March Madness Final Four Previews, April 4, 2015

I know, I know, it’s not even March anymore. How can it still be March Madness? Truth be told, aside from the very first day of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it hasn’t been very mad at all. There have been relatively few major upsets and this is reflected in today’s two games between the last four teams remaining. Of the four teams remaining, three are 1 seeds, which means the committee that selected teams for the tournament and ranked them before the tournament began accurately predicted three of the four best teams. The only surprise, 7 seed Michigan State, is only kind of a surprise. Although they weren’t predicted to do this well this year, their coach and program has an incredibly strong recent history of success. For some reason beyond my comprehension, these games — as exciting and high profile as they are

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Michigan State Spartans vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils, 6:09 p.m. ET on TBS.

This game is definitely the undercard or less anticipated game of the two. This is mostly because it doesn’t feature Kentucky, the team that virtually every narrative in this tournament is focused on. Putting narratives aside for a minute though, this is a very attractive basketball game. Duke has the most polished offensive big man in the game this year, a player named Jahlil Okafor who is likely to be the first overall draft pick in the NBA this coming year. Watch for him — he’s the enormous dude who wears number 15 – when he gets the ball near the basket. He’s surprisingly graceful for someone who is 6’10” and 270 lbs at age 19. One of the most effective motivations for a sports team to over-achieve seems to be the sense that the world did or does not believe they can succeed. Michigan State has gleefully taken up that mantle and, because they were given a relatively poor 7 seed for this tournament, it fits to a degree. Michigan’s coach, Tom Izzo, is well-known for being able to whip together some tactics that will work to counter-act whatever the opposing team does best. If Michigan State has a chance in this game, it’s because coach Izzo will be able to outsmart Duke’s coach. The problem with that is that Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, is the most well-respected coach in college basketball. Duke has the clear edge in this game but not by enough to make it worth skipping.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #1 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats, 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS.

All roads lead to Kentucky in this tournament. They are two wins (this game and the finals on Monday) away from completing the first undefeated season for a men’s college basketball team since 1976. (The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has had four undefeated seasons since then including a streak of 90 straight games which included two complete undefeated seasons and championships in 2008/9 and 2009/10.) The primary fascination for this tournament revolves around whether or not Kentucky will be able to complete the undefeated season and win the championship. To do that, they’ll need to beat a Wisconsin team that’s had it out for them since Kentucky eliminated them from March Madness last year. That’s right — these two teams played last year in the Final Four as well. In that game, Kentucky beat Wisconsin 74-73 on a last second three-point shot. By most accounts, these two teams are both better this year than they were last year, so this should be a heck of a game. I’m looking forward to it!

March Madness Previews, March 29, 2015

We’re down to these four teams fighting for two spots in next Saturday’s Final Four games. Last night, Kentucky and Wisconsin, two 1 seeds, won their games and qualified to play each other in the Final Four. Today we’ll see which two teams will play each other next Saturday for the right to play either Kentucky or Wisconsin in the championship game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Michigan State Spartans vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals, 2:20 p.m. ET on CBS.

Hey! This is our one chance — actually our one certainty — to get a team into the Final Four that wasn’t a 1 seed and therefore expected to make the Final Four. Usually, the team that unexpectedly makes it into the last four is the delight of the tournament but this is… a little different. It’s hard to think of either Michigan State or Louisville as a surprise underdog considering they’ve combined to make 11 Final Fours since 2000. That’s a sustained record of excellence unsurpassed by many programs. So, while it’s novel to see a 7 and a 4 seed play in the Elite Eight, it’s perfectly conventional to see these two teams.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #2 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils, 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS.

