College Sports

Pitino game opens the first full day of the Tournament. And what you need to know

Richard Pitino.
Richard Pitino. AP

EAST REGION

At Des Moines, Iowa

No. 10 Minnesota vs. No. 7 Louisville

When, TV: 11:15 a.m., CBS

Of note: Story line out of the gate: Golden Gophers Coach Richard Pitino goes against his father Rick’s old school. Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy is one of the nation’s top rebounders at 11.5 boards per game. Louisville has lost eight of its last 12. One thing the Cardinals do well, shoot free throws at 77.6 percent. That could be big in a close game.

Line: Louisville by 5

Prediction: Louisville 67-64

No. 15 Bradley vs. No. 2 Michigan State

When, TV: 1:45 p.m., CBS

Of note: It’s been a tough three years for the Spartans, who haven’t gotten out of the first weekend since reaching the 2015 Final Four. All-America guard Cassius Winston leads the way at 18.9 points per game. Bradley started 0-5 in Missouri Valley Conference play and was the fifth seed in the league tournament. The Braves knocked off last year’s NCAA darling Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals.

Line: Michigan State by 18 ½

Prediction: Michigan State 85-62

At Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 14 Yale vs. No. 3 LSU

When, TV: 11:40 a.m., truTV

Of note: Will Wade remains suspended and won’t be with the SEC regular season champions who do many things well except beat Florida (1-2 this season) and hit three pointers (32.2). Yale won the Ivy title and looks to wave the same wand it did in 2016 when the Bulldogs upset Baylor in the first round.

Line: LSU by 7 ½

Prediction: LSU 81-70

No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Maryland

When, TV: 2:10 p.m., truTV

Of note: The Bruins defeated Temple in the First Four for the program’s first NCAA victory, and look to keep alive a streak of a First Four survivor winning at least one game in the round of 64. It’s happened every year since 2011. Maryland, in its fourth NCAA Tournament in five years, must find a way to slow Belmont, which is the second highest scoring team at 87.4 points and fourth-best shooting team at 49.9 percent from the floor.

Line: Maryland by 3

Prediction: Belmont 80-75

MIDWEST REGION

At Salt Lake City

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Auburn

When, TV: 12:30 p.m., TNT

Of note: A No. 12 seed is respect for WAC champ New Mexico State, one of five 30-victory teams in the field. The Aggies are a balanced team with the team averaging 78.1 points and leading scorer Terrell Brown at 11.3. Auburn was sensational in winning the SEC and loves the three-pointer at 11.3 per game.

Line: Auburn by 5 ½

Prediction: Auburn 75-70

No. 13 Northeastern vs. No. 4 Kansas

When, TV: 3 p.m., TNT

Of note: Northeastern Coach Bill Coen is in his 13th season and this is his second NCAA Tournament. The Huskies have won 16 of 18 including the Colonial tournament. It’s likely Kansas won’t start a player who suited up for the Jayhawks’ Final Four run last season.

Line: Kansas by 6 1/2

Prediction: Kansas 63-60

At Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 15 Abilene Christian vs. No. 2 Kentucky

When, TV: 6:10 p.m. CBS

Of note: Abilene Christian reached the tournament in its second year of eligibility after transitioning from Division II. The Wildcats finished second in the Southland but won the tournament. It’s a balanced scoring team that shoots the three-pointer at 38.6 percent. Kentucky last lost in the first round in 2008.

Line: Kentucky by 22

Prediction: Kentucky 90-67

No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Wofford

When, TV: 8:40 p.m., CBS

Of note: Wofford’s Fletcher Magee is this year’s version of Steph Curry, a perimeter shooting specialist. If Magee knocks down three against the Pirates, he’ll own the NCAA record for career triples with 505. Seton Hall was picked to finish eighth in the Big East after losing four starters but took third.

Line: Wofford by 2 ½

Prediction: Wofford 70-65

WEST REGION

At Hartford, Conn.

No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Florida State

When, TV: 1 p.m., TBS

Of note: Anthony Lamb averages 21.4 points for the Catamounts who rolled through the America East tournament. This was the conference that produced giant-killer UMBC last season. Florida State has won 14 of its last 16 losing only to North Carolina and Duke.

Line: Florida State by 9

Prediction: Florida State 80-67

No. 12 Murray State vs. No. 5 Marquette

When, TV: 3:30 p.m., TBS

Of note: Two of college basketball’s best players battle in this can’t miss game. Ja Morant does everything for the Racers, averaging 24.6 points, 10.1 assists and 5.2 turnovers. Markus Howard averages 25 points for Marquette. First player to 40 wins?

Line: Marquette by 4

Prediction: Murray State 80-76

At Des Moines, Iowa

No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Nevada

When, TV: 5:50 p.m., TNT

Of note: Styles contrast. The Gators are one of the nation’s top defensive teams and will attempt to slow the tempo on a Nevada team that likes to push the pace and averages 81 points per game. The Wolf Pack is led by Caleb Martin (19.2) and Jordan Caroline (17.3).

Line: Nevada by 2

Prediction: Florida 68-64

No. 15 Montana vs. No. 2 Michigan

When, TV: 8:20 p.m., TNT

Of note: How odd is this? For the second straight year, the Wolverines and Grizzlies are matched up in the first round. Michigan won last year’s game as a No. 3 seed by 14. Montana is a terrific three-point shooting team and that should keep things close.

Line: Michigan by 15

Prediction: Michigan 61-51

At Salt Lake City

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 1 Gonzaga

When, TV: 6:27 p.m., truTV

Of note: With 33 points and Prairie View A&M, Fairleigh Dickinson’s Darnell Edge became the tournament’s first hero. The task gets taller for the Knights, who take on the top seed. Edge sounded confident after the victory. “UMBC showed us anything is possible,” said Edge, referring to UMBC’s upset of top-seeded Virginia in last year’s tournament.

Line: Gonzaga by 27 ½

Prediction: Gonzaga 88-70

No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 8 Syracuse

When, TV: 8:57 p.m., truTV

Of note: If you love zone, watch this one as both favor the defense. Syracuse is expected to get back guard Tyus Battle, the team’s top scorer at 17.2 points who missed two ACC Tournament games with a sore back. Baylor guard Makai Mason missed time late in the season with a toe injury but should play.

Line: Syracuse by 2 ½

Prediction: Syracuse 64-60

SOUTH REGION

at Hartford, Conn.

No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 6 Villanova

When, TV: 6:20 p.m., TBS

Of note: This could be the slowest paced game of the first round. St. Mary’s has the nation’s seventh slowest tempo, Villanova the 21st. The Gaels have won seven of eight including a takedown of Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference final. The Wildcats wear the championship belt.

Line: Villanova by 4 ½

Prediction: Villanova 66-59

No. 14 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 Purdue

When, TV: 8:50 p.m., TBS

Of note: The Monarchs know how to win close games, taking three Conference USA tourney games by a total of nine points. Old Dominion starts 7-1 Elbert Robinson and brings 7-0 Dajour Dickens off the bench. Boilermakers All-America Carsen Edwards has been dealing with back issues the past couple of weeks.

Line: Purdue by 12 ½

Prediction: Purdue 65-58

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