It’s your typical sports junkie’s favorite time of year: The NCAA Tournament. The underdog is ALWAYS a threat (thanks to UMBC). No names immediately become household ones. Cinderella stories are written. Legends are born. And that’s sometimes just the first weekend.
The First Four kicks off Tuesday with a pair of games. Wednesdays follows that up with more of the same. Then the REAL madness begins.
In spite of that Jeff Goodman welcomes on one of his favorite guests, a Maryland enthusiast, Scott Van Pelt.
NCAA Darling Vulnerable?
Seems like most of the country thinks Duke is the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. Why? Brand recognition. More specifically Zion Williamson recognition. He is the most popular player in the sport by a mile. He will be the number one pick in the NBA Draft this year. And most importantly he’s fun as hell to watch.
But is there a team in the East Region that could knock Duke off before they reach the Elite Eight and Final Four?
Both Jeff and Scott admit there are a few teams capable of beating the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16. Look, if Coach K’s squad plays their best basketball and is consistently hitting from the outside it’s going to be almost impossible. But anyone can win ONE game.
Virginia Tech narrowly beat Duke a couple of weeks ago. Both teams were missing pieces. Zion wasn’t available. Neither was Justin Robinson. If the Buzz Williams’ squad can execute like they did in late-February then Zion and his teammates might be out of the tournament early.
Mississippi State poses a similar threat. Despite their low offensive output, the Bulldogs have the type of team that can make the Blue Devils sweat it out for 40 minutes. Duke can go cold from long range, we’ve seen it several times this year (cough, Jack White). Mississippi State’s size down low could negate second-chance opportunities and turn the game into a slugfest.
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2:53 The grind of this time of year
11:00 Mississippi State can be the team that trips up Duke in the East
15:19 The upper-echelon teams
22:24 Stories from Vegas
31:13 Best single-game bets in Round 1