Unlike Rachel Maddow, I won't waste your time with a twenty-minute buildup culminating in nothing. I'll cut right to the chase. Here are the games to watch during the first round of this year's tournament:
Maryland (6) versus Xavier (11)
Folks, I'll be upfront that I have a slight bias for the Musketeers, a scrappy team hailing from Cincinnati. But this game has huge upset potential. This Maryland team is soft; softer than the mushy interior concealed within every terrapin's protective shell. This is to be expected from Maryland, a soft state. I once spent a night at the Caroline County Department of Corrections for using non-standard crabbing technology in violation of state regulations. Maryland's crabbing scene isn't the only thing that's overrated: their basketball team has had some bad letdown losses to the likes of Penn State and Nebraska. The Musketeers will get it done.
This is another intriguing can't miss game. Brad Underwood is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. Michigan, on the other hand, is the school that passed on the blue collar fierceness of Rick Pitino en route to irrelevance for most of the 2000s. Stillwater is a much tougher town than Ann Arbor. Take the upset, folks.
Michigan (7) versus Oklahoma State (10)
Cincinnati (6) versus Kansas State (11)
I'm taking K-State here folks. Don't get me wrong - I'm a Cincy man through and through; the city that brought us Pete Rose, the best chili on the planet, and Neil H. McElroy, the Defense Secretary under President Eisenhower. But K-State has so much momentum after falling just a point short of winning the Big 12 tournament when nobody expected them to. Don't best against momentum, folks.
Dayton (7) versus Wichita State (10)This is the crowned jewel of first round match-ups during this year's tournament, featuring two of my favorite teams. Wichita State and Dayton are teams that love to beat Ohio State; both of them handed the Buckeyes shocking Ls in 2013 and 2014 respectively. I have nothing but respect for Dayton; it's a great area, with one of the best Taco Bell restaurants I've ever been to - this place was clean as a whistle. But pick the underdog here, folks. Not that Wichita should be underdogs; they've been criminally under-seeded by the crooked NCAA elites that want to lock out small schools from the competition. The Shockers are a team that could run the table at this tournament.
Teams to Watch:
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are a team on the upswing, fresh off of an excellent Big 12 tournament where the 'experts' thought a Kansas Jayhawks victory was a fait accompli. This team plays with such tenacity, using the full court press for entire game to grind down the willpower of their opponents. I think this is the year they make a deep run. They say the Appalachian mountains are alive with the sound of coal mining once more, folks. They're bringing home some hardware this March too.
Purdue: Purdue is another blue collar team that is going to turn some heads. This is the school run by Mitch Daniels; former Republican governor of Indiana who handed over control of the state to our current Vice President, Mike Pence. The Boilermakers are not to be trifled with.