It’s Christmas Day for sports fans– the start to the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Below, we’ll look at Thursday’s matchups, where and how you can watch them, and our predictions.
The First Four play-in games wrapped up March 16, with the Round of 64 tipping off March 17. The Final Four will be held in New Orleans on April 2 and the tournament will come to a close on April 4.
Round of 64 Schedule: Thursday, March 17
The following times are listed in Central (CT).
(6) Colorado State vs. (11) Michigan- 11:15 a.m., CBS
Colorado State (25-5) was one of the last remaining unbeaten teams earlier this season and presents a real challenge to Michigan (17-14) in Indianapolis. There was logistical issues getting the Rams to town, with the NCAA finally revealing their flight on Monday.
The pick: Michigan
(4) Providence vs. (13) South Dakota State- 11:40 a.m., truTV
This is a favorite spot for an upset among college basketball sharps. South Dakota State (30-4) rosters one of the best offenses in the nation. In fact, the Jackrabbits opened with the narrowest point spread of any 13-seed versus a four-seed (two points).
The pick: South Dakota State
(8) Boise State vs. (9) Memphis- 12:45 p.m., TNT
Memphis (21-10) has a long way to fly to make this game, which is being held in Portland. Boise State (27-7) on the other hand has a short 90 minute flight to Portland, easing their travel. Does travel mean everything? No, but it makes this a candidate for an upset (Memphis is favored despite being the lower seed).
The pick: Memphis
(1) Baylor vs. (16) Norfolk State- 1:00 p.m., TBS
The defending champion Baylor Bears (26-6) take on Norfolk State (24-6), who is making their second straight tournament appearance. Sadly for the Spartans, they ran into a buzzsaw both times (Gonzaga last year). Baylor is a strong candidate for the Final Four, holding the second-best odds in the entire tournament to do so.
The pick: Baylor
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Longwood- 1:45 p.m., CBS
Tennessee (26-7) won their first SEC basketball title since 1979 this season. They open their tournament against Longwood (26-6), who is making their first NCAA Tournament appearance ever. These two square off in Indianapolis.
The pick: Tennessee
(5) Iowa vs. (12) Richmond- 2:10 p.m., truTV
Richmond (23-12) made a surprise run in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament and won it as a six seed. They locked in a spot in the NCAA Tournament and take on Big Ten champion Iowa (26-9). The Hawkeyes are generally seen as “under-seeded” and could make a run given a favorable position in the bracket.
The pick: Iowa
(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Georgia State- 3:15 p.m., TNT
The top overall seed Gonzaga (26-3) landed the most favorable location in relation to campus, Portland. They take on Georgia State (18-10) who– despite being a 16 seed– is a very strong team. However, luck of the draw is important and the Panthers take on the best team in the nation from the get-go.
The pick: Gonzaga
(8) North Carolina vs. (9) Marquette- 3:30 p.m., TBS
It’s unusual to see UNC (24-9) seeded so lowly in the NCAA Tournament, but it’s been reality for the TarHeels post-Roy Williams. They take on Marquette (19-12), one of the better 8/9 teams in this tournament. The two square off at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, so grab you tickets now!
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The pick: Marquette
(5) UConn vs. (12) New Mexico State- 5:50 p.m., TNT
Don’t say we didn’t warn you about UConn (23-9). The Huskies are highly rated by KenPom and stack up in nearly every metric to the best of the best. They also landed a favorable location for their first two rounds in Buffalo, N.Y. New Mexico State (26-6) is nearly unbeatable at home– one of the most difficult college basketball environments to play in– but wane on the road.
The pick: UConn
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Saint Peter’s- 6:10 p.m., CBS
Many sources say Kentucky (26-7) is the best team in this tournament. They’re second only to Gonzaga in KenPom rating and roster one of the best players in the nation, Oscar Tshiebwe. The junior is averaging 17.1 points and a ridiculous 15.1 rebounds per game. While Saint Peter’s (19-11) is looking for a shocking upset, they drew the short stick here.
The pick: Kentucky
(5) Saint Mary’s vs. (12) Indiana- 6:20 p.m., TBS
Indiana (20-13) scored their way into the Round of 64 by defeating Wyoming in the First Four. They have a trek to Portland to take on Saint Mary’s (25-7) of California. Could the Hoosiers be a candidate to pull off an upset? Typically, playing in the First Four is an advantage and followed up by a cross-country trek isn’t encouraging.
The pick: Saint Mary’s
(8) San Diego State vs. (9) Creighton- 6:27 p.m., truTV
This should be another entertaining 8/9 matchup between two pretty good teams. Creighton (22-11) may be designated as a nine seed, but they ran an absolute gauntlet through a Big East that sent six teams to the Big Dance. They face San Diego State (23-8) in Fort Worth.
The pick: Creighton
(4) Arkansas vs. (13) Vermont- 8:20 p.m., TNT
Another trendy upset spot for one of the nation’s sweethearts in Eric Musselman and Arkansas (25-8). Vermont (28-5) pulled a great draw, playing their first two rounds in Buffalo– just a few hours from campus. Sportsbooks see this one as closer than some may expect, pinning Vermont as just 7.5-point underdogs.
The pick: Arkansas
(7) Murray State vs. (10) San Francisco- 8:40 p.m., CBS
There may not be a better game of mid-major heavy hitters than this one in any recent tournament. Murray State (30-2) comes in with just two losses on the entire season, but faces the tournament’s highest-ranked 10 seed in San Francisco (24-9). Five of the Dons’ nine losses this year came to Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.
The pick: San Francisco
(4) UCLA vs. (13) Akron- 8:50 p.m., TBS
As a MAC graduate (Bowling Green), I’m a bit biased here. However, in each of the last two tournaments, MAC teams made it into the Round of 32. Hey, we all have our superstitions when it comes to picking the NCAA Tournament. I wish I had a better, more reasonable argument for this one.
The pick: Akron
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Texas Southern- 8:57 p.m., truTV
Kansas (28-6) is the tournament’s third-ranked one seed and spearheads the Midwest region. They take on Texas Southern (18-12)– who won their First Four matchup on Tuesday– in Fort Worth. The Jayhawks pulled a terrific draw, with lowly-rated three and four seeds (Wisconsin and Providence, respectively).
The pick: Kansas
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