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Joe Boozell | | March 22, 2019

March Madness predictions: Every NCAA first round game picked

The best dunks in the tournament, so far

The greatest few days in American sports continues today.

Here's a prediction for every 2019 NCAA tournament first-round game.

East Region

Duke boasts top seed in East Region

(1) Duke vs. (16) North Dakota State

No need to get cute here. Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and the crew should roll with ease.

Winner: Duke

(8) VCU vs. (9) UCF

The Rams' defense is the best unit in this game by far, but this is a fantastic 8-9 matchup. VCU ranks seventh in the country in defense, per KenPom. UCF's offense is hit-or-miss, and it will struggle putting up points in this pressure-packed environment.

Winner: VCU

(5) Mississippi State vs. (12) Liberty

This will be a good one, but the Mississippi State backcourt of Lamar Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon could overwhelm Liberty. The Flames' stoppers are in the frontcourt, and that duo has the potential to run wild.

Winner: Mississippi State

(4) Virginia Tech vs. (13) Saint Louis

Justin Robinson is back, and this is a fascinating clash of styles. The Hokies love to bomb 3s. Saint Louis loves to slow the game down. Virginia Tech has far more firepower, though, and has been playing well after some turbulence about a month ago.

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Winner: Virginia Tech

(6) Maryland vs. (11) Belmont

We initially made this pick before Belmont defeated Temple and we're sticking with it. The Bruins are outstanding offensively, and have only lost once since Jan. 17. Belmont makes 59.5 percent of its 2s, good for second in the country. Look for the Bruins to make Bruno Fernando come outside of the paint and guard ball screen after ball screen.

Winner: Belmont

(3) LSU vs. (14) Yale

This is probably the most likely 14-over-3 upset candidate, but we're still going with LSU. The Tigers went 16-2 in one of the best conferences in America. That said, this could come down to the wire, and Yale's Miye Oni is one of the most well-rounded players in the field.

Winner: LSU

(7) Louisville vs. (10) Minnesota

Richard Pitino takes on his dad's former school, and the Cardinals are vulnerable right now, having lost eight of their last 12. The Amir Coffey-Jordan Murphy pair can be dominant for Minnesota. The Gophers have beaten 3 seed Purdue twice this March, which is awfully impressive.

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Winner: Minnesota

(2) Michigan State vs. (15) Bradley

Sparty should roll here. Tom Izzo has arguably done his best coaching job ever with this group, and Bradley doesn't have the guys to hang.

Winner: Michigan State

West Region

Mark Few shares thoughts on Zags' No. 1 seed in West Region

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Fairleigh Dickinson

This is a really strong group of 1 seeds, and Gonzaga arguably has the best starting five in the country. Should be a blowout.

Winner: Gonzaga

(8) Syracuse vs. (9) Baylor

Hard to pick against Syracuse in the NCAA tournament these days, right? The Orange have won seven games in their last two tourney appearances, and they have a higher seed in 2019 than they did in 2016 or 2018.

Winner: Syracuse

(5) Marquette vs. (12) Murray State

The best individual matchup of the first round: Ja Morant vs. Markus Howard. Give us Morant, who more or less single-handedly beat Belmont in the OVC title game. Marquette has struggled lately, having lost five of its last six.

Winner: Murray State

(4) Florida State vs. (13) Vermont

The Seminoles have crazy depth. They have eight guys who average at least six points per game. FSU looks primed for a deep run — it's only lost two games since Jan. 20. The opponents? North Carolina and Duke. The Seminoles have dominated lesser competition along the way.

Winner: Florida State

(6) Buffalo vs. (11) Arizona State

Buffalo upset Arizona last year, and this year's crew is even better. C.J. Massinburg is a stud, and while Arizona St. could present challenges, the Bulls are far more consistent.

Buffalo upsets Arizona, 89-68

Winner: Buffalo

(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Northern Kentucky

Texas Tech suffered a surprising loss in the Big 12 tournament, but it was on fire before that, having won nine in a row. It's hard to pick against Jarrett Culver and the No. 1 defense in the land.

Winner: Texas Tech

(7) Nevada vs. (10) Florida

Nevada is the oldest team in the field, made it to the Sweet 16 last year, and has two guys who average at least 17 points per game. Florida has athletes, but its offense is maddeningly inconsistent.

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Winner: Nevada

(2) Michigan vs. (15) Montana

Michigan has zero sub-40 KenPom losses this year. The Wolverines beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and it should handle Montana just fine.

Winner: Michigan

South Region

Virginia is the No. 1 seed out of the South Region

(1) Virginia vs. (16) Gardner-Webb

No repeat of last year, but this will be one to watch. We can't overstate how important it is that De'Andre Hunter is healthy for the Cavaliers.

Winner: Virginia

(8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Oklahoma

Ole Miss has really fallen lately, having lost five of seven. Christian James and Brady Manek are big wings who can guard, shoot and penetrate. They are inherently valuable because of how many boxes they check. Look for both guys to make a big impact in this one.

