The NCAA men's basketball tournament officially tips off tonight with a couple of the first round or "First Four" games. The Stack is here with predictions on that, some fun facts about the tournament and thoughts on the women's basketball tournament that was announced last night so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, March 19:
Women's basketball tournament field announced
Though without as much flare and dramatics as with the men's tournament, the women's basketball NCAA tournament field was announced last night and as expected Baylor, led by Brittney Griner, is the top seed in the tournament. The other one seeds include Notre Dame, Stanford and UCONN. Unlike in the men's tournament, we're far more likely to see all four one seeds reach the Final Four. There will be a few upsets. There are some really good mid-major teams out there like Delaware (#6 seed) and Green Bay (#11 seed) that have a Sweet 16 run in them. But far more likely, we're going to see the higher seeds prevail, especially as the they get into the later rounds. So it should come as no surprise when all four one seeds are meeting in New Orleans. That's what I think is going to happen and just like last year, it will be Baylor cutting down the nets. Griner is too much to handle and Baylor wants to end Griner's career with back to back championships, because they might never recruit a player of Griner's caliber again. Baylor will win the women's basketball NCAA championship.
Some fun facts about the men's NCAA tournament
I'll admit it. I'm a little quirky. I like stats and some fun facts. So with the men's NCAA tournament coming up, I thought I'd look at interesting facts and notes regarding the field in this year's tournament. Five today and five tomorrow...
- There are 8 teams with a color in their names (Minnesota, Long Island, California, Syracuse, Marquette, Harvard, Duke and Creighton). Gold is the most popular with three teams have golden in their names (MN Golden Gophers, Cal Golden Bears and Marq Golden Eagles).
- Wildcat is the most popular team mascot with 4. Villanova, Davidson, Arizona and Kansas State are all Wildcats.
- There are as many Gaels in the tournament (St. Mary's and Iona) as there are Bulldogs (Butler and Gonzaga).
- Two teams with SDSU acronyms in the tournament (South Dakota State and San Diego State). Do not mix them up. While highly, highly unlikely, the two could meet in the Elite 8.
- Same number of teams with Rams as a mascot (Colorado State and VCU) as there are Aggies (North Carolina A&T and New Mexico State).
Five more tomorrow.
#16 North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. #16 Liberty Flames 6:40 PM ET (Dayton, Ohio) TruTV
The NCAA tournament kind of officially tips off tonight with the first of the "First Four" between NC A&T (MEAC) and Liberty (Big South). NC A&T is 19-16 and Liberty is 15-20. 15-20! Liberty is the worst team in the tournament with a win percentage .450 since Oakland made it out of the Summit in 2004-05 with a 12-18 record, a .400 win percentage. The reality is that whoever wins this game will lose to Louisville on Thursday. Toss up, but I think I'll go with the team that beat a lot of the top seeds in the conference tournament to pull off the unbelieveable automatic tournament bid.
#11 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders vs. #11 St. Mary's Gaels 9:10 PM ET TruTV
The second game of the double-header in Dayton features two at large teams, two of the final four teams to make the tournament. Middle Tennessee State was one of the mid-majors to watch out for before they got knocked out of their conference tournament. They were 19-1 in conference and have only lost five games all year. St. Mary's will feature the game's best player in point guard Matthew Dellavedova. This guy is very, very good and he will keep St. Mary's in the game. He makes the rest of his teammates better. But I think Middle Tennessee is the better team overall.
Pick: Middle Tennessee State
Before I go, congrats to the Miami Heat who won their 23rd straight last night with a 105-103 win over the Boston Celtics. Hard fought game. The Heat continue to streak. Don't see it ending in the next few games.
Coming up Wednesday: NCAA tournament fun facts, picks and more