You can view this game as a battle of old vs. new, traditional vs. modern. Duke is the traditional team — they’ve been a basketball powerhouse in one of the toughest conferences in the country for well over thirty years now. They’re built a little like an old-school team. Their star player is a big man, Jahlil Okafor, who plays close to the basket. Gonzaga is the future of basketball. They’re a “mid-major” team which means they’re the best team in a conference that has not traditionally produced NCAA Champions. Their best player is Kyle Wiltjer, a 6’10” forward who uses his hight primarily to shoot over people from distance as opposed to banging bodies down low like Okafor. In this battle of past vs. future, we’ll see who owns the present.

March Madness Previews, March 28, 2015

And then there were eight; eight teams left in March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships. There haven’t been many surprises in this year’s tournament so far, which itself, I guess could be considered a surprise. If every favorite had won, all the way through the tournament, tonight’s games would only differ by a single team. By the rankings, one would expect #2 Kansas to be playing Kentucky instead of #3 Notre Dame. Not exactly an upset of mammoth proportions. The downside of not having any giant surprises is that there aren’t attractive underdogs to root for. The upside is that the games are likely to be extremely close contests — and the best play that college basketball can provide for our enjoyment. Here is a little background about each game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #2 Arizona Wildcats vs. #1 Wisconsin Badgers, 6:09 p.m. ET on TBS.

Many people believe that these are the two teams most equipped to truly have a chance at beating the still undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. To some extent then, it’s a shame that they play each other before meeting Kentucky. It means that only one will get a shot at the presumptive champs. On the other hand, the winner of this game will play the winner of the next game, and assuming that is Kentucky, at least it means that one of them are guaranteed to play Kentucky. This game itself could be one of the best in the tournament. Both teams are game tested, having survived close games in the previous round, and both have deep casts of excellent basketball players.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats, 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS.

We’re all assuming Kentucky will win this game. After doubling their opponent in the last round (poor West Virginia lost 78-39!) Kentucky looks completely unbeatable. That said, the only thing they aren’t that good at (shooting three-point shots), Notre Dame is devilishly competent in. If Notre Dame gets off to the kind of fast start that they have in other games this year, when every shot they take seems to be just falling into the basket, then we could be in for a tight game.

March Madness Previews, March 27, 2015

Tonight is the second night of the Sweet Sixteen. The Sweet Sixteen is where the NCAA Tournament transitions from strictly numbered rounds (“the round of 64/32” or “the first/second/third round”) to rounds with catchy nicknames. The Sweet Sixteen reduces the field from 16 teams to 8, the Elite Eight winnows it down from eight to four, those four are referred to as the Final Four, and the two teams that win those games go on to play each other in the Championship game. The four games on tonight represent half of the Sweet Sixteen. Let’s run through these games and see what they mean.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #11 UCLA Bruins vs. #2 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

With two 1 seeds, a 2 seed, and a 3 seed advancing in yesterday’s games, the 11th seeded UCLA Bruins seem like they’d be the tournament’s last hope for the type of unlikely Cinderella story that everyone loves. The problem is, as I’ve written before, that UCLA is an overdog disguised as an underdog. UCLA men’s basketball has had too much success to ever really engender the kind of “it could be anyone” love that lower seeded teams sometimes do during March Madness. Gonzaga, on the other hand, is what happens when Cinderella wins and wins and wins until she’s not really an underdog anymore either.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals, 7:37 p.m. ET on TBS.

Although ranked higher than UCLA, North Carolina State has more underdog cred. They’re certainly an afterthought in their own state, behind giants North Carolina and Duke. After beating number one seed, Villanova, last week, they’ll be ready to take on the confrontational but not insanely talented Louisville team.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 Utah Runnin’ Utes vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils, 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

One of the ways I suggested filling out your March Madness bracket before the tournament started was by looking at other people’s rankings, often done with the collaboration (or at least assistance) of a computer. Most of these rankings absolutely loved the Utah team — enough so that CBS wrote of this game that the rankings suggest it will be a very even game. That said, it will still feel like a triumphant upset if Utah can beat Duke. Duke is not as deep in talented players as Kentucky but they’re best five players are the closest thing out there to Kentucky’s.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Michigan State Spartans vs. #3 Oklahoma Sooners, 10:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

Michigan State has gotten at least this far in the NCAA Tournament is six of the last seven years. They’re institutionally good! Vegas actually has Michigan State as a very slight favorite (less than two points) to beak Oklahoma. This game and the Utah Duke game seem like the best of the bunch tonight, so if you need to approach the evening strategically (either to carve out time for basketball or from basketball) there’s a strong case to be made to do something else early on in the night and switch your attention to basketball starting around 9:45. Good luck!

March Madness Previews, March 26, 2015

Tonight is the first night of the Sweet Sixteen. The Sweet Sixteen is where the NCAA Tournament transitions from strictly numbered rounds (“the round of 64/32” or “the first/second/third round”) to rounds with catchy nicknames. The Sweet Sixteen reduces the field from 16 teams to 8, the Elite Eight winnows it down from eight to four, those four are referred to as the Final Four, and the two teams that win those games go on to play each other in the Championship game. The four games on tonight represent half of the Sweet Sixteen. The other four games will be tomorrow. For now, let’s run through these games and see what they mean.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Wichita State Shockers vs. #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

When a 7 seed beats a 2 seed, like Wichita State did to Kansas in the last round, the standard narrative would be to view them as a surprise, Cindarella-like team. It’s hard to view Wichita State that way though because of their recent history of success. Two years ago they went to the Final Four and last year they were a 1 seed that lost only to the eventual runners-up, Kentucky. Wichita State is not an underdog but they’re also not unworthy of support. As a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, they still represent college basketball’s sympathetic second tier in a way that Notre Dame never could. Unless you’re a Notre Dame fan, I suggest throwing your support behind the Shockers.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #4 North Carolina Tarheels vs. #1 Wisconsin Badgers, 7:47 p.m. ET on TBS.

Wisconsin became my (and lots of other people’s) favorite team in the tournament this year when the team’s fascination with short-hand became public last week. That’s right, after their win last weekend, what seems like a majority of their press conference was focused on the team’s interest in the stenographer who was transcribing it. Nigel Hayes, a 6’8″ power forward, even sprinkled his answers with complicated and unexpected vocabulary words just to make things more interesting for her:

That’s enough for me — I’m now rooting for the Badgers to make it all the way to the Championship game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats, 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

Everything in the tournament, even the stenography obsession, is just a side-show to the ongoing saga of the Kentucky Wildcats. They’re undefeated and looking to become the first team to go through the entire season and win the championship without losing a game since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. There are only a few teams out there who are talented enough to challenge the Wildcats. The West Virginia Mountaineers are not one of those teams but they may be crazy enough to think they are and tough enough to have a shot despite their difference in talent.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #2 Arizona Wildcats, 10:17 p.m. ET on TBS.

Arizona is one of the few teams with talent enough to match up against Kentucky. That should give them more than enough class to get past the Xavier Musketeers tonight. The best character on either of the teams is a senior center on Xavier named Matt Stainbrook who gave up his scholarship to his little brother, Tim, who is also on the team. The elder Stainbrook has been making some extra cash in his free time as the world’s largest (I’m guessing) Uber driver.

Sports Forecast for Sunday, March 21, 2015 – March Madness Edition

We’re interrupting our normal daily sports forecasts to concentrate on March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and American cultural obsession. We’ll run you through the games each day and give you a little flavor for each one.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Michigan State Spartans vs. #2 Virginia Cavaliers, 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS.

The first game of the day could easily be the best game of the weekend. The Cavaliers make it hard for teams they play against by playing strong, physical, smothering defense and slow but effective offense. Michigan State is a chameleon of a team that may not mind playing Virginia’s type of game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #8 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils, 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS.

