Today the 2015 NCAA Tournament will begin and college basketball fans from east to west will nestle into their comfortable recliners or arena seats to watch teams battle out for a chance to advance. In the most generic fashion possible, I’m going to give a quick rundown on all six of the ACC first round matchups and then throw in a few thoughts of my own which carry little weight if any…….
MIDWEST REGION Notre Dame (3) vs Northeastern (14)
I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about Northeastern. In fact, the ONLY thing I know about Northeastern is that it’s campus is in Boston and the late Reggie Lewis balled there. What I do know, however, is that the Irish are coming off their first ever ACC Tournament title and are playing as well as anyone in the country right now, aside from Kentucky. I see no reason that Notre Dame won’t continue their winning ways and advance into the 2nd round rather easily. Look for Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton to “get his” but look for Jerian Grant and his crew of Connaughton and Jackson to “get more” My pick: Notre Dame ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ WEST REGION North Carolina (4) vs Harvard (13)
If Harvard is as smart as I think their players probably are then they will slow this one down to a turtle pace and hope for the best. North Carolina has all the tools to make a run in this tournament and if Marcus Paige gets going then anything can happen in favor of the ‘Heels. Wesley Saunders is a fine player for Harvard, so look for him. But, the interior play of Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks & Co. will be too much for the John Harvards (yes, that is their actual mascot name). My pick: North Carolina ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ EAST REGION NC State (8) vs LSU (9)
Wow, this game as much as any other in the field of 64 has given me fits as to who I should pick. In fact, I have almost convinced myself that the Wolfpack will prevail due, if nothing else, to my disdain for the SEC Conference. With that said, I do like LSU’s talent, especially Jarell Martin. But, after watching their meltdown in the SEC Tournament that resulted in a loss to lowly Auburn I am inclined to go with NC State here. Another factor is that Jordan Mickey is hampered by a nagging shoulder injury that will likely affect his pay. On the other side, I am a big fan of Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey / Ralston Turner are a terrific duo in terms of scoring. Granted, I’m not sure Mark Gottfried can coach his way out of a paper sack…..but neither can LSU’s Johnny Jones. My pick: NC State (in a close one) Virginia (2) vs Belmont (15)
Virginia has been one of the top tier teams in the country all year. And despite a one point loss at Louisville and an early exit from the ACC Tournament, I still believe they could make a run at the Final Four. But before doing that, I am confident that the Cavaliers will handle their business w/out much of a challenge. And even if UVA were the underdog here I would still probably pencil them in due to me still being a little miffed that Belmont bounced Murray State in the OVC title game, thus ending their NCAA Tournament hopes. My pick: Virginia Louisville (4) vs University of Cal-Irvine (13)
Aside from NC State, I believe Louisville (my alma mater) is the most susceptible to a first round loss. With that said, this same Louisville team could very well shock people and make a run. The season for UofL has been a Jeckyl and Hyde movie. But if the Cards’ big 3 in Harrell, Rozier & Blackshear show up and play up to their potential then UofL should advance into the second round. I know very little about the Anteaters other than the fact that they have a 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye and that alone should be worth the price of admission. In the end, Rick Pitino is too good preparing his teams in March and that will hold true again on Friday afternoon (I hope) My pick: Louisville ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ SOUTH REGION Duke (1) vs Robert Morris (16)
The Blue Devils won’t even need to perform a single floor slap on Friday to take care of their first round opponent. No offense at all to Robert Morris, but I just don’t see enough talent on their roster to control the likes of Jahlil Okafor. This one could be decided before halftime and should allow viewers to click away and catch other games going on. My pick: Duke So, there you have my first round picks. And in hindsight I am certain I have cursed the ACC by picking them to go 6-0 which based on odds alone is not likely to happen – but that’s why they play the games right? Enjoy the games everyone, drink responsibly…..cheer like an idiot.