After maybe the GOAT NCAA Final game ever... March Madness is BACK for another wild ride. How can anybody top Kris Jenkins's Buzzer Beater to win the title?
By having another opportunity for a cornucopia of gambling of course!
16 games over 13 hours. Buzzer Beaters... Upsets... VERNE... GOAT COAST... What could be better?
On to the games.
12:15 Eastern - CBS - 5. Notre Dame vs. 12. Princeton
Line: ND -6.5
Preview: Game between two very similar teams. Both teams are slow-paced, take very good care of the ball, and do their best to not give away free possessions. Notre Dame's vulnerability is their poor rebounding due to their lack of size, but that isn't exactly something Princeton can take advantage of as they are #318 in OReb% nationally.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: Offensive Turnover Rate: Princeton #11, Notre Dame #1. As I've said, this will be a half court game with very few free points for either team.
Zimmer's Pick: Notre Dame and the points. It might be a slow game to start, but Notre Dame is really good offensively and will grind out a comfortable win.
12:40 Eastern - 5. Virginia vs. 12. UNC Wilmington
Line: Virginia -8.5
Preview: A battle of contrasting styles here. Virginia plays the absolute slowest tempo in college basketball. They play Tony Bennett's famous Pack Line defense, aggressively defending the paint. UNC-W likes to run a bit more. They struggle with interior defense but try to take advantage of transition opportunities to score easy buckets.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: UNC-W 2P% Defense vs. UVA 2P% Offense. UNC-W Defense: #328, UVA Offense #142. If UNC-W has a problem it is that they struggle to defend the interior. Unfortunately I'm not sure Virginia is equipped to take advantage of this. Their bigs are very limited offensively and Perrantes is really the only player for UVA capable of getting to the hole with ease.
Zimmer's Pick: UNC-Wilmington wins outright. Virginia's offensive limitations are once again their achilles heel and we see our first upset of the tournament in the 2nd game.
1:30 Eastern - TNT 4. Butler vs. 13. Winthrop
Line: Butler -11
Preview: Butler is similar to the last two high seeds we've previewed. A good team from a power conference that slows the pace down, plays efficient offense and solid defense. Winthrop is largely untested, with only one P-5 win over Illinois from November.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: AdjO - Butler #17, Winthrop #137.
Zimmer's Pick: Butler has too many ways to score against an average defense in Winthrop. Don't really see anything that Winthrop does that will cause Butler problems. Easy win for Butler.
2:00 - TBS 1. Gonzaga vs. 16. South Dakota State
Line: Gonzaga -22
Preview: Sadly for SDSU they are running into an absolute buzzsaw of efficiency. If they had Nate Wolters back they might have a shot, but I don't see much of it here.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: Gonzaga eFG% Offense and Defense. Offense #2, Defense #1. Despite an easier schedule than the other 1 seeds, Gonzaga has put up an impressive resume this season.
Zimmer's Pick: Game won't be close. Not sure that Gonzaga will cover the 22, but they won't be the first 1 seed to drop a game to a 16.
2:45 Eastern - CBS 4. West Virginia vs. 13. Bucknell
Line: West Virginia -13.5
Preview: West Virginia's full court press is back in action for another year, set to terrorize opponents' point guards, and they may have found easy prey in Bucknell.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: Turnover% Bucknell Offense vs. WVU Defense. Bucknell Offense #200, WVU Defense #1. This is the game right here. If Bucknell can break the press and get some easy buckets it can be close. If not, it's gonna be a long day for the Bison.
Zimmer's pick: WVU press is too much for Bucknell. 13.5 is a lot of points, but WVU isn't in danger of falling in the first round.
3:10 Eastern - TruTV 4. Florida vs. 13. East Tennessee St
Line: Florida -10
Preview: Florida comes into this game as a top 5 team in the nation defensively led by the perimeter defense of Kasey Hill and KeVaughn Allen. ETSU is a very efficient offense when they take care of the ball. Unfortunately, that's been a problem for them as they are #307 nationally in turnover rate, turning the ball over on over 20% of their possessions.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: ETSU FTA/FGA vs. Florida Bench Minutes. ETSU FTA/FGA #11, Florida Bench Minutes #57. ETSU relies on getting to the line to drive their offense. Unfortunately, Florida plays one of the deepest rotations in the tournament, so foul trouble is never an issue for them.
Zimmer's Pick: Closer game, Florida probably wins but there is def some upset potential here.
4:00 Eastern - TNT 5. Minnesota vs. 12. Middle Tennessee
Preview: Both of these teams were terribly seeded by the committee, with MTSU getting little respect and Minnesota getting way too much. Minnesota is very athletic and plays very good defense, although they are young and limited offensively. MTSU has loads of experience with Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts back from a team that upset Michigan State in the first round last year.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: Effective FG% Minnesota #249, MTSU #35. Minnesota can really struggle sometimes in the half court offense, especially when Nate Mason isn't involved in the possession. MTSU is a very strong, well rounded team.
Zimmer's Pick: MTSU is just flat out better and I expect them to win. This Minnesota team will be dangerous in years to come if they keep adding recruits, but they're not there yet.
4:30 - TBS 8. Northwestern vs. 9. Vanderbilt
Line: Vanderbilt -1
Preview: Finally after decades of basketball in Evanston, they finally make their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Chris Collins is a very good young coach, but NW enters the tournament on a bit of a slide, losing 7 of their last 10 games against teams that aren't Rutgers. Vanderbilt has 3 wins over Florida but not much else on their resume.
Kenpom Stat O' The Game: Tempo. NW #300, Vanderbilt #284. This is going to be a half court showdown. Both teams play slow, stay off the offensive glass to get back on defense. Points will be at a premium.
Zimmer's Pick: Northwestern gets their first ever Tournament win in their first game there.
That's it for now. Will get previews of the night games up sometime tonight. Quick night game preview: