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.
Kansas vs. Western Kentucky
A number one seed has never lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but for us this is all about football and that leads to quite a different result. Kansas would be set up with a tough opening match-up against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, and given the recent trends with these programs, I’m rolling with Western Kentucky in a round one stunner.
North Carolina vs. Villanova
This should be one of the more entertaining first-round match-ups in the tournament, which is expected of most 8-9 pairings. In football we might get a good half from Villanova but through four quarters it will be tough to slow down North Carolina’s bigger and stronger offense. In a match-up of FBS vs. FCS, the Tar Heels move on.
VCU vs. Akron
Virginia Commonwealth is still in the infant stages of playing college football. In fact, they are doing so at the club level and just started in 2011. Even they would have a difficult time coming up with a win against one of the bottom feeders in the MAC, Akron. Akron gets by in round one but will have a difficult time going very deep in this sort of tournament.
Michigan vs. South Dakota State
Michigan might be one of the favorites in the NCAA Tournament, and they also have a very good chance of advancing pretty far in this football-minded approach. In round one they take on a very solid FCS program in South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are FCS Top 5 caliber but just will not have what it takes to score an Appalachian State type of upset against the Wolverines. Michigan advances.
UCLA vs. Minnesota
In a classic Big Ten-Pac 12 match-up we should expect the Bruins to flex their muscle. The football program at UCLA has the overall upper hand against the woeful Gophers. Minnesota has what it takes to keep it close early on, but ultimately UCLA will hit their stride and pull away from Minnesota to move on to the next round.
Florida vs. Northwestern State
This is one that could turn ugly in a hurry. Northwestern State is one of the better programs in the Southland Conference, and the Gators have been known to play a sloppy game with somewhat regular basis, but I just cannot picture Florida dropping this type of match-up. Florida advances to take on UCLA in round two.
San Diego State vs. Oklahoma
This could be one of the better pairings of football teams in the NCAA Tournament, but Oklahoma should be able to get by a feisty San Diego State in round one. The Sooners have the overall talent advantage, as well as depth. San Diego State has upset potential on a neutral field against a disinterested Sooners squad, but this is not the kind of game Bob Stoops lets get by him too often.
Georgetown vs. Florida Gulf Coast
Georgetown leave s a lot to be desired in football, but they get a virtual bye in round one because Florida Gulf Coast does not even play football. Georgetown moves on by default to take on Oklahoma in round two, and that should be a very favorable outcome for the Hoyas.