With Villanova losing last night, we’re down to three 1 seeds left in the tournament. Most of America will be rooting for San Diego State to reduce that number by another but I doubt they’ll be able to beat Duke to do it.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Wichita Shockers vs. #2 Kansas Jayhawks, 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

This battle of Kansas has been highly anticipated from the moment the bracket was released. These two teams, despite being neighbors, have not actually played a game against each other since 1993. Kansas is the traditional basketball power in the state but Vegas has this game as almost a dead even matchup.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #11 Dayton Flyers vs. #3 Oklahoma Sooners, 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT.

With UAB and Georgia State losing yesterday, Dayton became one of the few remaining teams that could seriously be called underdogs. Oklahoma had a reasonably easy first game against Albany while Dayton has had to play two tough, close games. Watch for Dayton to show its fatigue in down moments of this game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #7 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. #2 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS.

Both these teams had an unexpectedly easy time in their first round matchups. Because they won so easily, it feels like we don’t know what to expect in this game.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #8 Oregon Ducks vs. #1 Wisconsin Badgers, 7:45 p.m. ET on TRU.

These schools have totally oppositional characters when it comes to sports teams. Oregon is futuristic and sleek, Wisconsin, traditional and a little stodgy. Their characters are not always directly exhibited in how they play, more in how we observe them. This Wisconsin basketball team has a little more playfulness in their games than one would expect of a Wisconsin team.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #4 Maryland Terrapins, 8:40 p.m. ET on TNT.

These well-matched teams will be competing for the opportunity to play against still-unbeaten Kentucky in the next round. Of the two teams, it seems like Maryland would have a better shot at upsetting Kentucky, so let’s root for them.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 University of Northern Iowa Panthers vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals, 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS.

Louisville broke my heart when they beat the UC Irvine Anteaters in a close game on Friday. Just for that, I’m hoping that the University of Northern Iowa and their star player Seth Tuttle make short work of the Cardinals today.

Sports Forecast for Saturday, March 20, 2015 – March Madness Edition

We’re interrupting our normal daily sports forecasts to concentrate on March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and American cultural obsession. We’ll run you through the games each day and give you a little flavor for each one.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #14 UAB Blazers vs. #11 UCLA Bruins, 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS.

This is a real glass-half-full, glass-half-empty game. On one hand, it’s impossible for both of these teams who provided us with exciting upsets in their first games to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. On the other hand, one of them surely will. Although their seeds are not so different, their history as basketball schools could not be more different. UAB is a true underdog. UCLA is an overdog fallen on hard times masquerading as an underdog. Because of that, I’ll be rooting for UAB.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #8 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats, 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS.

“What happens when a bearcat meets a wildcat” sounds like the start of a joke my friends and I would have told in middle school. What’s likely to happen here is that the Wildcats will win but one thing is for sure, they’re not going to escape a game with Cincinnati without a few bumps and bruises.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #10 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #2 Arizona Wildcats, 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

Ohio State needed overtime to get by VCU. Arizona waltzed by Texas Southern. Still, if Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell has enough in his tank after playing 44 minutes on Thursday, I could see Arizona having a tough time winning this game. Russell was one of the most impressive players I’ve seen so far in the tournament.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #14 Georgia State Panthers vs. #6 Xavier Musketeers, 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT.

Georgia State is the underdog everyone loves to love this year. Their star player is the coach’s son. Their coach tore his achilles celebrating with the team and seems determined to break something else as he continues to celebrate. Xavier should win this game but the entire world will be pulling for Georgia State.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #1 Villanova Wildcats, 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS.

Villanova was thought to be the weakest of the four 1 seeds coming into the tournament. The fact that this game is on TBS shows a continued lack of respect. The fun thing about sports is that we’ll get a clear signal from the outcome of the game about whether the disrespect was merited.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 Utah Utes vs. #4 Georgetown Hoyas, 7:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

Georgetown fans were breathing a sigh of relief after their team won its first game in the tournament. In recent years, the Hoyas have been prone to being upset by lower seeded teams early in the tournament. Losing this game wouldn’t be an upset. Utah and Georgetown are a pretty even matchup. Perhaps the most even of the day.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #5 Arkansas Razerbacks vs. #4 North Carolina Tarheels, 8:40 p.m. ET on TNT.

