NCAA Tournament Round One Primer
By: Benedict Tagle
Session 1 - Friday, March 17th, 2017 | Tip-off at 11:00am PT
3 Oregon (29-5) vs. 14 Iona (22-12)
The high-profile team from Eugene enters Golden 1 Center for their fifth-straight trip to the Big Dance. Led by a veteran squad, including Dillon Brooks, they look to improve their performance from a year ago, when the Ducks reached the Elite Eight.
To get that far, they must first face Iona, a team making their second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The contest between the two will undoubtedly be a high-scoring affair, with both teams in the nation’s top 50 for scoring. Iona is also in the top 10 of all teams in the country in made 3-pointers.
The matchup has the potential to be a barnburner.
6 Creighton (25-9) vs. 11 Rhode Island (24-9)
Both teams were preseason favorites to make a run in the postseason, and now face each other in the first round. Creighton was a top five offense nationally and ranked in the top 10 earlier this season. Injury started to take its toll, but they have done well to position themselves into a sixth seed. The Blue Jays are top 20 in the nation in scoring.
Rhode Island was ranked in the top 25 in the preseason, and as of late, are beginning to look like the team that’s coming into form. Making their first appearance in the postseason tournament since 1999, they look to make an impact. They will provide an interesting contrast to Creighton, as the Rams are 32nd in the country in scoring defense.
Where to watch: TBS for both games.
Session 2 - Friday, March 17th, 2017 | Tip-off at 4:27pm PT
6 Cincinnati (29-4) vs. 11 Kansas State (21-13)
The Bearcats are making their seventh-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 31st overall. This team is all about defense. They are top five in the nation in scoring D, holding opposing teams to just 60.8 points per game. On the offensive end, expect to see a flurry of passes, as they are 41st in the nation in assists per contest.
Like Cincinnati, Kansas State is a familiar face to the postseason tournament, making their 29th overall appearance. They enter the matchup with a game already under their belt, besting Wake Forest in the First Four. The team was red hot, shooting 66 percent from the field in their victory over the Demon Deacons. If they have that kind of offense at Golden 1 Center, the contrast between the Wildcats and the defense of the Bearcats will be entertaining to watch.
3 UCLA (29-4) vs. 14 Kent State (22-13)
Perhaps the most high-profile team of the tournament begins their postseason journey in Sacramento as UCLA brings the very best offense in the nation to the Capital City. Led by freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf, their fast-paced, running offense will be on full display. The Bruins had the highest scoring team in the nation, as well as being tops in the country for assists per game and field-goal percentage. The team was also 13th in the country in 3-pointers made.
Kent State arrives to the tournament on a hot streak, making their way to Sacramento by sweeping the opposition in their conference tournament and winning the MAC. This is their first appearance in the Big Dance since 2008, and sixth overall. This will be their debut performance in the NCAA Tournament under coach Rob Senderoff.
Where to watch: Watch truTV for both games.