The last four in are the first ones up at the big dance.

Today highlights the beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, with matches between No.16 seeds and No.11 seeds. The University of New Orleans takes on Mount St. Mary’s in a matchup of 16 seeds, with the opportunity to take on defending national champion Villanova in the Round of 64. In the later game, Wake Forest battles with Kansas State in a showdown of 11 seeds with the winner facing Cincinnati in the next round. With all the chips being laid out and teams having everything to gain, lets break down todays contests:

New Orleans vs Mount St.Mary’s

All roads are leading to Villanova, but these two will worry about that when they get there. Mount St. Mary’s (19-15) won the Northeast Conference and New Orleans (20-11) conquered through the Southland Conference to get into the tournament.

privateers-storyNew Orleans averaged 73.1 ppg, but suffered from a putrid 349th ranking in turnovers. New Orleans is led by Erik Thomas, who averages 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Mount St. Mary’s plays defensive basketball, forcing turnovers is their niche. New Orleans plays a similar style of defense, ranking 102nd in defensive efficiency, they force many turnovers as well. Mount St.Mary’s averaged 68.3 ppg in the regular season and are led by Elijah Long who average 15 points, five rebounds and four assist per game. I predict that New Orleans takes this one, they turn the ball over, but their offensive is more efficient than Mount St.Mary’s. In a highly contested game, I predict that New Orleans prevails 73-64 over Mount St.Mary’s.

Wake Forest vs Kansas State

The 9:10pm showdown, No.11 seeds Wake Forest (19-13) and Kansas State (20-13) with the winner advancing to play Cincinnati on Friday. Wake is in the tournament for the first time since 2010, and they’re not looking forward to an early exit. Wake is led by sophomore phenom John Collins who finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting, and Bryant Crawford who averages 16 points and five assist per game. Watch out cause Wake can compete. Their biggest win this season came over No.2 seed Louisville 88-81 on March 1. 

Wake Forest’s opponent, a stoutly defensive Kansas State team. K-State is led by senior swingman Wesley Iwundu, but they will rely on guards Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown for production as well.  K-State ranks 27th in the nation defensively while Wake Forest ranks 8th in offensive efficiency. K-State comes in with marquee wins as well, two victories over Baylor including in the Big XII Tournament and a victory over West Virginia. The biggest key in this contest will be 3-point shooting. K-State struggles defending the long ball, while Wake Forest is a pretty good 3-point shooting team, they shoot 38.7% collectively. It’ll be close, but if Wake can get hot from 3-point range, look for them to one up K-State. I’m predicting Wake over K-State 74-67.