Both these teams just barely escaped being upset in the first round, North Carolina to Harvard and Arkansas to Woffard. Neither one looked very impressive but one of them will be moving on. I wonder if we’ll be more impressed with the teams in this game or equally nonplussed.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #6 Butler Bulldogs vs. #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS.

It seems like ages ago that Notre Dame opened the tournament with a close win over Northeastern. In real-time it was only Thursday afternoon. Butler beat a disjointed Texas team but one of their best players went down with a knee injury. They’ll need him playing at least at three-quarters strength in order to challenge Notre Dame.

Which March Madness region was most mad in the first round?

Yesterday, I introduced a new metric to the world of college sports, the Madness Metric. By subtracting the expected sum of the two seeds in each round, assuming only favorites win, from the sum of the seeds of the teams that are actually playing, we can get a fairly good sense of just how mad March Madness has really been. Now that the first round (the round of 64, which is officially called the second round but which everyone reasonable calls the first round) is done, I thought it would  be a good idea to check in on our new metric and calculate it for the first time. We’ll do it by region or quarter of the overall field. Each region has teams ranked or seeded from 1-16. In the first round, 1 plays 16, 2 plays 15, and so on. In the second round, starting today, if all the favorites had won, 1 would play 8, 2 would play 7, 3 would play 6, and 4 would play 5. As you know from watching the last couple days of basketball, that’s not exactly how it worked out. The Madness Metric will tell us just how far off we are:

East (+5): Thanks to 11 seed Dayton beating 6 seed Providence. Many people feel like this wasn’t exactly fair because Dayton played their first game, the play-in game in their home stadium, and then this game nearby. Every other favorite in this region won their games.

Midwest (0): Not mad at all! All the favorites won.

West (+11): 10 seed Ohio State University beat 7 seeded VCU, but most of the +11 is due to the darlings of the tournament so far, 14 seed Georgia State which beat 3 seed Baylor, sending themselves to the round of 32 and their coach to the floor.

South (+16): This is the craziest of the regions and all its lunacy will be concentrated into one round of 32 game between 11 seed UCLA and 14 seed UAB. One of these Cinderella teams will be going to the sweet sixteen at least.

Total (+32): This is the first time I’ve ever calculated this metric, so I’m not sure about its history, but this doesn’t seem as crazy overall as one would have expected given that the first day was said to have been the craziest day ever. I’d have to do some historical analysis to figure this out.

As the tournament goes on, I’ll keep you posted about just how crazy it is. Thanks for reading.


March Madness mathematical musings

It’s March Madness time again, which means everyone is wandering around looking at print-outs or electronic versions of a bracket. The bracket shows a tournament with 64 teams divided into four groups of 16 each. Within each group of 16, the teams are ranked or seeded from 1 to 16. In the first round of the tournament, represented on the outside of the bracket, 1 plays 16, 2 plays 15, 3 plays 14, and so on until you reach the 8 vs. 9 game. Many of these pairs of numbers are instantly recognizable to most sports fans. We all know that a 16 has never beaten a 1, that 12 seeds seem to upset 5 seeds more frequently than one would expect, and that once you get to an 8 vs. 9 or a 7 vs. 10 game, the teams are so evenly matched that you can’t call it an upset when the 9 or 10 seed wins. It occurred to me yesterday (this is a pretty obvious realization, but cut me some slack, I did have a fever) that if you add the two seed numbers, every matchup in the first round adds up to 17.

