AT RALEIGH, N.C.
▪ No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast
Time/TV: 6:20 p.m., TBS
Florida Gulf Coast is back. The surprise Sweet 16 team of 2014 beat walloped Fairleigh Dickinson in a play-in game. The Tar Heels rolled through the ACC Tournament. The Eagles should be able to score but will have trouble keeping Brice Johnson and North Carolina from lighting up the scoreboard.
Pick: North Carolina 100-82
▪ No. 8 Southern California vs. No. 9 Providence
Time/TV: 8:50 p.m., TBS
It’s the third straight NCAA trip for the Friars under Coach Ed Cooley, but the program seeks its first NCAA victory since 1997. Providence’s Kris Dunn ranks among the nation’s top point guards. Southern California, which went 23-41 in Coach Andy Enfield’s first two years, is in the field for the first time in six seasons and will look to push the pace.
Pick: Providence 78-74
AT DES MOINES, IOWA
▪ No. 5 Indiana vs. 12 Chattanooga
Time/TV: 6:10 p.m., CBS
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell averages 17.1 points and leads a potent offense that stands in contrast to the Mocs. Chattanooga won 29 games under first-year coach Matt McCall, a former Billy Donovan assistant at Florida, using a stout defense.
Pick: Indiana 81-73
▪ No. 4 Kentucky vs. 13 Stony Brook
Time/TV: 8:40 p.m., CBS
This is Stony Brook’s first NCAA Tournament but the Seawolves have won 20 or more games for five straight seasons. This season, it took Vanderbilt to overtime before losing. The Wildcats begin the quest for a third straight Final Four, but they need to take this opponent seriously.
Pick: Kentucky 75-64
AT RALEIGH, N.C.
▪ No. 8 Texas Tech vs. No. 9 Butler
Time/TV: 11:40 a.m. TruTV
Tech’s Tubby Smith joins Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger as coaches to take five programs to the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders are in the tournament first time since 2007, Bob Knight’s last full season in Lubbock. The Bulldogs’ top threats are Kellen Dunham (16.3 ppg) and Kelan Martin (16.1).
Pick: Butler 66-61
▪ No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Hampton
Time/TV: 2:10 p.m., TruTV
Virginia is 7-0 all time against Hampton, the MEAC champion. The Cavaliers get 18 points and four rebounds a game from ACC player of the year Malcolm Brogdon. The Pirates were No. 68 (and last) in last year’s field but won its play-in game and didn’t exactly keel over for Kentucky.
Pick: Virginia 76-61
▪ No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 13 Iona
Time/TV: 1 p.m., TBS
MAAC tournament champion Iona brings an eight-game winning streak into the game. Point guard A.J. English averages 22.4 points, 6.2 assists and five rebounds. This should be one of the more up-tempo games in the first round. Iowa State averages 81.8 points, Iona 79.6
Pick: Iowa State 90-79
▪ No. 5 Purdue vs. No. 12 Arkansas Little-Rock
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., TBS
The Trojans are terrific defensively, allowing 59.6 points, second in the nation. Purdue is one of the nation’s biggest teams, led by 7-footer A.J. Hammons, who leads the Boilermakers at 14.9 points. Purdue brings 7-2 Isaac Haas off the bench.
Pick: Arkansas-Little Rock 53-52
▪ No. 3 Utah vs. No. 14 Fresno State
Time/TV: 6:27 p.m., TruTV
The Utes’ Jakob Poeltl, who averages 17.6 points and nine rebounds, is perhaps the nation’s most skilled big man. Fresno is back in the field for the first time since 2001, when Jerry Tarkanian was the coach. The Bulldogs’ Marvelle Harris averages 20.6 points and was selected Mountain West Player of the Year.
Pick: Utah 76-66
▪ No. 6 Seton Hall vs. No. 11 Gonzaga
Time/TV: 8:57 p.m., TruTV
The Zags reached their 18th straight NCAA Tournament by winning the West Coast Conference tournament and boast top talent in Kyle Wiltjer (20.7 ppg) and Arvydas Sabonis (17.4). Guard Isaiah Whitehead (18.4) controls the Seton Hall offense. The programs meet for the first time since 1954.
Pick: Seton Hall 75-69
AT DES MOINES, IOWA
▪ No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Connecticut
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., TNT
The Buffaloes are among the nation’s top rebounding teams and has the size to counter a Connecticut team that’s strong inside. Colorado’s Josh Scott averages 16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds. UConn opponents shot only 38.2 percent.
Pick: Colorado 74-71
▪ No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Austin Peay
Time/TV: 3 p.m., TNT
The Jayhawks enter the tournament on a 14-game winning streak, winning the Big 12 and league tournament. Austin Peay won four Ohio Valley Conference Tournament games in four days. That’s victory enough for the Governors.
Pick: Kansas 90-65
AT PROVIDENCE, R.I.
▪ No. 3 Miami vs. 14 Buffalo
Time/TV: 5:50 p.m., TNT
The Hurricanes, one of the nation’s most experienced teams, are led by former Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez, who averages 11.1 points and 4.4 assists. Buffalo got hot at the right time, winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament to make its second straight NCAA field.
Pick: Miami 78-62
▪ No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 11 Wichita State
Time/TV: 8:20 p.m., TNT
The Shockers ran away from Vanderbilt in a play-in game with a big second half led by point guard Fred VanVleet. Wichita State leads the nation in scoring defense at 59.0 and that could make things difficult for Arizona. This is the Wildcats’ team that reached the regional final each of the last two years but get 15.5 points form forward Ryan Anderson and 15.2 from guard Gabe York.
Pick: Wichita State 68-66
AT PROVIDENCE, R.I.
▪ No. 4 Duke vs. No. 13 UNC-Wilmington
Time/TV: 11:15 a.m., CBS
The Seahawks use a small lineup. Their top five scorers, led by Denzel Ingram, stand 6-5 or smaller. They’ll have problems with Duke’s length. Sophomore Grayson Allen and freshman Brandon Ingram, projected as a top five NBA Draft selection, power the defending national champion Blue Devils.
Pick: Duke 88-71
▪ No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 12 Yale
Time/TV: 1:45 p.m. CBS
Ivy League champion Yale returns to the tournament for the first time since 1962. The Bulldogs won their final five games to capture the only conference without a tournament. Baylor, led by Taurean Prince, should be motivated by last year’s first game bounce out by Georgia State
Pick: Baylor 71-60