In 2001, the NCAA Tournament was expanded from its traditional 64 teams to 65 teams to let one more at-large bid into the field. Instead of making the last teams in the field "play in" to the NCAAs though, the decision was made to have what were chosen as the two worst teams in the field play against each other for the right to play into the bracket as a No. 16 seed.
For 10 years, this was considered a great success, but the field was expanded again from 65 to 68 teams. Now, instead of having two teams play their way into the field to get a 16-seed, four teams are playing for two 16-seeds. Furthermore, the NCAA is now punishing the teams that are the last four to get into the field by making them play into the dance as well. We've seen the "First Four" teams be lined as high as a No. 11 and as low as a No. 14, though that decision on an annual basis is up to the Selection Committee.
It's a good thing the field expanded when it did. In the very first year of the field of 68, VCU came from the First Four to the Final Four, becoming the first and only team to date to ever pull that off. That said, every single year since the NCAA Tournament was expanded in 2011, one of the teams who played in Dayton ultimately moved on to at least the Round of 32.
The saga involving the last four teams into the NCAA Tourmament is always a big one, and this year, those teams include the Providence Friars, USC Trojans, Kansas State Wildcats and Wake Forest Demon Deacons. On the surface, none of those four teams look all that menacing, and none of the four should have a shot to do much damage in the dance. But it's worth remembering that one team that played in Dayton has advanced into at least the Round of 32 every single season we've had the field expanded out to 68 teams. Will one of these four join the fray?
Most of the basketball analysts out there will tell you that USC didn't do a heck of a lot this year. It played in a top-heavy conference and won just one of the six games against UCLA, Oregon and Arizona. The Trojans though, did win 24 times this year and beat a couple other minor conference winners. They've got a real size advantage against Providence in the First Four game that will be played on Wednesday night, but capitalizing on that has been a problem in the past for them. The Friars won their last six regular season games before losing in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament to Creighton. The winner will play on Friday against SMU in Tulsa.
In the other 11/11 game of the First Four, Wake Forest and Kansas State will meet in the first Big XII/ACC game of what could be many between what have been suggested to be the two best conferences in America this season. The Demon Deacons snuck into the field largely thanks to one of the best players in America in John Collins, and Kansas State is going to have a heck of a time slowing him down. That said, the Wildcats have gone against bigger dogs than this and survived, though their most notable games might actually be two heartbreaking losses to the team perceived to be the No. 2 overall seed in this tournament, Kansas. The victor will slot in on the #11 line against Cincinnati on Friday in Sacramento.
Of course, the First Four also involves what is perceived to be the four worst teams in the field. The North Carolina Central Eagles will take on the UC Davis Aggies in the Wednesday game in Dayton, and the winner will have the right of facing off with the aforementioned Jayhawks. This is the first time the Aggies have ever been in the field, while UNCC has been the most dominant team in the MEAC for the last four seasons. Keep an eye on UNCC's guard trio of Patrick Cole, Dajuan Graf and Rashaun Madison. These three are all sharpshooters and aren't afraid to let it rip from anywhere on the court.
But it all starts with the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers and the New Orleans Privateers. The Mountaineers have been here in Dayton twice before, and they're the first team to make a third trip to the First Four. Their results? A win and a loss. They'll be favored to break that level mark against a New Orleans team that turns the ball over a ton at 16.1 times per game. But the most exciting part about this game might be two of the three smallest players in the entire tourney matching wits with each other, as 5-foot-8 Christavious Gill for UNO will be squaring off with 5-foot-5 Junior Robinson of MSM. The winner will obviously be in for a short dance anyway, as the next battle will come against Villanova, the best team in the field according to the Selection Committee.
Here is a breakdown of what you need to know as well as some predictions for the first four games of the 2017 NCAA tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
#16 Mount St. Mary's vs. #16 New Orleans, University of Dayton Arena - 6:40 p.m. ET ( truTV )
Opening Line: Mount St. Mary's +1.5
Preview: The Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers are no strangers to the First Four. They're here in Dayton for the First Four for the third time in their history, more than any other team in the history of the field's expansion. The Mountaineers have had a mixed bag of luck here, beating Coppin State in 2008 and losing to Albany in 2014. The task in 2017 is going to be to down the New Orleans Privateers, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. Continue...
#11 Kansas State vs. #11 Wake Forest, University of Dayton Arena - 9:10 p.m. ET ( truTV )
Opening Line: Pick 'Em
Preview: There was a great debate all season long as to whether the Big XII or the ACC was the best conference in America. We surely will get to see a first more matchups between these two conferences when push comes to shove, but the first of the bunch will come between the Kansas State Wildcats and Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The winner of this one advances to take on Cincinnati out in Sacramento on Friday. Continue...
#16 North Carolina Central vs. #16 UC Davis, University of Dayton Arena - 6:40 p.m. ET ( truTV )
Opening Line: North Carolina Central -3.5
Preview: The North Carolina Central Eagles have been the class of the MEAC for a number of years. They've been the No. 1 seed in the MEAC Tournament in three of the last four seasons, and this is going to be the second time they've danced as the league champs. The UC Davis Aggies though, have never been to the NCAA Tournament, and their first offering ever will come in the First Four in Dayton. Continue...
#11 Providence vs. #11 USC, University of Dayton Arena - 9:10 p.m. ET ( truTV )
Opening Line: Pick 'Em
Preview: The USC Trojans were always considered to be one of the scarier bubble teams for the NCAA Tournament. They had a host of wins with 24, but they really didn't win any of the elite games on their docket. That said, Andy Enfield knows a thing or two about winning games this time of year from his great run with Florida Gulf Coast a few years ago, and he's going to try to do the same in his first visit to the dance with the Trojans in 2017. The first test up is against the Providence Friars, who are playing in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. Continue...
March Madness is the name associated with the end-of-season NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament held every spring.
Also referred to as the Big Dance, this exciting playoff tournament has become one of the nation's most prominent sports betting events each year, driving CBS Sports and Turner Sports to strike an $11 billion deal with the NCAA for exclusive rights to broadcast the NCAA Tournament from 2011-2024.
You won't have to wait long to bet on some exciting action in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, as this year's March Madness will feature drama right off the bat.
While most fans will wait until Thursday's round of 64 to start betting on the March Madness tournaments, the tourney actually begins Tuesday with some intriguing battles in the First Four.
Some sports fans like to know what the oddsmakers have set as the betting line for NCAA Tournament games for entertainment purposes.
Well, the first set of March Madness odds, were posted on Selection Sunday by the good folks at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
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Gamblers Palace is your source for March Madness Brackets.
Our NCAA brackets for this years tournament are view able and printable for your pleasure.
Once the matchups are announced on Selection Sunday: March - 2017, the teams will be added.
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