The NCAA Tournament is here. Is your bracket filled? Earlier this week I shared my take on the tournament’s First Four by determining which school I would peg as the favorite if we were to watch the two schools play in football, instead of basketball. One out of three made for a rough start, but now it is on to the first round of the tournament. Let’s take a look, region by region.
Indiana vs. James Madison
The FCS powers from James Madison ended up being the lone First Four pick correctly made in our previous post and now they move on to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. While this should be a lopsided outcome in basketball with the Hoosiers having national title aspirations, on the football field we could be in store for a slightly more competitive match-up. Even though Indiana has been a rough football program to watch, I still have to give them the edge even up against one of the top FCS programs in the country.
Closer than the experts might think, as Lee Corso might say, but Hoosiers move on.
N.C. State vs. Temple
Temple has worked hard to improve their program overall in recent years, but if they were to face NC State today in football it would prove to be a difficult match-up. Temple lacks offense and defensive depth but the Wolfpack could be caught sleeping for a bit. This match-up is clearly in favor of the ACC squad, who will advance to take on Indiana in the next round.
UNLV vs. California
Much like it should be in the tournament, a football game between UNLV and Cal could be a close one, and the outcome should come down to what exactly we see form Cal. We’ll give the Bears the nod here but this should be a close contest.
Syracuse vs. Montana
Syracuse football has seen some down times in recent years but the Orange look to be on the rise. Montana has proven to be one of the top FCS programs, although they are falling off of that national elite status on an annual basis. If this match-up took place a few years ago I might pencil in Montana for the upset, but today the edge still goes to Syracuse despite some recent struggles against FCS competition.
Bucknell vs. Butler
Yes, Butler does play football at the FCS level, but the Pioneer Football League is not quite up to the level of competition Bucknell routinely faces in the Patriot League. That said the Bison are coming off a woeful three-win season and Butler is fresh off a conference championship season. For the time being, we’ll give the edge to Butler in this round and don’t look now but the Bulldogs could very well be Sweet 16 bound!
Marquette vs. Davidson
Marquette dropped football following the 2009 season. Davidson was just 2-9 last season in the Pioneer Football League. Even though Davidson lacks much football power here, they have to get by Marquette by default in round one. Davidson’s victory here moves them in to the next round for a Pioneer Football League match-up against Butler for the right to enter the Sweet 16.
Illinois vs. Colorado
Thank goodness this game is not actually taking place, because it would be quite ugly. Regardless, somebody would have to win and Illinois is a slightly less hazardous train wreck than Colorado right now. I would take the Illini here, advancing them on to the next round to take on…
Miami vs. Pacific
The Pacific Tigers have not taken to the football field in nearly 20 years, last playing a game in 1995. Perhaps one day Pacific will get back on the field, but until they do it looks like Miami has a virtual bye right here in round one. Truth be told, Miami would probably get the nod regardless of Pacific’s football status, moving them on to take on Illinois in round two.