Most intriguing matchup
3:10 pm ET, TruTV, No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont, Columbus: The Hoyas have been one of the popular upset picks heading into the NCAA tournament. Belmont’s good. Kenpom ranks them high. We know this.
But I’m still not buying the upset.
The reasons why Georgetown has been a popular upset pick is what makes this matchup so intriguing, however. The Hoyas have not exactly been a powerhouse in the NCAA tournament over their last three trips to the dance. In the last four years, they are 1-3 in the tourney, with the “1” coming against a No. 15 seed and each of the “3’s” coming to mid-major programs. And Belmont is good. They are balanced, they make a lot of 3-pointers and they have size inside. Belmont is capable of winning.
I just don’t see it happening.
Upsets on the horizon?
12:40 pm ET, TruTV, No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 NC State, Columbus: The Wolfpack are another trendy upset pick. SDSU is the Mountain West co-champ, but their talent is on the perimeter, not in the paint. NC State has a couple of quality big men that are playing some good basketball right now, headlined by the talented CJ Leslie. The winner will be the team that takes advantage of the mismatch. Can Tim Shelton cover Leslie? Will Garrett Green be able to slow down Richard Howell?
2:45 pm ET, CBS, No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure, Nashville: St. Bonaventure was one of the few bid thieves from Championship Week this year, running through the Atlantic 10 tournament to take home the league’s automatic bid. The star of the show was center Andrew Nicholson, who will have his work cut out for him going up against Bernard James and Jon Kreft. The Seminoles have been a bit inconsistent this season. Their four wins over Duke and North Carolina don’t look as pretty when you consider the losses to Clemson, Boston College and Princeton. Are they primed for another off night?
Story lines to keep an eye on
12:15 pm ET, CBS, No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 11 Texas, Nashville: We all know the story about the brawl by now, but the resurgence of the Bearcats this season is one of the least-discussed great stories of the season. Cincy made the finals of the Big East tournament after finishing fourth in the regular season, which is a far cry from where anyone expected them to be after they lost to Presbyterian. Can they add a win in the NCAA Tournament to that resume?
1:40 pm ET, TBS, No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama, Greensboro: Creighton has a high-powered offense highlighted by their ability to shoot the three, but struggles mightily on the defensive end of the floor. Alabama has a stalwart defense, but is inept on the offensive end and struggles to shoot. What wins out?
2:10 pm ET, TNT, No. 7 Florida vs. No. 10 Virginia, Omaha: Virginia employs what is known as the Pack-Line defense, which is a system that crowds all five defenders in the paint and dares the other team to beat them via the three point shot. It just so happens that Florida’s offense is centered around the three-point shot.
Oh, and they play too
4:10 pm ET, TBS, No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Vermont, Greensboro: How healthy is John Henson’s wrist? Will he play on Friday?
4:40 pm ET, TNT, No. 2 Missouri vs. No. 15 Norfolk State, Omaha: Norfolk State might have the best big man on the floor in Kyle O’Quinn. Missouri will have the five best guards on the floor.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.