Cool! Now I know lots of ways to add to 17. I wasn’t sure how this was going to help me in life but I kept thinking. 17… 17 is one more than 16. 16 is the number of teams in each quarter of the tournament. So, the seed numbers add up to one more than the number of teams left in each quarter of the bracket. Does that work for later rounds too? Well, let’s assume there are no upsets in the first round. Seeds 1-8 advance, seeds 9-16 lose. 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6, and 4 plays 5 in the next round. All of those numbers add up to nine, which is one more than eight. Eight is the number of teams left in that side of the bracket! If you keep going with this logic, again with no upsets, it keeps working for a while. The next round would have 1 playing 4 and 2 playing 3. 1 beats 4, 2 beats 3, and then 1 and 2 play for the right to represent this quarter of the overall tournament in the… Final Four! That’s when the four groups of 16 teams merge and become a single tournament. This is where the logic breaks down, because you would expect all four 1 seeds to make it, so that round’s sum would be two even though there are four teams left and the same would be true for the final game when there are only two teams left.

I might have lost you there for a minute (or maybe forever) but I’m about to bring it back to reality a little. We know that the favorites don’t always win during March Madness. Yesterday it seemed like the favorites were barely going to win at all! Already we’ve had 14 seeds beat 3 seeds, 11 beating 6, and 9 beating 8. This means that things won’t work so nicely in the second round. For example, instead of 3 seed Iowa State playing 6 seed SMU (adds up to 9) in the next round, we’re going to have 14 seed UAB playing 11 seed UCLA. 14 plus 11 is 25 not 9. The sum trick only works if the favorites always win.

Once I realized this, I was disappointed for a few minutes. Being disappointed because upsets ruin my little math trick is silly, of course. Upsets are what make March Madness so great. They’re what puts the Madness in March Madness. Then I had a (minuscule) Eureka moment. We can quantify exactly how “mad” each quarter of the bracket is by adding up the seed numbers of the teams that advance and subtracting the number we would have gotten if all the favorites had won. Call it the Madness Metric™. Using that same example of UAB and UCLA advancing instead of Iowa State and SMU, you would take their seeds, 14 and 11, add them to get 25 and then subtract 9 (the expected seed sum for the next round of the tournament) to get 14. 14 is pretty mad!

It’s not an advanced metric by any means, but it is a fun way to compare the regions (each quarter of the tournament is called a region because it’s played in one spot, not because the teams are from one place) to see which one is the maddest of them all! I’ll report back at the end of each round on this metric.

Sports Forecast for Friday, March 20, 2015 – March Madness Edition

We’re interrupting our normal daily sports forecasts to concentrate on March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and American cultural obsession. We’ll run you through the games each day and give you a little flavor for each one.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #15 New Mexico State Aggies vs. #2 Kansas Jayhawks, 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

After yesterday’s historic insanity, it’s probably too much to hope for for this game to be close. Then again, if there was going to be a 2 seed that gets a real scare in the first round, it would be Kansas. Most of the computer rankings say that Kansas should be flattered to have even gotten ranked so highly by the tournament’s seeds.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #10 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #7 Michigan State Spartans, 12:40 p.m. ET on TRU.

If you wanted an exhibit to show that coaching does matter in sports, particularly college basketball, you couldn’t find a better one than Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo. Despite not having the best players most years, his teams always seem to win at least a game or two in March Madness. They are favored over a solid but unspectacular Georgia team.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #12 Wyoming Cowboys vs. #5 Northern Iowa, 1:40 p.m. ET on TBS.

With all of yesterday’s upsets, the two 5 seeds actually managed to beat the 12 seeds they faced. The 12 over 5 upset is the one that armchair pundits (and we’re all armchair pundits, aren’t we?) everywhere look for. It just seems like at least one 12 seed always beats a 5. 538 ran an interesting article on why this might actually be true. Will Wyoming pull it off?

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #12 Buffalo Bulls vs. #5 West Virginia Mountaineers, 2:10 p.m. ET on TNT.

