It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.
5. Iowa State (23-10, 12-6/Big 12)– Few teams will enter the postseason with as much momentum as the Cyclones, who won 9 of 10 down the stretch and dominated West Virginia en route to a Big 12 tournament title.
We’ve seen this before from Iowa State, which also won the Big 12 title in 2015, and entered March Madness as a popular Final Four pick, only to lose to unheralded UAB in the first game of the tournament.
This year’s group is different, having lost one of the school’s greatest players in Georges Niang. But seniors Monte Morris (16.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 4.8 rpg) Deonte Burton (14.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Nazareth Mitrou-Long (15.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg) have carried this high-scoring squad all year long.
Morris and Burton are especially dangerous, and Burton proved he has a knack for coming up big in big games, going for 29 and 12 against Gonzaga and putting up 29 in a win over Kansas in Lawrence.
12. Nevada (28-6, 14-4/Mountain West)– This is a dangerous Nevada team. The Wolf Pack have a potential first-round NBA Draft pick in 6-8 sophomore Cam Oliver (15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg). And he’s not even the team’s leading scorer. That’d be 6-3 senior Marcus Marshall, who puts up 19.8 points per.
6-7 sophomore guard Jordan Caroline (14.8 ppg) is a solid three-point shooter and D.J. Fenner (14.1 ppg) can score as well.
Don’t turn off the TV set if Nevada falls behind late. In January, they pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in college basketball history, erasing a 71-48 second half deficit and a 90-76 deficit with 1:30 left to beat New Mexico, 105-104, in overtime.
PREDICTION: Iowa State has a ton of firepower, but we like Nevada to pull the upset here. The Wolf Pack were one of the most slept-on teams all season long, and they’ve got the kind of high-major talent that can win at least one game in the Dance.
We think they’ll oust Iowa State and Big Ten champ Purdue before falling to Kansas in the Sweet 16.