March Madness matchups to watch

Dayton’s Enoch Cheeks, right, goes up for a shot against St. Louis defenders during a game earlier this month. The Flyers play Nevada on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Dayton’s Enoch Cheeks, right, goes up for a shot against St. Louis defenders during a game earlier this month. The Flyers play Nevada on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

March might be one of the best months on the calendar for a number of reasons, but it always ramps up a level following Selection Sunday.

The 68-team field for March Madness has been set and I am always rooting for chaos.

I won’t mind being at the bottom of the bracket pool if it means a 12- and a 13-seed are squaring off for a spot in the Sweet 16.

If you’re looking for bracket advice, boot up that computer and head on over to Since the website began in 2002, every national champ but one has been top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

That narrows your 68-team field to eight true contenders.

Don’t worry once you get there, it’ll be relatively easy to spot who those teams are.

You don’t want a winner, though. That’s boring.

You want entertainment and I think I’ve found your fix.

Here are three matchups (or teams) that I think will be fascinating to watch Thursday and Friday.


If there’s going to be a 2-15 upset this week, I think it’ll be because of the brand of basketball the Hilltoppers play.

Sure, Western Kentucky was the No. 3 seed in its own conference tournament (C-USA) and maybe got lucky in avoiding the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

However, WKU plays at the quickest pace in the nation.

Sure, the Hilltoppers offense has not been particularly sharp at points this season, but they won’t hesitate to get out into space and run.

Marquette’s success this season has been largely based around guard Tyler Kolek.

When he’s on, he’s one of the best guards in the country, but it’s worth noting he’s been battling an oblique injury and missed the Big East tournament.  

If you need an extra nudge, Marquette head coach Shaka Smart has lost seven of his last eight games in the tournament.


If you haven’t been paying attention to the James Madison athletic program over the last decade-plus, you’re not too late.

The Dukes had multiple win streaks of 13-plus games and a 31-win season is nothing to scoff at.

Did I mention JMU currently holds the longest winning streak in the country?

James Madison has wins over tournament teams in Michigan State and Akron.

Wisconsin has played the third-toughest schedule in the country, so I imagine they’ll be up to the challenge.

Either way, James Madison could be that No. 12 seed looking at a Sweet 16 bid if they continue playing their style of basketball.


I understand if you think I’m picking low-hanging fruit here for the local ties, but I assure you I am not.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Mountain West didn’t get a lot of love from the selection committee in terms of seeding.

That makes this matchup (and others containing Mountain West teams) fascinating to me.

I don’t know anything about how the Dayton basketball program thinks, but I bet they’d ask for a redo if you told them ahead of time they’d be playing the Wolf Pack.

Dayton shoots the lights out from beyond the arc — in fact, they lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (40.3 percent).

Meanwhile, the Flyers’ defense has not been one of its strong suits this season.

Even as a 10-seed, Nevada has been one of the most well-versed teams in the country with the 40th-best offensive efficiency rating and 36th-best mark in defensive efficiency.

Feels like the Wolf Pack could push toward a Sweet 16 berth if No. 2 Arizona isn’t up to muster.


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