2017 NCAA Tournament Primer

Mark Few’s program is a lock to get to every NCAA Tournament, but he’s yet to take the Bulldogs to a Final Four in 19 straight Tourney appearances.

Published on Wednesday, 3/15/17, at 10:13 a.m. Eastern.
Updated on Wednesday, 3/15/17, at 6:47 p.m. Eastern.

–My annual Bracket Analysis column filed Sunday night to VegasInsider.com.

–My Games Galore pod, edition 2, recorded on Tuesday. My take on the NCAA Tournament is in the first and third segments. We talked UFC with Jason Floyd of The MMA Report in the middle/second segment. Floyd, who is based out of Tampa and also works for the Buccaneers, also gave us some Bucs’ offseason intel.

–Players capable of pulling a Danny Manning (circa ’88 Kansas) or Carmelo Anthony (circa ’03, Syracuse) and carrying their teams to a national title with their dominant play (mostly thinking players from 4/5 seeds or worse because they don’t have as much help as those stars on the more elite/higher-seeded squads): Iowa St.’s Monte Morris, Michigan’s Derrick Walton, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Oklahoma St.’s Jawun Evans.

–Speaking of Manning, his Wake Forest team went down 95-88 as a one-point underdog versus Kansas St. in the First Four last night in Dayton. The ‘over’ finished the year on a 16-2 run for the Demon Deacons, which was the type of tidbit/stat you would’ve heard (pregame) on y’day’s Games Galore pod.

–The ‘over’ has hit in nine consecutive games for Iowa St. and is 16-4 in its last 20 games. The Cyclones, who have won nine of their last 10 games while going 8-2 ATS, face Nevada on Thursday as six-point ‘chalk.’ The total is 155.5 points. Nevada has seen the ‘over’ cash in four straight and six of its last seven.

–Providence, a 2.5 or three-point underdog tonight vs. USC in Dayton, owns an incredible 12-4 spread record with seven outright wins as an underdog this year. The Friars have won six of their last seven games while going 11-3 ATS in their last 14 outings. On the flip side, USC has lost five of its last eight games both SU and ATS, and the wins were over terrible teams — Washington (twice) and Washington St.

–For more Providence-USC intel, check out my preview of tonight’s First Four games.

My NCAA Tournament package.

–Florida is making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance and its first under Mike White. The Gators, a No. 4 seed in the East, are favored by 10 or 10.5 over 13th-seeded East Tennessee St. If UF advances, it will play the Virginia-UNC-Wilmington winner Saturday in Orlando. Florida owns a 42-17 all-time record in the Tournament, winning two national titles, playing in three nat’l-title games, going to five Final Fours and eight Elite Eights. If the Gators make it to the Sweet 16, they’ll be at Madison Square Garden in New York City next week for a likely date with top-seeded Villanova (if form holds). Kasey Hill, UF’s starting senior point guard, is the team’s only player who has NCAA Tourney experience, playing in four games as a true freshman when the Gators went to the Final Four before losing to eventual champ, UConn.

–UF owns a 9-6 spread record in 15 games as a double-digit favorite this year.

–Best coaches who haven’t been to a Final Four yet: Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Arizona’s Sean Miller. Others of (lesser) note: Scott Drew and Dana Altman.

–I think Gonzaga will be the first No. 1 seed to get eliminated. With that said, Wisconsin certainly has the style, talent and Tourney experience to give Villanova fits in a Round-of-32 showdown (assuming the Badgers can get past Va. Tech).

–My Final Four: Iowa St., Duke, UNC and Arizona. UNC over Duke in the finals. Tiebreaker (168 pts).

Calling My Shots:
1-The Michigan-Oklahoma St. winner will beat Louisville.
2-Notre Dame is going to its third straight Elite Eight. Toughest game on the way? The Round-of-64 showdown vs. Princeton.
3-Arkansas will win its third NCAA Tournament game since Nolan Richardson was dismissed. Like the two previous NCAA wins without Nolan, the Hogs will lose their next game to North Carolina for a third time.
4-VCU and Oklahoma St. are the most dangerous double-digit seeds.
5-Notre Dame and Arizona will face each other in the West Region finals.

–Let’s see how these ‘Fresh Legs’ teams perform (ousted in first game of conference tournaments): Florida, Kansas, Maryland, South Carolina and Baylor.

–Marquette center Luke Fischer is ‘questionable’ vs. South Carolina due to a shoulder injury. Fischer is averaging 11.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.

–Minnesota senior guard Akeem Springs is ‘out’ for the rest of the season due to an Achilles injury. Springs was averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the Gophers.

–Biggest chafe/issue dealing with March Madness: CBS’s Seth Davis. My gosh, CBS, when will you end this? You have Jon Rothstein, who should get wayyyyyyyyyy more air time. Davis? He relentlessly annoys every listener and co-worker.

–Who ISN’T walking through that door in this Tournament? Mister Jennings for East Tennessee St., Tyler Coppenrath or T.J. Sorrentine of Vermont, Gregg Marshall to coach Winthrop like he did to a win over Notre Dame many moons ago, Dwyane Wade for Marquette, Sam Cassell for FSU, Mateen Cleaves for Sparty, Brett Blizzard for UNC-Wilmington or Barry Goheen for Vandy.

Goheen scored six points in five seconds to help Vandy force overtime against Pitt in a game the Commodores eventually won to advance to the Sweet 16 in 1988. Goheen also beat Louisville on a half-court shot at the buzzer and Georgia on another buzzer beater during his collegiate career.

–UT-Arlington, which plays at BYU tonight as a 6.5-point underdog in the first round of the NIT, will not have its second-leading scorer, Jalen Jones, who averages 12.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. The Mavericks won outright at Saint Mary’s by 14 during the regular season, while the Cougars were swept in three games by the Gaels. BYU’s Elijah Bryant is also ‘out’ with a knee injury. Bryant was averaging 11.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

–Cuonzo Martin has resigned as Cal’s head coach and is expected to be named the next head coach at Missouri, replacing Kim Anderson. It will be interesting to see if Cal has interest in Georgia’s Mark Fox, who reportedly turned down overtures from Cal before it hired Martin. Also, former Dayton and Ga. Tech coach Brian Gregory has been named the new head coach at USF.

–After 15 seasons at Washington, the school has fired Lorenzo Romar.

–If you missed it y’day, we checked in on Emily Ratajkowski.

–Please check back for more nuggets and links that’ll be added in the next 24 hours. 

–Today’s NCAA Primer is sponsored by……Lauren Compton!

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