Last night, the first four kicked off the NCAA tournament in a fun fashion with a set of four games that were a lot of fun. We’re used to seeing the First Four in Dayton a couple days before the tournament starts, but the staggered game starts was a terrific addition and helped lead to the build up of the big full first day of the tournament starting today.
This is my favorite time of year. There are 16 games today, 16 tomorrow, 8 on Sunday and another 8 on Monday. Wall to wall basketball. As Missouri fans, this is only the second time in the last 8 years when we’ve had our team in contention... so I’ll forgive you if you’re out of practice a bit.
So while you can have fun watching all 16 games, and if you’re like me you’ll do just that, here’s a few with story lines a which might hold a little more interest to you as we wait for the 6:25 tip tomorrow night.
Former Mizzou Opponents Edition:
Florida (7) vs Virginia Tech (10) — 11:15 am, CBS
Reasons to watch: Obviously, it’s a former Mizzou opponent and SEC rival! Missouri beat Florida at home on a last second layup by Dru Smith. The Gators have lost 3 of their last four games, and face a tough Virginia Tech squad who are really well coached. I love watching Tre Mann, and if he brings his A game I think that might be enough to move onto the second round.
Arkansas (3) vs Colgate (14) — 11:45 am, TruTV
This is a dangerous game for Arkansas, a team I’m still not convinced is quite at the 3-seed level. They certainly won the games but Colgate is a top 100 level team who plays really efficient basketball. They’ve also only played 15 games and haven’t seen anyone like Arkansas with their depth and athleticism. Colgate is 9th in the NET, and this also brought my favorite joke of the seeding which was something along the lines of Arkansas struggling historically against toothpaste.
Illinois (1) vs Drexel (16) — 12:15 pm, TBS
MIzzou’s first big win of the season came against the then top 10 Illini and now 1-seeded Illini. This doesn’t figure to be much of a matchup, but a chance to see the Tigers’ biggest win of the season look a little better. Hopefully Kofi Cockburn avoids smacking any Drexel players in the face.
Ohio State (2) vs Oral Roberts (15) — 2:00 pm, CBS
This is nothing more than an E.J. Liddell matchup vs another former Mizzou opponent in the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts. I do like this ORU team with Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor, but I don’t think they’ll have enough to stick with the Buckeyes.
Tennessee (5) vs Oregon State (12) — 4:30 pm, TNT
Another big win the Tigers had this year was their revenge win over Tennessee in Knoxville. Tennessee is a team who runs hot and cold, they’re prone to turnovers and were largely disappointing for large portions of the season. Oregon State was predicted to be dead in the water before the season and finished .500 in the Pac-12 and won the Pac-12 tournament. A hot team is a dangerous team, and with UT’s issues on offense this could be a tough matchup.
Oklahoma State (4) vs L*berty (13) — 5:25 pm, TBS
Watch this because you want to watch future number 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Cade Cunningham take it to that school that Mizzou beat back in December.
Just expect a good game Edition:
Texas Tech (6) vs Utah State (11) — 12:45 pm, TNT
Chris Beard teams always come ready to play, and they will defend with effort like you wouldn’t believe. Utah State won 15 games in the Mountain West and narrowly lost the conference tournament title game. Neemias Queta is a big high usage big man and a tough matchup for anyone which should give Utah State some second chance opportunities and keep them in a close low possession game.
Loyola (8) vs Georgia Tech (9) — 3:00 pm, TBS
Loyola, the highest rated KenPom team with the lowest seed versus the Yellow Jackets, who won the ACC Tournament. Winning the ACC came at a cost as GA Tech is without Moses Brown, who was the ACC Player of the Year, due to COVID protocols. It makes it doubly tough as he would have been a tough matchup for MVC Player of the Year Cameron Krutwig. Georgia Tech has won 8 in a row, and Loyola has a 6 game win streak at stake.
North Carolina (8) vs Wisconsin (9) — 6:10 pm, CBS
I’m adding this in case you want to watch former Mizzou target Caleb Love against something as boring as Wisconsin Basketball.
Villanova (5) vs Winthrop (12) — 8:57 pm, TNT
Jay Wright’s team has limped down the stretch, quite literally. They’re without Collin Gillespie, the co-co-Big East Player of the Year. So Nova has lost three of their last four games, and faces a Winthrop team who has only faced one top 100 team, only has two Quad 2 wins, but are 23-1 on the season.
The rest of the games:
- (1) Baylor vs. (16) Hartford — 3:30 pm, TruTV
- (2) Houston vs. (15) Cleveland State — 7:15 pm, TruTV
- (4) Purdue vs. (13) North Texas7:25 pm, TNT
- (7) Clemson vs. (10) Rutgers — 9:20 pm, TBS
- (6) San Diego State vs. (11) Syracuse — 9:40 pm, CBS
- (3) West Virginia vs. (14) Morehead State — 9:50 pm, TruTV