(Editor’s note: this was written before the games started but not published until now because I’m an idiot who didn’t see it)
|Hawkeyes by 5
|Bulldogs by 14
|14 Abilene Christian
|Bruins by 4.5
|Bluejays by 5.5
|Wolverines by 5
|4 Florida State
|Noles by 1.5
|Tide by 5.5
|Trojans by a point
Today starts with Oregon finally taking the court in Indianapolis against Iowa. The Ducks roll out a front court of three players all listed at 6-foot-6 that’ll have their hands full against the 6-foot-11 Garza.
Next, Oklahoma finds out that they are probably not one of the very few teams in the country that can hang with Gonzaga. Gonzaga makes 63.8% of their 2’s! That’s preposterous, and solidly the best in the KenPom era.
Abilene Christian’s reward for winning that sloppy, ugly game against Texas is a match against UCLA, who followed their opening slop against MSU with a comfortable win against BYU. Somehow, I missed the fact that the Wildcats have a pass-first point guard named Reggie Miller.
We get into full multi-screen viewing time when Ohio and Creighton tip. It’ll be a contrast of styles at the point guard, as Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski is a shoot first, pass questions later court general, while the Bobcat’s Jason Preston has one of the highest assist rates in the country. Having Dwight Wilson make two-thirds of his 2’s makes dime dropping easy, I reckon.
LSU’s chances of knocking out another highly-seeded Big Ten team rest on patching their leaky defense. The Tigers hold opponents to a 29.6% 3 point percentage, but that’s the only real bright spot. The Tide beat them all three matches this year, but LSU whittled that deficit to a single point in the SEC championship game from a 30 point shellacking in their first meeting.
Colorado and Florida State are two programs that were rewarded for sticking with their coach. Leonard Hamilton started at FSU in 2003, had a brief run of four NCAA tournament appearances in 2009-12, but had four years of NIT runs afterwards until this current tournament streak. Colorado’s Tad Boyle started his tenure with four tournament appearances between his hiring in 2011 and 2016, but had two years of uneven play afterwards.
Alabama doesn’t shoot a lot of free throws. Maryland doesn’t foul often. Hopefully that means one of the night caps will have a good flow to watching the action play out.
The last game is the rare “higher seed is the Vegas underdog.” The Trojans rode freshman center Evan Mobley to a stellar Pac-12 finish. Kansas has quite a few big wins already in the regular season, and has the deep, experienced front court that plays good defense to slow Mobley down.
A Better David Bowie Song Than “Let’s Dance”
The Big Dance is a popular nickname for the NCAA tournament. “Let’s Dance” is objectively the worst David Bowie song. Here, I recommend a different song from Bowie’s catalog.
In honor of the Crimson Tide playing, let’s listen Bowie’s cover of “Alabama Song.” The original version was written for a 1920s German play about criminals founding a city based on vice and sin. That’s a way more compelling concept than “I like you and want to dance with you and if you don’t I’ll be sad.”