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2019 NCAA Tournament: Must-see opening round matchups

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The 2019 NCAA tournament features a lot of enticing first-round matchups filled with upset potential. But only a handful of the 32 first round games should be appointment television. Some games have incredible star power, others have soap-opera-level storylines and a few more are just intriguing games that should be close.

Here’s a look at seven must-see opening-round matchups as you’ll want to make these games the center of your attention when they come on.

1. No. 5 seed Marquette vs. No. 12 seed Murray State, Thursday, 4:30 p.m., Hartford

Markus Howard vs. Ja Morant in the first round is a major gift from the NCAA tournament Gods.

Both All-American point guards are electric to watch. You could even argue that besides for Zion Williamson, that they are the two most fun-to-watch players in all of college basketball. Marquette’s Howard is a noted perimeter shooter who can heat up quickly enough to drop 50 in a game or 40 in a half. Murray State’s Morant is more of a downhill driver and athlete who throws down vicious dunks with insane athleticism. Morant has elevated into a potential top-three NBA draft pick, as this will be a major national showcase for his draft stock as well.

The entertainment value of that lead-guard matchup alone is worth the price of admission. But this overall game should also be a really fun No. 5/No. 12 matchup. Marquette has struggled down the stretch as they’ve lost five out of six games. Murray State has won 11 straight games as they enter this field as one of the hotter teams.

2. No. 7 seed Louisville vs. No. 10 seed Minnesota, Thursday, 12:15 p.m., Des Moines

Are there any direct flights from Greece to Des Moines? That’s probably doubtful. But let’s face it, Louisville vs. a Pitino is an amazing first-round subplot.

It’s hard to say if Rick is going to try to attend this game while he’s busy coaching pro ball in Greece, but he’ll certainly be supporting his son Richard go against his former employer. Louisville and new head coach Chris Mack could not have been pleased when they saw this draw.

Rick Pitino is not only suing Louisville for wrongful termination, but he recruited and coached most of the current players on the Cardinals roster. Minnesota is going to get as many helpful tips from Rick can give to his son as that subplot alone makes this game a must-watch.

3. No. 5 seed Wisconsin vs. No. 12 seed Oregon, Friday, 4:30 p.m., San Jose

Matchups between No. 5 and No. 12 seeds are already fun to watch but this one is particularly intriguing because of the Big Ten/Pac-12 dynamic.

Wisconsin has been one of the Big Ten’s better teams this season in an insanely deep league. Oregon emerged late to win the Pac-12 conference tournament to sneak into the field with the autobid. The Ducks have been underwhelming this season — particularly after the loss of freshman star big man Bol Bol. It’s also important to remember that Oregon has the talent to compete with Wisconsin as freshman Louis King has grown more comfortable since joining the lineup.

The coaching matchup between Wisconsin’s Greg Gard and Oregon’s Dana Altman will also be a fun chess match for basketball junkies as they are two of the most highly-regarded coaches in the entire field.

4. No. 6 seed Buffalo vs. No. 11 seed Arizona State or St. John’s, Friday, 4:00 p.m., Tulsa

This game has the potential to be the Bobby Hurley Bowl as the Arizona State head coach left Buffalo to join the Sun Devils three years ago. Even if Arizona State falls to St. John’s in Wednesday’s First Four game in Dayton, this game should be wildly entertaining.

All three of these programs aren’t afraid to push the tempo as this should be some of the more aesthetically-pleasing basketball for casual fans during the first round. There’s also the strange role reversal of mid-major Buffalo being the favored No. 6 seed while the No. 11 seeds will be underdogs hailing from power conferences.

And the Bulls are legitimately really good. They already knocked off No. 4 seed Arizona last season, so they’ll be experienced and hungry enough to make a potential run this season. Arizona State has an athletic and explosive freshman in guard Luguentz Dort while St. John’s junior guard Shamorie Ponds is one of the more potent scorers in the country.

