NCAAB Tournament picks March 20: Will upsets make up the first round of March Madness?

The NCAAB Tournament tips off this week with the first four, first round, and second-round being played. As we noted in our previous NCAAB blog, the tournament is taking place entirely in Indiana, cutting down on the travel.

Despite March Madness being held in one place, it is set to be filled with excitement as always. With the tournament starting on Thursday with the first four, we are going to take a look at four games taking place on Saturday in the first round. Upsets could be on the menu for the day.

(5) Colorado vs. (12) Georgedown

Georgetown Hoyas are red-hot going into the NCAAB Tournament first round. Patrick Ewing’s team shocked the Big East by running the gauntlet to win the conference tournament. They defeated No. 9 seed Marquette, No. 1 seed Villanova, No. 4 Seton Hall, and No. 2 seed Creighton to win the tournament.

Colorado is favored to win this game, but this is a tricky No. 5 versus No. 12 seed game. Georgetown are hot while Colorado was dumped out of the PAC-12 tournament by No. 5 seed Oregon State.

Colorado ranks second in NCAAB in free throw percentage at 82.2%. More impressively, the Buffs average the second-fewest turnovers a  game in the PAC-12 with 11.2. Colorado allows just 63 points per game, the fewest in the PAC-12.

While Georgetown is hot and won four games in four days, things slow down now at the NCAAB Tournament. The Hoyas won’t have the moment going for them. The Hoyas were just 13-12 this season and four of those wins came in the Big East Tournament.

To Win: Colorado Buffaloes

NCAA Basketball Final Four Championship Game

(7) UCONN vs. (10) Maryland

UCONN had a disappointing Big East Tournament where they were beaten by Creighton in their second game of the competition. UCONN is the slight favorite to win against Maryland. The Huskies have two players to watch, Tyrese Martin and Isaiah Whaley. They are stellar in the paint and clean up the glass well.

Both teams received at-large bids but neither has had remarkable years. Maryland was 16-13 during the season and was knocked out of the Big 10 Tournament by Michigan in the second round of the competition.

Maryland is poor in possession and may attempt to keep this game low scoring. That suits UCONN more as the Huskies had the lowest ppg allowed in the Big East with 64.6.

To Win: UCONN Huskies

(4) Virginia vs. (13) Ohio

Virginia is technically the reigning NCAAB Tournament champions. Since there was no tournament last season, the Cavs didn’t get to defend their title. The Cavs started the season well but stumbled in February only to rebound. The team finished 19-6 and won the ACC tournament.

Ohio Bobcats won the MAC tournament to get an automatic bid. The team is well-balanced and all five Ohio starters average double-digit points. That said, they go up against a solid Virginia side that should win and move onto the second round.

To win: Virginia Cavaliers

(8) Oklahoma vs. (9) Missouri

Two so-so teams meet in this No. 8 versus No. 9 game. The winner shouldn’t be expected to go too far in the NCAAB Tournament. OU finished the season at 15-10 while Missouri was 16-9. While the Tigers’ record doesn’t look that great, they did finish below .500 in the two previous campaigns.

Missouri guards Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith, both average nearly 15 points per game and could lead the team to victory. Eight versus nine match-ups are tricky to pick and I’m going with Missouri to upset the higher-seeded Sooners.

To win: Missouri Tigers

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