2018 NCAA Tournament: Wednesday First Four Predictions
The 2018 NCAA tournament is here! While most don’t pay attention to the First Four, these points still count in nearly every round by round bracket. You can get all of the round by round picks here, along with my picks for every region in the coming days. Let’s get this started!
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As usual, the First Four takes place in Dayton every year. We have four 16 seeds and four 11 seeds this season. Those 11 seed games are going to be some good ones!
We will take a look at who got here, how they got here, and what their tournament history is. That way we can give you all of the little tidbits to try and make the best pick you can.
Texas Southern(15-19) vs. North Carolina Central(19-15):
Tournament record: 0-7
Tournament appearance: 8th
Last appearance: 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Record vs. tournament teams: 0-6
Well, you can’t say that the Tigers didn’t try. Their list of losses is a who’s who of tournament bids. Texas Southern lost to Gonzaga, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas, Clemson, TCU, and a team that should have made the tournament in Baylor. The only one of those games that they stayed in was Clemson, but playing those types of teams has to be good.
7’2″ Trayvon Reed is going to be a handful for the undersized Eagles. Reed isn’t an accomplished scorer, but the Tigers have that covered with Donte Clark and Demontrae Jefferson. If these names sound familiar, they should. This team hung with North Carolina for 20 minutes last year in the first round.
North Carolina Central:
Tournament record: 0-2
Tournament appearance: 3rd
Last appearance: 2017
Location: Durham, NC
Record vs. tournament teams: 0-1
An unlikely run through the MEAC got the Eagles to the second straight dance. The Eagles lost to UC Davis in the first four last year, and their chances of getting a win this year don’t look any better. When bracket guru Joe Lunardi picks you as the team least likely to win, things are not looking good. When all else fails, trust Joe.
My pick: Texas Southern
Syracuse(20-13) vs. Arizona State(20-11):
Tournament record: 65-38
Tournament appearance: 39th
Last appearance: 2016
Location: Syracuse, NY
Record vs. tournament teams: 5-9
The last time the Orange went dancing, they made it to the Final Four. I doubt that happens this time. Syracuse was kind of a curious pick, and maybe made it in mostly on merit. Oklahoma State and Baylor both looked as if not more deserving. That said, the Orange are a good team, and this zone causes fits for teams that aren’t used to seeing good ones.
Tournament record: 13-15
Tournament appearance: 15th
Last appearance: 2014
Mascot: Sun Devils
Location: Tempe, AZ
Record vs. tournament teams: 5-2
The Sun Devils may have needed to sneak in after a rough conference season, but Arizona State had huge wins early in the season that allowed them to survive a loss to Colorado in the Pac 12 tournament. In fact, the Sun Devils took down two number one seeds! They beat Xavier and Kansas by 10 in Allen Fieldhouse. That is proof that they can play with anyone.
Tra Holder is the heart of this team, but Arizona State is only going to be as strong as their weakest passer. The play of Romello White, Remy Martin, and De’Quon Lake are going to decide this against the Syrcause zone.
There is also some concern since Arizona State has lost six of their last ten games. Only one of those was to a tournament team. Syracuse is playing better right now, but I think the Sun Devils coach could be a wild card here. He is a man that knows a little something about NCAA tournament runs. His name is Bobby Hurley. Perhaps you have heard of him.
My pick: Arizona State
Stay tuned for the rest of the NCAA tournament picks! We are in for a fun week!