5. No. 7 seed Wofford vs. No. 10 seed Seton Hall, Thursday, 9:50 p.m., Columbia

Yet another mid-major team in a higher seed than a power conference team. Wofford is a ton of fun to watch thanks to senior guard Fletcher Magee and his potent three-point shooting. The Terriers will let it fly in this one as they were the second-best three-point shooting team in the country this season. Wofford has also won 20 consecutive games as they’re arguably the hottest team entering the NCAA tournament.

Seton Hall has figured things out just in time for the Big Dance as guard Myles Powell is one of the hotter individual players in the country. The Pirates have won four of their last five games entering the tournament with the only loss coming to Villanova during a controversial Big East title game. With strong guard play and both teams trending in positive directions, this has the makings of a memorable battle.

6. No. 8 seed Utah State vs. No. 9 seed Washington, Friday, 6:50 p.m., Columbus

This is one of those dream matchups we probably wouldn’t see in the regular season. A top Pac-12 program facing a very credible Mountain West team usually doesn’t happen because it’s generally a no-win situation for the Pac-12 school.

But we get to see it here in the first round as perhaps the best No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup. Utah State probably would have made the Field of 68 as an at-large but they took the safer route of just winning the Mountain West autobid instead. Junior guard Sam Merrill is also one of the field’s most underrated individual scorers as he’s putting up 21.2 points per game.

Washington gets a chance to show the Pac-12 was entirely pathetic this season by advancing to the Round of 32. The Huskies struggled late in the season in two losses against Oregon, so it’ll be interesting to see how Washington fares against another NCAA tournament-caliber team. A win here would be huge for the Mountain West when it comes to bragging rights.

7. No. 7 seed Cincinnati vs. No. 10 seed Iowa, Friday, 12:15 p.m., Columbus

This game should already be unique because it’s a clash of styles between the traditionally slow and rugged Bearcats against the more offensive-minded Hawkeyes. It should also be relatively close game compared to many first-round matchups.

But the antics on the sidelines between Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin and Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery will be worth watching — particularly since this is the first game on the schedule on Friday. The last time McCaffery was in Columbus, he cursed out Big Ten officials during an ugly Iowa loss at Ohio State that led to a two-game suspension.

Cincinnati was gifted an in-state game in this matchup and it could make for some explosive McCaffery quotes in the postgame presser if things don’t go his way.

College Basketball’s 2019 Coaching Carousel

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College basketball’s coaching carousel has started for the 2019 offseason as we’ll see numerous changes in the coaching ranks over the next several months.

To help keep track of all of the movement, CBT has created this page to monitor all of the movement.

As the offseason continues, and new hires are made, we’ll update this list every time a coaching change is made.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account @CBTonNBC for the latest college basketball news and notes.

HIGH MAJOR OPENINGS

TEMPLE

OUT: Fran Dunphy, a stalwart in Philadelphia hoops, is in the final stages of his coaching career, as he will step down at Temple after the season.

IN: This was decided before the season started, but he will be replaced by Aaron McKie, a Philly native and Temple alum that has spent five years as a member of Temple’s staff.

TEXAS A&M

OUT: The Aggies are reportedly moving on from head coach Billy Kennedy following the conclusion of the SEC tournament. CBT has a breakdown on Kennedy’s departure here — including two intriguing potential candidates sources have told to NBCSports.com.

UCLA

OUT: The first coaching carousel move of this offseason happened way back in December when Steve Alford was fired. Interim coach Murry Bartow hasn’t guided UCLA back on track as the Bruins have struggled to stay above .500 during a disastrous season in the Pac-12. Although UCLA isn’t the job it used to be, it remains one of the best and most storied programs in the country. It also might be the most fascinating coaching search in the nation since the Bruins have a two-month head start on the rest of the country.

UNLV

OUT: Marvin Menzies three-year tenure as the head coach at UNLV is over, and it will be fascinating to see who that administration tabs to be the guy to try and take that program back to the heights of the 1990s. There have been some fascinating names that have popped up, from Thad Matta and Rick Pitino to Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd.

