2013 NCAA Tournament Predictions: First Four

March 18, 2013

Before I go any further, I will add the disclaimer that I include in my NCAA Tournament prediction articles each year to avoid having an angry mob of people beating down my door looking for the money that “I lost them”. Everything in this post and subsequent tournament posts are my opinions on the NCAA Tournament. I cannot guarantee that taking my advice on anything will help you win your respective office pool or any other bracket game you may play. The truth is, a lot of it comes down to luck and circumstance, and no matter how much I analyze and stress over the matchups, I am not really giving myself (or anyone else who decides to listen to me) a true advantage over anyone else. Although I have won a bracket pool with more than five people in it in previous years, my argument still holds water. With that being said, I do this purely out of joy for the game, and out of hope that I can stir up conversation between anyone who reads my work.

As usual, I’m sure that you did not take the time to read that particularly long paragraph. To recapture your attention, here’s a picture of a hot chick.

Hi. Welcome back.

Now, here are my predictions and some other interesting things about the first four games of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, to be played Tuesday and Wednesday night.

First Round Games to Watch

#11 Middle Tennessee State vs. #11 St. Mary’s (Tues, following N.C. A&T vs. Liberty game)

It isn’t often that you’ll see two teams with 27-plus wins in an NCAA Tournament play-in game, so take in the experience while you can. Both the Blue Raiders and Gaels are in the position that they are due to the fact that no one is really sure what either team is capable of doing. Each team has a gaudy record, but Middle Tennessee State’s best win is over Vanderbilt while St. Mary’s probably got in the tournament because of a victory over Creighton. Thus, we could be watching a game between two very good squads that simply haven’t had a chance to prove it, or we could simply be watching two average teams that look better on paper than they really are.

If not for anything else, this game is worth watching because of St. Mary’s senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who seems like he’s been in college forever. In reality, he is probably well known even though he plays for a mid-major school not only because of his trademark mouth guard, but also because he is one of the best distributors in the nation. Dellavedova will be very difficult for Middle Tennessee State to contain, especially if he is shooting well from outside. At any rate, the team that comes out of this game may have a shot at making it at least a round further. Memphis awaits the winner, and while the Tigers are a strong team, they turn the ball over quite a bit.

#13 Boise State vs. #13 La Salle (Wed, following LIU Brooklyn vs. James Madison game)

Both the Broncos and the Explorers represent the last team that made it into the field of 68 from their respective conferences, but this game has the potential to be a very good one. Boise State has held their own against some very solid teams this season, including Michigan State and Creighton on the road (the Broncos beat the Blue Jays 83-70 in Omaha). La Salle wasn’t too shabby out of conference either, posting wins over Villanova and Iona, both tournament teams. Also, the Atlantic 10’s strength increased significantly this past season with the addition of VCU and Butler, so the Explorers are battle tested heading into the Big Dance.

With little to separate these two teams, you have to look at who could make big plays when needed down the stretch. Boise State has relied heavily on guards Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks this season, and both players are capable of taking high pressure shots. The Broncos have a chance to put themselves on the map for something other than success on the gridiron, but it will not be easy. Boise State has struggled on the road this season, and La Salle is much closer to home as this game is being played in Dayton. Don’t be surprised if this game comes down to a final shot.

Team That Could Make a Run

Boise State

It might be more likely that St. Mary’s makes it out of Dayton, but the Broncos have the best chance to do damage as the tournament continues if they manage to beat La Salle. Next up for Boise State would be a game against Kansas State in Kansas City, which would seem to heavily favor the Wildcats at first glance. However, when you take a look at Kansas State’s schedule, it becomes apparent that the Wildcats didn’t fare too well against its stiffest out-of-conference competition.

The Broncos are not flashy by any means, but they do have the ability to come back from behind and can hold on to a slim lead thanks to solid free throw shooting (73.3% as a team is tied for 21st in the nation). Plus, it is still a mystery as to whether or not the Mountain West is truly as good a conference as its conference RPI ranking would suggest. If it is, then Boise State is a really gritty team that will be a pain for anyone the Broncos play.

My Picks

#16 N.C. A&T over #16 Liberty

#11 St. Mary’s over #11 Middle Tennessee State

#16 LIU Brooklyn over #16 James Madison

#13 Boise State over #13 La Salle

– K. Becks

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