A preview of Thursday’s NCAA Tournament games
A look at Thursday’s NCAA Tournament games:
1. Villanova (30-4) vs. 16. Radford (23-12), TNT, 6:50 p.m.: Radford struggles offensively and tries to make up for it on the other end. The Highlanders don’t really have a chance, but they’ll try to turn it into a low-scoring, half-court game.
8. Virginia Tech (21-11) vs. 9. Alabama (19-15), TNT, 9:20 p.m.: This is worth watching for Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton, an ultra-quick guard who will be an NBA lottery pick. He’s probably going to be one-and-done in the tournament too, because Virginia Tech is a better all-around team with five double-figure scorers.
6. Florida (20-12) vs. 11. Saint Bonaventure (26-7) , 9:57 p.m. truTV: The Gators are unpredictable, capable of beating the best teams in the country but then losing home games to the dregs of the SEC. The Bonnies, underrated by the selection committee and many fans, have a dangerous backcourt with Jaylen Adams (19.8 ppg) and Matt Mobley (18.5). I’m expecting a lot of points.
3. Texas Tech (24-9) vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin (28-6), 7:27 p.m. truTV: There’s definitely some Texas rivalry here; it would be a monstrous, historic upset for SFA, but this group of Lumberjacks doesn’t compare to the 2016 squad that won an NCAA game. Tech has been overachieving all season and has done it by playing consistently. An upset is doubtful, but the Raiders need to take care of the ball, because SFA leads the nation in steals per game.
at Wichita, Kan.
1. Kansas (27-7) vs. 16. Penn (24-8), 2 p.m., TBS: If — and it’s a BIG IF — this historic upset happens, Penn would need a huge game from Northborough’s A.J. Brodeur plus about 15 3-pointers. Unlikely but not impossible, because this Kansas team doesn’t compare to past Jayhawk squads.
8. Seton Hall (21-11) vs. 9. North Carolina State (21-11), 4:30 p.m., TBS: The Hall is a unit that fits together well, and the Pirates have one of the best big men in the country in Angel Delgado (15.2 ppg, 11.6 rpg). N.C. State has exceeded expectations under first-year coach Kevin Keatts; next season might be the time for a first-round victory.
7. Rhode Island (25-7) vs. 10. Oklahoma (18-13), 12:15 p.m., CBS: Both teams are not in their best form. Oklahoma has All-America guard Trae Young, who leads the nation in scoring (27.4) and assists (8.8). Rhody has a small army of tough, physical guards to throw at him. The Rams’ depth could be the deciding factor.
2. Duke (26-7) vs. 15. Iona (20-13), 2:45 p.m., CBS: This will be a high-scoring game, as both teams like to play fast, but Iona doesn’t have the personnel to keep up for 40 minutes. Duke big men Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter should dominate.
5. Kentucky (24-10) vs. 12. Davidson (21-11), 7:10 p.m., CBS: Coach John Calipari feels his team was seeded incorrectly and unjustly placed in a remote site. The guy’s got it tough, doesn’t he? Actually, his group of talented but erratic freshmen will have their hands full with Davidson’s 3-point gunners, especially Peyton Aldridge.
4. Arizona (27-7) vs. 13. Buffalo (26-8), 9:40 p.m., CBS: I expect this game to be close in the second half. Buffalo plays up-tempo (84.8 ppg) with a trio of outstanding guards in C.J. Massinburg (16.9 ppg), Jeremy Harris (15.4), and Wes Clark (14.6) that will be tough to handle. Arizona has better players — especially big man DeAndre Ayton (20.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg), who should be the top pick in the NBA draft — and should prevail.
6. Miami (22-9) vs. 11. Loyola Chicago (28-5), 3:10 p.m., truTV: The Hurricanes will be without point guard Bruce Brown, which diminishes them. Loyola won at Florida this season and is back in the tournament for the first time since 1984-85 after winning the Missouri Valley. The Ramblers are a dangerous opponent.
3. Tennessee (25-8) vs. 14. Wright State (25-9), 12:40 p.m., truTV: Rick Barnes wins wherever he goes, and he’s done surprisingly well at Tennessee, where he has taken a faceless bunch, gotten them to play defense, and become a nationally ranked team. This might not be easy; Wright State is a decent unit led by an unusual player, Loudon Love, a 6-9, 275-pound center who looks like he should be playing offensive tackle in the Big Ten.
5. Ohio State (24-8) vs. 12. South Dakota State (28-6), 4 p.m., TNT: A stunningly surprising regular season ended poorly for Ohio State, and now the Buckeyes have to face “The Daumantor.’’ That’s Mike Daum, S.D. State’s 6-9, 250-pound forward who averages 23.8 ppg and 10.4 rpg with a nifty inside-outside game. The Buckeyes need to play together on defense and not let Daum go crazy.
4. Gonzaga (30-4) vs. 13. North Carolina Greensboro (27-7), 1:30 p.m., TNT: Unusually, Gonzaga was not overhyped this season and still put together a great season. The Zags do it with balance (five double-figure scorers) and great shooting (50.3 percent). Greensboro, which has won 11 of its last 12, will try to slow things down. It’s the Spartans’ only chance.
at Wichita, Kan.
6. Houston (26-7) vs. 11. San Diego State (22-10), 7:20 p.m., TBS: Houston is coached by Kelvin Sampson, who has won everywhere he’s been but also seems to bump into the NCAA enforcement crew. The latter hasn’t happened yet in Houston, where he has a firm defensive commitment from his team and a man-bunned star in Rob Gray. San Diego State was an upset winner of the Mountain West tournament; the Aztecs do have a notable victory over Gonzaga.
3. Michigan (28-7) vs. 14. Montana (26-7), 9:50 p.m., TBS: Michigan is riding high after winning the Big Ten tournament, plus it has Moritz Wagner, whose name sounds like a ski resort but who is actually a versatile 6-11 player from Germany. Montana had a great season in the Big Sky Conference but failed in all of its key out-of-conference games.