WASHINGTON STATE

OUT: One day after its season ended with a loss to Oregon in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, Washington State has parted ways with head coach Ernie Kent. Kent spent five seasons in Pullman, posting an overall record of 58 wins and 98 losses. Against Pac-12 competition the Cougars were just 22-68 during Kent’s tenure, with the program’s best conference mark being a 7-11 record during the 2014-15 season (Kent’s first at the school). Washington State is considered by many on the west coast to be one of, if not the worst job in the high-major ranks.

THE REST

APPALACHIAN STATE

OUT: Jim Fox’s tenure at Appalachian State came to an end this year. He was never able to get things going in the right direction, finishing below .500 every season and mustering just one finish in the top five of the Sun Belt. That came in 2017-18, when the Mountaineers finished 9-9 and tied for 5th in the league.

CAL POLY

OUT: After 10 years at the helm, Cal Poly is moving on from head coach Joe Callero, according to a report by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Peaking in years three-through-five with two 18-win seasons and an appearance in the 2014 NCAA tournament, Callero never got the program back on track during his final five seasons. Finishing with a 6-21 record and 2-12 mark in the Big West this season, the Mustangs will be looking for only their fourth different head coach since the program transitioned into Division I in 1994. While Cal Poly hasn’t been particularly successful, they have allowed coaches plenty of time to build things their own way.

ELON

OUT: Matt Matheny was at Elon for 10 years, seeing them make the move from the SoCon to the CAA, but he was never able to get it going at the school. The Phoenix had just one second above .500 since the move in 2014 and in 10 years, he made it to just one postseason — a 2013 trip to the CIT.

FAIRFIELD

OUT: Moving on from head coach Sydney Johnson after eight seasons, Fairfield will try to make a move up the MAAC with its new hire. Finishing 116-147 during his tenure at Fairfield, Johnson led the Stags to three CIT appearances — most recently in 2016-17. Johnson had some early momentum with a 22-win season and third-place finish in the MAAC in year one, but Fairfield never achieved those heights again. The Stags finished 9-22 and 6-12 in conference play in 2018-19.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

OUT: After three seasons as the head coach of the Colonials, the school announced on Friday that Maurice Joseph will not be returning to the program next season. MoJo was put in a difficult spot, taking over the program on an interim basis in September of 2016 after head coach Mike Lonergan was fired. He earned a contract with the success they had that season, but he was unable to build on it. This will be a sought-after opening, with names like former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, Miami assistant Chris Caputo, Siena’s Jamion Christian and Yale’s James Jones being mentioned.

KENNESAW STATE

OUT: Veteran head coach Al Skinner announced his decision to step down after the 2018-19 season on Feb. 21 in an official announcement from the school. Skinner spent four seasons with the Owls, never finishing above fourth place in the Atlantic Sun. Kennesaw State bottomed out with a 6-26 mark this season as Skinner was 41-84 in four seasons at the school. Formerly head coach at Boston College and Rhode Island, Skinner once made seven NCAA tournament appearances in nine years with the Eagles, but he hasn’t coached a tournament team since 2009.

MERCER

OUT: Bob Hoffman is out as Mercer’s head coach after 11 years at the helm, according to a release from the school. Most famous for guiding the Bears to the Round of 32, and upset win over Duke, in 2013-14, Hoffman never figured things out once Mercer transitioned from the Atlantic Sun into the SoCon the following season. Mercer is taking a risk with this decision as Hoffman led the program to six postseason appearances in seven seasons before a bad 2018-19 campaign ended in an 11-19 record. Hoffman achieved a 209-164 overall record during his tenure with the program.

MONTANA STATE

OUT: Fish was at Montana State for five years but never finished better than sixth in the Big Sky despite the fact that he has had Tyler Hall on the roster for the last three years. That’s not good. The timing for this was awful, however — Fish lost his daughter last month.

NIAGARA

OUT: The Purple Eagles announced their decision to move on from head coach Chris Casey in an official release. In six seasons at Niagara, Casey was only above .500 one time, finishing with a solid 19-14 record and CIT appearance in 2017-18. But the Purple Eagles reverted back to a 13-19 record this season as Casey finishes his tenure with a 64-129 record.

