Now, I don’t like calling anything about the NCAA Tournament “bad”.
Because there isn’t anything “bad” about it. There are things that are less good than they could be, sure. But bad is a far cry from less than ideal.
That’s why I refuse to call this list the five worst games of the first round. Instead, we will call this list the five games that you don’t need to worry about setting the DVR for:
(Note: We aren’t including games like the 1-16 or 2-15 matchups in this list. Everyone knows those generally end up as routs.)
3/18 – 4:40 pm: No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Florida State: Florida State is a gritty, gutty, and physical defensive team. They put pressure on ball-handlers, they force tough shots, and they have shotblockers around the rim if you happen to beat your man on the perimeter. The Seminoles get that much better defensively with Chris Singleton returning from injury. Texas A&M is similar. They are a staunch defensive team that excels on the glass. Neither team is great offensively. Neither team plays with much pace. What does all that add up to? A game that may not see the scoring break the 60’s or the FG shooting break 30%.
3/17 – 2:10 pm: No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Penn State: Last week in the Big Ten tournament, Penn State played what I like to call an eye-bleeder, a game so ugly it makes your eyes bleed, against Wisconsin. It ended with the score 36-33. Granted, that was the result of two of the five slowest teams in the country squaring off. But the Nittany Lions then beat Michigan State 61-48 the next day. The Spartans have a very similar tempo-free profile to Temple, and Penn State only reached 61 points because Talor Battle caught fire in the second half.
3/18 – 7:20 pm: No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 St. Peter’s: The Peacocks are one of the best defensive teams in the country. So are the Boilermakers. The difference? Purdue has guys like JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore. St. Peter’s doesn’t. This could turn into one of those 65-40 blowouts. No one wants to watch that.
3/18 – 12:40 pm: No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Tennessee: Michigan is only a decent basketball team, despite their terrific run down the stretch of the season. Tennessee is talented, but they are a basketball chameleon. They blend in with their opponent, playing well against good teams and struggling against bad ones. Throw in the fact that I am not expecting the Vols to be able to figure out John Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone, and this could end up being an ugly, slow-paced, low-scoring game.
3/17 – 12:15 pm: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson: The Mountaineers play a slow brand of basketball. They thrive on their ability to get to the offensive back boards, which works well because they don’t shoot the ball all that well. Clemson doesn’t have the greatest defensive numbers this season, but they have been playing much better of late on that end of the floor. Boston College scored 47 points. UNC was down by as many as 12 points to them. UAB scored 52 points despite hitting 12 threes. Not exactly the recipe for a barn burner.