Or, maybe it’s Buffalo’s turn? Normally at this time of the year we’d see stories about how the snow struck city of Buffalo could really use something to cheer them up but this year, compared to Boston, living in Buffalo was like having a time-share in Palm beach. It’s hard to root against West Virginia and their pressing defense.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #10 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #7 Wichita State Shockers, 2:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

This is one of the few NCAA Tournament games that feels like a preview to coming attractions. If Wichita State can get by the Indiana Hoosiers, it will (probably) set up a matchup with in-state rival Kansas on Sunday. Everyone outside of Indiana is rooting for this to happen but I wonder if Wichita’s players will be guilty of looking ahead and get caught for it here.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #15 Belmont Bruins vs. #2 Virginia Cavaliers, 3:10 p.m. ET on TRU.

It seems funny to stick a 2 seed on TRU TV but Virginia is no normal 2 seed. They play a slow, grind-it-out, defensive game. I guess the TV schedulers might have felt that their play was too slow for most viewers. I have to say, I’m curious to see it. The slower you play, the fewer possessions the game has, and the fewer possessions the game has, the higher the chance for luck to play a role in the outcome. Maybe Belmont can get a few bounces and keep this close or even win?!

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #13 UC Irvine Anteaters vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals, 4:10 p.m. ET on TBS.

THE ANTEATERS ARE GOING TO WIN, THE ANTEATERS ARE GOING TO WIN! Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia page on anteaters: “When a territorial dispute occurs, they vocalize, swat, and can sometimes sit on or even ride the back of their opponents.” THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO!

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #13 Valparaiso Crusaders vs. #4 Maryland Terrapins, 4:40 p.m. ET on TNT.

Take some time before this game to read Jeremy Pahl’s wonderful article about growing up in Valparaiso and what basketball meant to him, his father, and the whole city. You’ll be pulling for the Crusaders afterwards.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #8 Oregon Ducks, 6:50 p.m. ET on TBS.

Oklahoma State lost six of its last seven games before today. It’s hard to imagine that they’ll just be able to snap out of it and win this game but stranger things have happened. Actually, about ten stranger things happened yesterday. Hmm…

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #16 Robert Morris Dentists vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils, 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS.

What an amazing matchup! Dentists vs. Devils — hard to say which one is worse. Just kidding, the Robert Morris team is actually called the Colonials, not the Dentists, but how great would that be? Duke is the team that most of the country loves to hate and, knowing that a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, my guess is that we’ll all get to hate Duke for a little while longer.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #10 Davidson Wildcats vs. #7 Iowa Hawkeyes, 7:20 p.m. ET on TNT.

The funny thing about this game is that despite making the tournament, both these teams are afterthoughts in their own states. Iowa is not thought to be as good as Iowa State or Northern Iowa and Davidson, located in North Carolina, is nowhere near as good as North Carolina or Duke. It kind of makes me want them both to win, although that is obviously impossible.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #14 Albany Great Danes vs. #3 Oklahoma Sooners, 7:27 p.m. ET on TRU.

In case you’re wondering what a “Sooner” is, it’s a historical reference. A sooner was someone who jumped the gun and entered Oklahoma to claim what once was Native American land for themselves just before President Grover Cleveland legalized the land-rush in 1889. Perhaps not quite as bad as the Ole Miss Rebels historical nickname, it’s still pretty despicable. I guess we should all root for the dogs that look like horses team?

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers vs. #1 Wisconsin Badgers, 9:20 p.m. ET on TBS.

Wisconsin is famous for choking in the NCAA Tournament and losing when they’re expected to win. If they do it tonight, they’ll be famous for it forever and ever.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #9 St. John’s Red Storm vs. #8 San Diego State Aztecs, 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS.

Alas, St. John’s big man, Chris Obepka, who made a name for himself this year for wearing short(er) shorts, is suspended for the tournament, so we won’t be graced by his leggy presence. Having seen St. John’s play in person just a week ago, I suspect we may not be graced by any of their presences for long. They didn’t seem like a very good basketball team to me.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – #15 North Dakota State Bison vs. #4 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 9:57 p.m. ET on TRU.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you make it through to this game. That’s a lot of basketball in two days! Rest up, ’cause there’s more on Saturday and Sunday!