OHIO

OUT: Saul Phillips is out at Ohio after five seasons in the MAC. Coming to the Bobcats after taking North Dakota State into the Round of 32, Phillips never found similar success with Ohio. The Bobcats had back-to-back 20-win seasons in Phillips’ second and third season, reaching the CBI in 2016, but Ohio has improved in years after back-to-back 14-17 seasons. With Ohio sending recent head coaches onto the high-major ranks in John Groce (Illinois) and Jim Christian (Boston College), Phillips turned out to be a disappointing hire. Phillips finishes 81-77 at Ohio with an underwhelming 40-50 mark in MAC play.

IN: The Bobcats officially announced on Selection Sunday that they have hired Jeff Boals away from Stony Brook. Boals is a former team caption for Ohio, leading them to the 1994 NCAA tournament. He spent years as an assistant in the area, including an eight-year stretch at Ohio State, before taking over Stony Brook. This past season he led the Sea Wolves to a 24-8 record.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

OUT: Following a quarterfinal exit from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, head coach Barry Hinson announced in his postgame press conference that he was leaving his post at Southern Illinois. It hasn’t been made clear if Hinson is resigning, or being fired, as he said, “It is time for me to step away,” during an emotional press conference. In seven seasons at Southern Illinois, Hinson went 116-111 — twice winning 20 or more games in a season. But the Salukis never made the postseason as the once-proud Valley program has struggled to find its footing since six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances earlier this century. Hinson has also spent time at Oral Roberts and Missouri State as he’s fifth all-time in Missouri Valley Conference wins.

SIU-EDWARDSVILLE

OUT: The Cougars decided not to renew the contract of previous head coach Jon Harris, as they’ve officially named assistant coach Brian Barone as interim head coach. Harris was an underwhelming 31-88 in his four seasons at the helm. Barone has been an assistant with the program for two seasons as his interim tag is based on pending approval from the school’s Board of Trustees. Since transitioning into Division I in 2008-09, SIU-Edwardsville has never won more than 12 games in a season.

IN: Brian Barone, who has spent the last two years as an assistant with SIUE, was named the interim coach last week after Harris was fired.

STETSON

OUT: The Hatters opted to move on from head coach Corey Williams, as first reported by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Spending six years at Stetson, Williams never found his footing with the Atlantic Sun program, as the Hatters never finished above seventh in the league. Williams, a former standout at Oklahoma State, was previously an assistant at Florida State under head coach Leonard Hamilton as he finished with a 58-133 mark during his Stetson tenure.

STONY BROOK

OUT: Jeff Boals has left Stony Brook to take over Ohio, where he is an alum and a former team captain. The Sea Wolves are coming off of a 24-8 season, after Steve Pikiell helped build that program into one of the better programs in the America East. The name that will be linked to this opening is Jay Young, a longtime Stony Brook assistant, but a source told NBC Sports that the decision will not be as easy as some have made it out to be.

TENNESSEE TECH

OUT: After 17 years with the program, head coach Steve Payne is stepping down. Spending eight years as the head coach, Payne guided the Golden Eagles to two postseason appearances (CIT and Vegas 16) during his tenure while achieving four winning seasons. Consistency eluded Payne, however, as Tennessee Tech never had back-to-back winning campaigns. Finishing 8-23 overall and 12th place in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, Payne leaves with a 118-134 career mark. Before becoming head coach, Payne also spent nine seasons with Tennessee Tech as an assistant coach.

TROY

OUT: After six seasons, Troy has decided in a change-of-direction by letting go Phil Cunningham. The Trojans made one NCAA tournament appearance with Cunningham in charge during the 2016-17 season as they had a 22-win season and a surprising run in the Sun Belt conference tournament. But Cunningham never made a postseason appearance outside of that as he was 80-111 during his time in charge.

TULANE

OUT: The Mike Dunleavy experiment died on Saturday afternoon, as the former NBA head coach saw his tenure in New Orleans come to an end after a 4-27 season. The Green Wave did lose three starters to injury and saw two players leave the program last season and wind up in the NBA, but 4-27 is 4-27. This will be an interesting spot, as a couple of notable names — Andy Kennedy, for one — have been linked to the opening, but it’s not a great job in a league where it will be hard for them to get into the top half of the conference.

