The “first four” will be played this Tuesday and Wednesday with the winners advancing to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament starting Thursday afternoon.
Wake Forest vs. Kansas State
Kansas State heads into the tournament playing the best it has all season, winning three games in a row including a win over Baylor before losing to West Virginia in the Big 12 semi finals. Coach Bruce Weber’s team is balanced with four players averaging over 11 points per game. Wake Forest has star Big Man John Collins who has been a dominant inside force throughout his sophomore season. The are not a team that looks to run as they prefer a slower pace. Will be interesting to see which team can control the tempo of the game. Wake Forest who has a big edge on the inside will prove too much for Kansas State.
Mount Saint Mary’s vs. New Orleans
The winner of the matchup will get the privilege of playing defending National champion Villanova on Thursday. Mount Saint Mary’s played a tough non conference schedule to start the season playing 9 of their first 11 games on the road vs. multiple ranked teams en route to a 1-11 start. They rebounded to finish the season at 19-15. They are the outsized and get killed on the boards on a nightly basis. Their biggest strength headed into the tournament is that they have nothing to lose and excel at shooting the ball from the perimeter. New Orleans is the champion of The Southland Conference and are lead by star forward Erik Thomas who wont overpower Saint Mary’s with size but will be a tough matchup for them. New Orleans is a high turnover team and will need to minimize those if they intend on playing in the field of 64 on Thursday.
North Carolina Central vs. U.C Davis
North Carolina Central features the MEAC player of the year, Patrick Cole who features an impressive stat line of 19.5 ppg, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. He combines with Dajuan Graf
To form an impressive backcourt on a guard driven team. UC Davis is a n undersized unit that plays well together and makes up for their lack of size with positional defense and a Ball control offense. They are a poor shooting team and that tends to be a problem come tournament time.
USC vs. Providence
USC is in the dance for the second year in a row. They will need to get through this Play in game in order to play again on Friday in the first round. USC is a well balanced team capable of beating you inside or outside. They have had an up and down season and have questions defensively as evidenced by their last 3 regular season opponents scoring over 80 points. Providence won their last 6 regular season games and they also feature a well balanced roster that may lack star power but features players that fit in well together. They play at a slow pace which is not usually a good formula come playoff time.
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