NCAA Tournament (Football) Picks: The First Four

Today the NCAA tournament officially tips off with two play-in games, and yes we will refer to them as play-in games. This is a time of year when the college football blogosphere turns out content attempting to stay in the conversation during what has

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traditionally been college basketball’s time to shine. But my how the tide has turned on our hard-court friends.

Last year we had some fun by setting up a Worst Uniform Bracket. This year I decided to take a look at the actual men’s basketball tournament bracket and make picks based on who I think would win if the two schools were set to meet in college football. Get ready for some true slaughters in the early going, but the first round does present some intriguing match-ups.

For example, in the first round in the South Region we have UCLA taking on Minnesota. Given the way last season played out I would have to go with the Bruins. Another first round match-up we have that would make for a fun football game is the battle between Wisconsin and Ole Miss in the West Region. Of course, we have some real doozies out there too that have money game written all over it. Take, for instance Florida and Northwestern State. This game has potential to be as brutal on the hard-court as it might be on the gridiron.

Tomorrow I’ll run down the different regions, but for starters let’s take a quick look at which school would have the upper hand if the play-in games were actually football games. Boise State, you’re up.

Boise State vs. LaSalle

Boise StateIn what might have been the most lopsided football pairing in The First Four, the Cinderella turned relative national power always looking for respect would be a decided favorite against LaSalle’s football program. That is, if LaSalle still played football. The Explorers haven’t fielded a football team since 2007, when the school went just 0-10. If LaSalle still existed today in football the odds would be stacked against the FCS program. Boise State romps to move on and play Kansas State.

Middle Tennessee State vs. St. Mary’s

Like LaSalle, St. Mary’s no longer fields a football team. The Gaels last played a football game in 2003 as a Division 2 independent. St. Mary’s had the problem of being isolated as a D2 program, with not a lot of D2 football being played out in the region. We’ll give Middle Tennessee the obvious nod here, moving the Blue Raiders on to the first round to take on Memphis, which should be a very interesting match-up.

Liberty vs. North Carolina A&T

Here we have what could be a very competitive match-up of FCS programs. Liberty has come on strong as a football program, with Turner Gill currently at the helm as head coach and the Flames should be equipped to do well in the play-in game. But North Carolina A&T brings a championship pedigree, with three national titles claimed, including two in the 1990s. This game looks like a toss-up, but we’ll give a slight edge to Liberty on the neutral field, moving on to take the tournament’s number one overall seed Louisville.

James Madison vs. LIU – Brooklyn

James Madison football

LIU Brooklyn does not play football so we will make an executive decision and allow Long Island University to be represented by their division two programs at C.W. Post. (Long Island University has two main campuses, each participating at different levels of sports). In reality it will not mater, as the D2 school will get pummeled by one of the top programs in the CAA, and one that has scored a victory over Virginia Tech in recent memory. We’re moving the Dukes from James Madison on to the first round, where they will look to score an upset victory over Indiana.

But would that actually be an upset? Check back tomorrow to find out.

About the author

Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com and managing editor of Crystal Ball Run. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.