UMKC

OUT: Kareem Richardson’s tenure with te Kangaroos has come to a close. He spent six seasons at the school, but after an 11-21 season came to an end in the WAC quarterfinals, the program opted to make a change. He is the only coach that has taken UMKC to the postseason.

WILLIAM & MARY

OUT: The Tribe announced a move to replace 16-year head coach Tony Shaver. Compiling a 226-268 record during his tenure, Shaver made two trips to the NIT with William & Mary while also advancing to the CAA Tournament finals four times. Finishing 14-17 this past season, William & Mary made that last NIT appearance in 2015.

Official 2019 NCAA tournament seed list released

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The official 2019 NCAA tournament seed list was released shortly after the bracket was unveiled on Sunday night.

The most notable development is three ACC teams finishing as the top three overall teams on this list — showing just how top-heavy the league was this season. With a healthy Zion Williamson, the Blue Devils are the No. 1 overall seed while the No. 68 seed belongs to North Carolina Central.

Here’s the official seed list and how the committee ranked each team in the field from top to bottom.

1. Duke (29-5)
2. Virginia (29-3)
3. North Carolina (27-6)
4. Gonzaga (30-3)
5. Tennessee (29-4)
6. Michigan State (28-6)
7. Kentucky (27-6)
8. Michigan (28-6)
9. Houston (31-3)
10. Texas Tech (26-6)
11. LSU (26-6)
12. Purdue (23-9)
13. Kansas (25-9)
14. Florida State (27-7)
15. Kansas State (25-8)
16. Virginia Tech (24-8)
17. Marquette (24-9)
18. Auburn (25-9)
19. Wisconsin (23-10)
20. Mississippi State (23-10)
21. Villanova (25-9)
22. Maryland (22-10)
23. Buffalo (31-3)
24. Iowa State (23-11)
25. Louisville (20-13)
26. Nevada (29-4)
27. Cincinnati (28-6)
28. Wofford (29-4)
29. VCU (25-7)
30. Syracuse (20-13)
31. Ole Miss (20-12)
32. Utah State (28-6)
33. Washington (26-8)
34. UCF (23-8)
35. Baylor (19-13)
36. Oklahoma (19-13)
37. Iowa (22-11)
38. Seton Hall (20-13)
39. Minnesota (21-13)
40. Florida (19-15)
41. Ohio State (19-14)
42. Belmont (26-5)
43. Temple (23-9)
44. Saint Mary’s (22-11)
45. Arizona State (22-10)
46. Murray State (27-4)
47. St. John’s (21-12)
48. Oregon (23-12)
49. New Mexico State (30-4)
50. Liberty (28-6)
51. UC Irvine (30-5)
52. Vermont (27-6)
53. Saint Louis (22-12)
54. Northeastern (23-10)
55. Yale (21-7)
56. Old Dominion (26-8)
57. Georgia State (23-9)
58. Northern Kentucky (26-8)
59. Montana (26-8)
60. Colgate (24-10)
61. Bradley (20-14)
62. Abilene Christian (27-6)
63. Gardner-Webb (23-11)
64. Iona (17-15)
65. Prairie View A&M (22-12)
66. Fairleigh Dickinson (20-13)
67. North Dakota State (18-15)
68. North Carolina Central (18-15)

Tip times, channels and broadcast crews announced for 2019 NCAA tournament

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Here is the full TV schedule, with announcer pairings, tip-times and channels, for every game for the first four days of the NCAA tournament.

