Syracuse in the second round.
But one of the eight threes that they did hit was this one:
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Auburn never stood a chance. No. 5-seed Clemson led by 41 points at one points as they sent Bruce Pearl’s boys packing.
The dream died. No. 16 UMBC lost to No. 9 Kansas State, ending their “run” in the NCAA tournament at two games.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams took a moment to reflect on a special three-year run after the Tar Heels were eliminated from the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a blowout loss to No. 7 seed Texas A&M on Sunday.
After back-to-back national title game appearances and a championship win last season, Williams grew quite fond of seniors like Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. Williams also mentioned some of the tumultuous circumstances surrounding the program from the past few years as he maintained that his players helped him through a difficult stretch in his life.
Speaking to reporters at the postgame press conference, Williams tried to subdue the emotion in his voice as he talked about this Tar Heels team.
With four more top threes falling out of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, here are the updated national title futures and betting odds in the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
West Virginia: 22/1
Texas Tech: 25/1
Texas A&M: 100/1
Loyola Chicago: 100/1
Kansas State: 125/1
Florida State: 150/1