From 68 to 16: March Madness 2017 First Weekend Primer

3 of 17

Pod #2 – Orlando, Florida

Colors Location Record RPI
#4 Florida Gators Blue, Orange Gainesville, FL 24-8 10
#5 Virginia Cavaliers Navy Blue, Orange Charlottesville, VA 22-10 18
#12 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks Teal, Gold, Navy Wilmington, NC 29-5 27
#13 East Tennessee St. Buccaneers Navy Blue, Gold Johnson City, TN 27-7 54

#4 Florida vs. #13 East Tennessee State —Thursday, 3:10 p.m., truTV

Line: Florida (-11.5)

FiveThirtyEight: Florida (87%)

The Buccaneers were the top seed in the SoCon and averaged 80 points per game. T.J. Cromer is a serious threat, averaging 19.1 points and shooting 40.4% from outside, but the Gators scored nearly as many points while regularly playing top-25 opponents. ETSU will likely need to win the turnover battle to have a chance; they force eight steals and pick up five blocks per game, but average 15 giveaways. The Gators would probably be a two-seed if Vanderbilt didn’t exist and also feature underhanded free throw shooting hero Canyon Barry, who leads his team by making 87.8% of his free throws.

#5 Virginia vs. #12 UNC-Wilmington — Tuesday, 12:40 p.m., truTV

Line: Virginia (-8)

FiveThirtyEight: Virginia (84%)

Virginia doesn’t score, but they don’t let you score either. UNC-Wilmington scores a lot, but they also concede a lot of points, ranking tenth in all of Division I with 85.2 points per game. The Cavaliers give up fewer points per possession than anyone else in the country, but the Seahawks concede fewer turnovers per possession than any team in the country. If they get hot—they’ve made 48.2% of their field goal attempts this season—the Seahawks could pull off the first round upset that escaped them last March against Duke.

Second Round Outlook

Virginia did not win back-to-back games against tournament teams all season, so a two-day turnaround against a good Florida team seems like a bad matchup. UNC-Wilmington might not be a bad double-digit seed Sweet 16 pick, but they would need to shoot extremely well, especially from outside.