FIRST FOUR

TUESDAY, March 19: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 6:40 p.m.: 16. Prairie View A&M vs. 16. Fairleigh Dickinson, truTV
  • After conc. 1.: 11. Temple vs. 11. Belmont, truTV

WEDNESDAY, March 20: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Jim Jackson and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 6:40 p.m.: 16. NC Central vs. 16. North Dakota State, truTV
  • After conc. 1: 11. St. John’s vs. 11. Arizona State, truTV

FIRST ROUND

THURSDAY, March 21

Des Moines: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 12:15 p.m.: 7. Louisville vs. 10. Minnesota, CBS
  • Approx 2:45 p.m.: 2. Michigan State vs. 15. Bradley, CBS
  • 6:50 p.m.: 7. Nevada vs. 10. Florida, TNT
  • Approx 9:20 p.m.: 2. Michigan vs. 15. Montana, TNT

Jacksonville: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Jamie Erdahl

  • 12:40 p.m.: 3. LSU vs. 14. Yale , truTV
  • Approx 3:10 p.m.: 6. Maryland vs. 11. Temple/Belmont, truTV
  • 7:10 p.m.: 2. Kentucky vs. 15. Abilene Christian, CBS
  • Approx 9:57 p.m.: 7. Wofford vs. 10. Seton Hall, CBS

Salt Lake City: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Lisa Byington

  • 1:30 p.m.: 5. Auburn vs. 12. New Mexico State, TNT
  • Approx 4 p.m.: 4. Kansas vs. 13 Northeastern, TNT
  • 7:27 p.m.: 1. Gonzaga vs. 16. Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M, truTV
  • Approx 9:57 p.m.: 8. Syracuse vs. 9. Baylor, truTV

Hartford: Carter Blackburn, Debbie Antonelli and John Schriffen

  • 2 p.m.: 4. Florida vs. 13. Vermont, TBS
  • Approx 4:30 p.m.: 5. Marquette vs. 12. Murray State, TBS
  • 7:20 p.m.: 6. Villanova vs. 11. Saint Mary’s, TBS
  • 9:50 p.m.: 3. Purdue vs. 14. Old Dominion, TBS

FRIDAY, March 22

Columbus: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Allie LaForce

  • 12:15 p.m.: 7. Cincinnati vs. 10 Iowa, CBS
  • Approx 2:45 p.m.: 2. Tennessee vs. 15. Colgate, CBS
  • 6:50 p.m.: 8. Utah State vs. 9. Washington, TNT
  • Approx 9:20 p.m.: 1. North Carolina vs. 16. Iona, TNT

Columbia: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson

  • 12:40 p.m.: 8. Ole Miss vs. 9. Oklahoma, truTV
  • Approx 3 p.m.: 1. Virginia vs. 16. Gardner-Webb, truTV
  • 7:10 p.m.: 1. Duke vs. 16. NC Central/North Dakota State, CBS
  • Approx 9:40 p.m.: 8. VCU vs. 9. UCF, CBS

Tulsa: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin, Jim Jackson and Evan Washburn

  • 1:30 p.m.: 3. Texas Tech vs. 14. Northern Kentucky, TNT
  • Approx 4 p.m.: 6. Buffalo vs. 11. Arizona State/St. John’s, TNT
  • 7:20 p.m.: 3. Houston vs. 14. Georgia State, TBS
  • Approx 9:50 p.m.: 6. Iowa State vs. 11. Ohio State, TBS

San Jose: Spero Dedes, Len Elmore, Steve Smith and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 2 p.m.: 4. Kansas vs. 13. UC Irvine, TBS
  • Approx 4:30 p.m.: 5. Wisconsin vs. 12. Oregon, TBS
  • 7:27 p.m.: 5. Mississippi State vs. 12. Liberty, truTV
  • Approx 9:57 p.m.: 4. Saint Louis vs. 13. Saint Louis, truTV

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis West Region

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The West Region has an intriguing draw with Gonzaga gaining the top seed and Michigan, a Final Four team from last season, getting the No. 2 seed. This region has some potential darkhorse Final Four team and some trendy potential upsets to keep an eye on during the first weekend.

The No. 1 seed is Gonzaga. Despite a loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game, the Bulldogs still earned a No. 1 seed out west as they face the play-in winner between No. 16 seeds Fairleigh Dickinson and Prairie View A&M.

It should be a matchup of a lot of length and athleticism when No. 8 seed Syracuse and No. 9 seed Baylor collide. The health of Orange star guard Tyus Battle (hip) and Bears senior guard Makai Mason (toe) could very well decide who advances in that one.