Winner: Oklahoma

(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Oregon

Oregon is the trendy upset pick, and it's easy to see why. The game is in San Jose and the Ducks are on fire. But Ethan Happ is a top 10 (or higher) player, and the Badgers have the No. 3 defense and a recently successful NCAA tournament track record.

Oregon beats Washington to claim Pac-12 title

Winner: Wisconsin

(4) Kansas State vs. (13) UC Irvine

Dean Wade's status is unclear for Kansas State, and Russell Turner can flat out coach. The Anteaters haven't lost since Jan. 16 and have the best 2-point defense in the country. The Wildcats only rank 102nd in offense, and that number factors in Wade. Give us UC Irvine in an upset.

Winner: UC Irvine

(6) Villanova vs. (11) Saint Mary's

Villanova gets more than half of its offense from behind the 3-point line, and Saint Mary's only allows foes to make 31.8 percent of its 3s. Granted, the Wildcats can light up anyone on the right night. But the Gaels are fresh off a win over Gonzaga, and are equipped to handle the Villanova perimeter attack.

Winner: Saint Mary's

(3) Purdue vs. (14) Old Dominion

Carsen Edwards will easily be the best player on the floor, and Purdue surrounds him with shooting. Old Dominion ranks 216th in offense and probably isn't the team that can exploit the Boilermakers' weaknesses on that end.

Winner: Purdue

(7) Cincinnati vs. (10) Iowa

Cincinnati looks better than a 7 seed right now; it just beat Houston easily in the AAC final, and the Cougars are good enough to make the Final Four. Tyler Cook and Luka Garza won't overpower the Bearcats' front line like they do to so many others.

Committee chair Bernard Muir fields questions about the selection process

Winner: Cincinnati

(2) Tennessee vs. (15) Colgate

Colgate likely won't have an answer for Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, and on the off chance it does, the Volunteers have another dimension this year with point guard Jordan Bone's rapid emergence.

Winner: Tennessee


North Carolina claims the top spot in the Midwest Region

(1) North Carolina vs. (16) Iona

Tar Heels should have no issue here. They are a legit national title contender, and while Iona is a nice story, it doesn't match up guy for guy.

Winner: North Carolina

We checked to see if 16 vs. 1 games have been getting closer.

(8) Utah State vs. (9) Washington

Washington is excellent at taking the ball away from foes, and Utah State coughs it up on almost 18 percent of its possessions, which ranks 126th. Teams seem to have trouble navigating zones during tournament play. Just ask Syracuse.

Winner: Washington

(5) Auburn vs. (12) New Mexico State

A fascinating 5-12 matchup, but Auburn has elite guard play and momentum on its side. The Tigers just rolled Tennessee, and Jared Harper and Bryce Brown thrive in big games.

Missing content item.

Winner: Auburn

(4) Kansas vs. (13) Northeastern

Dedric Lawson should be able to overpower perimeter-oriented Northeastern. Bill Coen's team can really shoot it, but it will need to get crazy hot from 3-point land to top the Jayhawks.

Winner: Kansas

(6) Iowa State vs. (11) Ohio State

Ohio State has really scuffled in the second half of the season, and the Cyclones are playing some of their best ball of the year. Marial Shayok will be the best player on the floor, and ISU simply has a higher overall skill level.

Winner: Iowa State

How many No. 1 seeds should you pick in your bracket?

(3) Houston vs. (14) Georgia State

The Cougars stumbled against the Bearcats, but they are 31-3 for a reason and have a top 15 defense. Georgia State is outside of the top 100 on both ends of the floor.

Winner: Houston

(7) Wofford vs. (10) Seton Hall

Wofford shoots 41.6 percent from 3-point range, which ranks second in the country. Seton Hall ranks 129th in 3-point defense. America will know Fletcher Magee's name by the end of this one.

Winner: Wofford

(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Abilene Christian

John Calipari-coached Kentucky teams don't get upset in the first round. P.J. Washington and Reid Travis will be too much for the undersized Wildcats to stop.

