It’s finally here. The 2014 NCAA Basketball tournament, or as most people call it “March Madness.” There are some high quality first round matchups that should get the excitement started from the beginning. The Madness starts tomorrow at noon with Ohio State and Dayton tipping it off, so kick back, relax, maybe grab some popcorn, and watch one of the greatest spectacles in sports. Here are the top matchups of a packed first round.
5 VCU vs. 12 SF Austin Mar 21st, 7:27 pm: Virginia Commonwealth University is usually a sleeper to go far in this tournament, but this year they are the ones being hunted instead of being the hunter. Stephen F Austin is 31-2 this year and has been vastly underrated nationally this season. This may be their time to break out and surprise the nation against the Golden Rams of VCU.
11 Dayton vs. 6 Ohio State Mar 20th, 12’15 pm: The battle for Ohio will be center stage as these two instate teams are set to square off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Dayton was one of the top teams in the Atlantic Ten, while Ohio State started off the season very strong but struggled down the home stretch of the season. Dayton is primed for an upset against the big boys from Columbus.
12 Harvard vs. 5 Cincinnati Mar 20th, 2:15 pm: Harvard was one of the Cinderella stories from last season’s tournament. This year, the Crimson are much more known nationally, and you know the Bearcats will be ready. The Bearcats have had one of their best seasons in eight years under Head Coach Mick Cronin, and are lead by their fantastic senior point guard Sean Kilpatrick. Will Harvard have the nation fall in love with them two years in a row?
10 Saint Joe’s vs. 7 UConn Mar 20th, 6:15 pm: Saint Joe’s is insanely hot entering into the tournament coming off of their improbable Atlantic Ten tournament victory. They will be put to the test against Shabazz Napier and the seventh seeded Huskies of Connecticut. UConn is three years removed from their unbelievable run to take the national championship behind Kemba Walker. Napier has many of the same qualities as Walker so it should be interesting to see if he can replicate Walker’s performance. This should be a very interesting first round matchup as both of these teams have the ability to go far in this tournament.
11 Nebraska vs. 6 Baylor Mar 21st, 12:40 pm: The sweethearts of the Big Ten, Nebraska, will matchup with the supremely athletic Baylor Bears. Nebraska was picked to finish last in the Big Ten in the pre-season. They shockingly wound up fourth in the conference and are another hot team entering into the tournament. Baylor has one of the best shooters in all of the country, Brady Heslip. Baylor will challenge Nebraska with their length and physicality. Can Nebraska keep up their special season? We’ll find out soon enough
6 UMass vs. 11 Tennessee/Iowa Mar 21st, 2:45 pm: Tennessee will matchup with Iowa in the last play in game before the tournament. Whoever wins that game will have a favorable matchup with Massachusetts. UMass started off the season very strong but really floundered toward the end of the season. We’ll see if they can turn it around in their first tournament appearance since 1998.
Here is a link to this years tournament bracket