From 68 to 16: March Madness 2017 First Weekend Primer

4 of 17

Pod #3 – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Colors Location Record RPI
#3 Baylor Bears Green, Gold Waco, TX 25-7 11
#6 Southern Methodist Mustangs Blue, Red Dallas, TX 30-4 15
#11 Providence Friars Black, White, Silver Providence, RI 20-12 56
#11 Southern California Trojans Cardinal, Gold Los Angeles, CA 24-9 41
#14 New Mexico State Aggies Crimson, White Las Cruces, NM 28-5 60

#11 Providence vs. #11 USC —Dayton, Ohio — Wednesday, 9:10 p.m., truTV

Line: Even

FiveThirtyEight: Providence (58%)

This is probably the most intriguing matchup of the First Four, featuring two programs with tournament experience. Southern California’s won all 12 of their non-conference games, including a matchup with potential second-round opponent SMU, but went 10-8 in conference with just one win over a ranked opponent all season. The Friars are in their fourth straight tournament after a six-game win streak down the stretch earned them an at-large bid.

#6 Southern Methodist vs. #12 Winner Of First Four Game — Friday, 3:10 p.m., truTV

Line: None

FiveThirtyEight: SMU (79%)

The Mustangs rank 15th in FiveThirtyEight’s power rating and 11th in KenPom. Somehow, despite winning 30 games as well as the AAC regular season and tournament titles, SMU was only awarded a six seed. The Mustangs have lost one game since December (to Cincinnati) and Semi Ojeleye scores 19 points a game. They’re a clear favorite no matter who their first round opponent is.

#3 Baylor vs. #14 New Mexico State — Friday, 12:40 p.m., truTV

Line: Baylor (-13)

FiveThirtyEight: Baylor (90%)

After starting the season 15-0, Baylor ended it 8-7 and lost in their first game in the Big 12 tournament. However, Johnathan Motley averages nearly a double-double )17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds) and Baylor can still score (73 points per game, 47.1% field goal percentage). New Mexico State is a strong interior team, shooting only 33.7% from beyond the arc but averaging 40 rebounds per game.

Second Round Outlook

SMU/Baylor seems like the most probable matchup for the second round, although if there is going to be a team from the First Four that makes a run, it’s likely from this pod as both USC and Providence have the potential to beat good teams. A strong SMU team would likely give Baylor a fight in a second round clash.