Winner: Kentucky

March Madness 2019 dates, schedule, live streams and TV networks

Game Livestream Time (ET) TV Site
Monday, April 8        
Virginia 85, Texas Tech 77 (OT)
NCAA National Championship
March Madness Live 9:20 p.m. CBS Minneapolis, MN
Past results:        
Saturday, April 6        
Virginia 63, Auburn 62 (Final Four) March Madness Live 6:09 p.m. CBS Minneapolis, MN
Texas Tech 61, Michigan State 51 (Final Four) March Madness Live 8:49 p.m. CBS Minneapolis, MN
Sunday, March 31        
Auburn 77, Kentucky (OT)
(Midwest Regional Final
March Madness Live 2:20 p.m. CBS Kansas City, MO
Michigan State (68), Duke (67)
(East Regional Final)
March Madness Live 5:05 p.m. CBS Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 30        
Texas Tech 75, Gonzaga 69
(West Regional Final)
March Madness Live 6:09 p.m. TBS Anaheim, CA
Virginia 80, Purdue 75 (OT)
(South Regional Final)
March Madness Live 8:49 p.m. TBS Louisville, KY
First Four, Tuesday, March 19        
Fairleigh Dickinson 82, Prairie View A&M 76 March Madness Live 6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
Belmont 81, Temple 70  March Madness Live 9:00 pm TruTV Dayton, OH
First Four, Wednesday, March 20        
North Dakota State 78, NC Central 74 March Madness Live  6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
Arizona State 74, St. John's 65 March Madness Live 9:00 pm truTV Dayton, OH
First round, Thursday, March 21        
Minnesota 86, Louisville 76 March Madness Live 12:15 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
LSU 79, Yale 74 March Madness Live 12:40 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
Auburn 78, New Mexico State 77 March Madness Live  1:30 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Florida State 76, Vermont 69 March Madness Live 2:00 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Michigan State 76, Bradley 65 March Madness Live  2:45 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Maryland 79, Belmont 77 March Madness Live 3:10 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
Kansas 87, Northeastern 53 March Madness Live 4:00 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Murray State 83, Marquette 64 March Madness Live 4:30 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Florida 70, Nevada 61 March Madness Live 6:50 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44 March Madness Live 7:10 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Villanova 61, Saint Mary's 57 March Madness Live 7:20 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Gonzaga 87, Fairleigh Dickinson 49 March Madness Live 7:27 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
Michigan 74, Montana 55 March Madness Live 9:20 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Wofford 84, Seton Hall 68 March Madness Live 9:40 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Purdue 61, Old Dominion 48 March Madness Live 9:50 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Baylor 78, Syracuse 69 March Madness Live 9:57 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
First round, Friday, March 22        
Iowa 79, Cincinnati 72  March Madness Live 12:15 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Oklahoma 95, Mississippi 72 March Madness Live 12:40 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Texas Tech 72, Northern Kentucky 57 March Madness Live 1:30 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
UC Irvine 70, Kansas State 64 March Madness Live 2:00 pm  TBS San Jose, CA
Tennessee 77, Colgate 70 March Madness Live 2:45 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Virginia 71, Gardner-Webb 56 March Madness Live 3:10 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Buffalo 91, Arizona State 74 March Madness Live 4:00 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Oregon 72, Wisconsin 54 March Madness Live 4:30 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Washington 78, Utah State 61 March Madness Live 6:50 pm TNT Columbus, OH
Duke 85, North Dakota State 62 March Madness Live 7:10 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Houston 84, Georgia State 55 March Madness Live 7:20 pm TBS Tulsa, OK 
Liberty 80, Mississippi State 76 March Madness Live 7:27 pm truTV San Jose, CA
North Carolina 88, Iona 73 March Madness Live 9:20 pm TNT Columbus, OH
UCF 73, VCU 58 March Madness Live 9:40 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Ohio State 62, Iowa State 59 March Madness Live 9:50 pm TBS Tulsa, OK
Virginia Tech 66, Saint Louis 52 March Madness Live  9:57 pm truTV San Jose, CA
Second round, Saturday, March 23        
LSU 69, Maryland 67 March Madness Live 12:10 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Kentucky 62, Wofford 56 March Madness Live 2:40 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Michigan 64, Florida 49 March Madness Live 5:15 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Florida State 90, Murray State 62 March Madness Live 6:10 pm TNT Hartford, CT
Gonzaga 83, Baylor 71 March Madness Live 7:10 pm TBS Salt Lake City, UT
Michigan State 70, Minnesota 50 March Madness Live 7:45 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Purdue 87, Villanova 61 March Madness Live 8:40 pm TNT Hartford, CT
Auburn 89, Kansas 75 March Madness Live 9:40 pm TBS Salt Lake City, UT
Second round, Sunday, March 24        
Tennessee 83, Iowa 77 (OT) March Madness Live 12:10 pm CBS Columbus, OH
North Carolina 81, Washington 59 March Madness Live 2:40 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Duke 77, UCF 76 March Madness Live 5:25 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Texas Tech 78, Buffalo 58 March Madness Live 6:10 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Virginia Tech 67, Liberty 58 March Madness Live 7:10 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Virginia 63, Oklahoma 51 March Madness Live 7:45 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Houston 74, Ohio State 59 March Madness Live 8:40 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Oregon 73, UC Irvine 54 March Madness Live 9:40 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Sweet 16, Thursday, March 28        
Gonzaga 72, Florida State 58 March Madness Live 7:09 pm CBS Anaheim, CA
Purdue 99, Tennessee 94 (OT) March Madness Live 7:29 pm TBS Louisville, KY
Texas Tech 63, Michigan 44 March Madness Live 9:39 pm CBS Anaheim, CA
Virginia 53, Oregon 49 March Madness Live 9:57 pm TBS Louisville, KY
Sweet 16, Friday, March 29        
Michigan State 80, LSU 63 March Madness Live 7:09 pm CBS Washington, D.C.
Auburn 97, North Carolina 80 March Madness Live 7:29 pm TBS Kansas City, MO
Duke 75, Virginia Tech 73 March Madness Live 9:39 pm CBS Washington, D.C.
Kentucky 62, Houston 58 March Madness Live 9:57 pm TBS Kansas City, MO

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