The NCAA Tournament gets underway Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, and while the Arizona Wildcats aren't actually in one of these four games, one of them sets the Wildcats' first round opponent.
Here's a look at the times for the games:
|Tuesday, March 15||3:40 p.m.||truTV||Dayton I||Fla Gulf Coast Eagles vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights||Andrew Catalon / Steve Lappas // Jamie Erdahl|
|Tuesday, March 15||After conc. I||truTV||Dayton II||Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Wichita State Shockers||Catalon / Lappas // Erdahl|
|Wednesday, March 16||3:40 p.m.||truTV||Dayton I||Holy Cross Crusaders vs. Southern Jaguars||Carter Blackburn / Mike Gminski // Jaime Maggio|
|Wednesday, March 16||After conc. I||truTV||Dayton II||Michigan Wolverines vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane||Blackburn / Gminski //Maggio|
Still not sure where to find truTV because most of us only need it for this one week every year? Here's the official channel finder, and it's actually called "truTV is a thing", so there's that.
Arizona will play the winner of the Vanderbilt/Wichita State game on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island. On Sunday, Ryan Kelapire wrote a great breakdown of the two potential Wildcat opponents, and what they bring to the table for this one. In his final thoughts, this is what Ryan said about the two teams:
Both teams have notable strengths. For Wichita State, it's its defense, rebounding ability, ability to take care of the basketball, and a ton of NCAA Tournament experience. This will be the Shockers' fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in a row and their leaders, Baker and VanVleet, have played in a Final Four, Elite Eight, and two Sweet Sixteens.
Vanderbilt's strengths are its shot-blocking, size, defending the 3-point line, and shooting the 3.
As far as weaknesses go, Wichita State's offense, despite VanVleet running the show, is ranked just 81st in the country. It doesn't shoot the ball well from deep and it doesn't have a go-to low-post scorer. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is solid, but not much more than that on either end of the floor. It's also a below average rebounding team, especially on the offensive glass, and has little, if any, NCAA Tournament experience.
For what it's worth, our friends at Mid Major Madness predict a 71-59 Shocker victory. Anchor of Gold gives some thoughts on what it'll take for Vanderbilt to win
In the other Tuesday night game, we'll get Andy Enfield's old school, Dunk City, against FDU. Fairleigh Dickinson is a very young team, going up against a Florida Gulf Coast team that has won 20+ games in each of the last four years. According to Parks Smith, this should be a very uptempo, fun to watch game, so hopefully we'll get that as we wait for the second game to start. The FGCU/FDU winner will face North Carolina in the first round.
Wednesday's action features Holy Cross/Southern and Michigan/Tulsa. Holy Cross is easily the worst team in the field, posting a 14-19 overall record this season, and just a 5-13 record in the Patriot League. The Crusaders won four-straight road games at the end of the year to earn the automatic bid, and get a date with Southern. The Jaguars went 22-12, and 11-7 in the SWAC, good for fourth place in the regular season. The winner of this one gets Oregon in the first round.
Michigan/Tulsa will be interesting as not a lot of people expected Tulsa to be in the field (alright, no one, not even them). You know that this could be one of those situations where a team that everyone's complaining about being in the tournament goes on a Sweet 16 run. I think the more likely team to make the "First Four to Final Four" run that we've almost seen every year since this started comes from the Tuesday night game, but maybe the Wolverines or Golden Hurricane can do it. The winner of this one will face Notre Dame.