From 68 to 16: March Madness 2017 First Weekend Primer

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East Region

Pod #1 – Buffalo, New York

Colors Location Record RPI
#1 Villanova Wildcats Navy Blue, White Villanova, PA 31-3 1
#8 Wisconsin Badgers Cardinal, White Madison, WI 25-9 32
#9 Virginia Tech Hokies Maroon, Orange Blacksburg, VA 22-10 47
#16 Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers Blue, White Emmitsburg, MD 19-15 149
#16 New Orleans Privateers Royal Blue, Silver New Orleans, LA 20-11 151

#16 New Orleans vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s — Dayton, Ohio — Tuesday, 6:40 p.m., truTV

Line: New Orleans (-2.5)

FiveThirtyEight: Mount St. Mary’s (56%)

The tournament begins here, with the first of the First Four matchups in Dayton, a clash between the 67th and 68th ranked teams in the field for the right to face the top overall seed, Villanova.

The Mount lost 11 of their first 12 games, including six losses to tournament teams, but went 14-4 in conference to claim the top seed in the NEC tournament, which they won. The Privateers lost all three of their matchups with tournament teams and averaged 17 turnovers per game, but won their conference championship in overtime. This game is a true toss-up between two teams who have almost zero chance of beating Villanova anyway.

#1 Villanova vs. #16 Winner Of First Four Game — Thursday, 7:10 p.m., CBS

Line: None

FiveThirtyEight: Villanova (99%)

The Wildcats begin their run at a second straight title by taking on the winner of the New Orleans/Mount St. Mary’s matchup. Villanova lost only three games all season, one to Marquette and two to Butler. Josh Hart is an outstanding shooter who averaged 18.9 points per game and last year’s game-winning shot hitter Kris Jenkins is back as well. Nova will roll to the second round.

#8 Wisconsin vs. #9 Virginia Tech —Tuesday, 9:40 p.m., CBS

Line: Wisconsin (-4.5)

FiveThirtyEight: Wisconsin (79%)

This game is a complete clash of styles. Wisconsin’s plodding, defensive style earned them 25 wins and a trip to the Big Ten title game, but they only garnered an eight-seed from the committee. The Hokies shoot 49% from the floor as a team and are led by five players who average double-digit points. Nine of Virginia Tech’s final ten games were decided by single digits and they won six of them in a tough ACC.

Second Round Outlook

Villanova will be a deserving favorite no matter who they face on Saturday. Ultimately the experienced champions have the most quality out of anyone in this pod and will be a tough out on a two-day turnaround in Buffalo.