The best lead-guard matchup of the first round goes down in Hartford with No. 5 seed Marquette and All-American Markus Howard battling OVC champion and No. 12 seed Murray State and Ja Morant. The Golden Eagles struggled down the stretch in Big East play as they went from Final Four darkhorse into a potentially-popular first-round matchup.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

A dangerous No. 4 seed could be Florida State as the Seminoles just knocked off Virginia in the ACC tournament over the weekend. Coming off of an Elite Eight appearance last season, the Seminoles could be a sleeper Final Four team out of this region. The Seminoles collide with No. 13 seed Vermont, a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The America East champions had a beatdown of UMBC in the conference tournament title game.

After an impressive season in the MAC in which they became a consistent top-25 team, Buffalo gets a No. 6 seed. The Bulls could get a fascinating first-round matchup as they await the winner of the play-in game between No. 11 seeds Arizona State and St. John’s. If the Sun Devils advance past Dayton, it’ll be a matchup of Bobby Hurley-coached programs as he left Buffalo for Arizona State a few years ago.

Texas Tech earned the No. 3 seed out of the Big 12 following an impressive regular-season title. Although the Red Raiders made the Elite Eight last season, the roster is almost entirely different from last season. But the Red Raiders have a star in Jarrett Culver and the nation’s best defense. Northern Kentucky, the No. 14 seed, draws Texas Tech after winning the Horizon League title.

Following a disappointing regular season, Nevada is a No. 7 seed facing No. 10 seed Florida. The Wolf Pack had preseason top-10 hype but failed to deliver results in the regular season behind a loaded roster that is mostly in-tact from last season’s Sweet 16 team. The Gators needed some late wins this season to get in — most notably over LSU in the SEC tournament. Florida is dangerous but extremely inconsistent.

Rounding out the West is No. 2 seed Michigan as the Wolverines attempt to return to the Final Four. Guard Charles Matthews recently returned from injury as Michigan appears to be near full-strength heading into the Big Dance. The Wolverines face No. 15 seed Montana to open things up as the Grizzlies represent the Big Sky.

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis South Region

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The South Region is led by some top seeds who were bounced early in the NCAA tournament last season as Virginia and Tennessee look to redeem themselves after strong seasons.

The South Region is led by No. 1 seed Virginia. Following last season’s stunning loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round, the Cavaliers will get a chance to redeem themselves against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb, the champions of the Big South.

The No. 8/9 matchup is a matchup between SEC and Big 12 as Ole Miss and Oklahoma battle. The Rebels were one of the most pleasant surprises of any team in the field this season while Oklahoma has won some games down the stretch to earn another bid.

Wisconsin draws the No. 5 seed as the Ethan Happ-led Badgers get a major test in No. 12 seed and Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon. Although the Ducks struggled during the regular season — particularly after the loss of star freshman Bol Bol — they’re a dangerous team with two recent wins over Washington.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

The No. 4 seed is Kansas State as they are still hoping to get senior forward Dean Wade (foot) healthy enough to play in the NCAA tournament after he missed all of last season’s Elite Eight run for the Wildcats. They’ll face No. 13 seed UC Irvine, the champions of the Big West.

Defending champion Villanova drew no favors from the committee with the No. 6 seed. There hasn’t been a No. 6 seed in the Final Four since 1992 as the Wildcats will have an uphill battle to make the Final Four for the third time in four years. They draw No. 11 seed Saint Mary’s as the Gaels gained a lot of momentum in winning the WCC title over No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Earning a surprising share of the Big Ten regular-season title this season, Purdue draws the No. 3 seed as they get a tough first-round opponent in No. 14 seed Old Dominion.

The committee also didn’t help No. 7 seed Cincinnati as the Bearcats had an impressive showing in an AAC title-game win over Houston on Sunday. The Bearcats will face No. 10 seed Iowa in a clash of styles and tempo.

After falling short in the SEC tournament title game, No. 2 seed Tennessee gets a matchup with No. 15 seed Colgate — a program making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years. Although the Raiders feature the Patriot League Player of the Year in forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, they’ll face one of the best frontcourts in the tournament with the Vols’ veteran combo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.