March Madness Opening Round Preview

March Madness Opening Round Preview

John Mowle, Sports Analyst

March Madness is here and after a great year of NCAA basketball, this March is shaping up to be a good one. With the amount of good bottom seed teams and lots of injuries on top teams, there will likely be more upsets than usual.


In this article we’re going to go through the best matchups in the first round and give predictions on how the games will go.


West Virginia (9) vs Maryland (8)


This is the first match up in the first round and it is looking to be a good one. 


This season Maryland at home was almost unbeatable taking down teams like Purdue, Indiana, and Northwestern. But on the road they were one of the worst teams only winning twice on the road. If Maryland can show up like they play at home they should be able to take this matchup, but it depends on which version of their team shows up.


West Virginia was expected to take a big fall off after losing seniors last season, but they bounced back and secured themselves a 9 seed. The Mountaineers have been a very streaking team this season but if they are playing well and Erik Stevenson who averaged 15.5 ppg this season can play well they can very easily take this game if Maryland doesn’t show up.


I think this game is a toss up but I’m going to take West Virginia due to Maryland’s play away from home this season.


Furman (13) vs Virginia (4)


Furman this season has been nearly unstoppable on offense being ranked 4 in adj offense this season. Their high power offense led by Mike Bothwell who averaged 18 ppg this season. Virginia’s defense is going to need to show up big in this game if they want to win.


Virginia is a veteran program who knows how to win in March. But their defense, which was ranked 41 this season, will need a great game. Virginia’s 69th ranked offense is going to need to have a scoring outburst just so they can keep up.


I think that Furman is going to take care of this game and advance.


Utah St (10) vs Missouri (7) 


The Missouri Tigers have had an amazing season so far led by star Kobe Brown who almost transferred after a poor season last year, but new head coach Dennis Gates convinced him to stay and it was the right decision. Missouri has been hot as of late winning 4 in a row before going into the SEC Tournament and defeating top teams like Tennessee and Kentucky this season and they look to continue their success vs Utah St.


The Utah St Aggies led by Steven Ashworth have a big challenge ahead of them vs Missouri, but they have the weapons to come away with a win. Head coach Ryan Odom was the head coach of UMBC in 2018, who are the only 16 seed to beat a 1 seed in March Madness. But Utah St playing in The Mountain West has had much worse competition but are still favored to win this game as the 10 seed.


I think Missouri should pretty easily handle this game and take down Utah St by a good amount. 


Louisiana (13) vs Tennessee (4)


Tennessee at points in the season has been amazing and being ranked 1 at points this season. But star point guard Zakai Zeigler ACL injury is a huge hit to their championship dreams. Tennessee is a very physical team and can out muscle their opponents if they want too.


Louisiana led by 6-11 star Jordan Brown who this season has averaged 19.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg. If Louisiana wants to make an upset happen then they’ll need a big game from him and they will need to play a very physical game.


I think Louisiana pulls off an upset led by a huge game from Jordan Brown.