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Bing Predicts: First round of March Madness 2018

  • Bing Predicts: First round of March Madness 2018

    With the First Four in the books, the madness can officially get underway. Technically, Tuesday’s tipoff between Radford and LIU Brooklyn was the actual start to the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But should that really count as the beginning of the year’s greatest sporting event if we can still fiddle with our brackets for another 40 hours or so?

    Once the ball is in the air on Thursday, though, all picks are set in stone. To help you figure out whether you’ve made the right calls are not, Stacker turned to the data experts at Bing Predicts. With the help of web activity data and social sentiment — as well as historical player, team and game stats — Bing has predicted the outcome of each NCAA tournament game. Bing has assigned a percentage value to indicate the level of confidence in each pick, giving you a good idea as to who will be cutting the nets down when all is said and done.

    We’ll move through each region to give you the analysis and prediction for each game, beginning with the South region.

    Note: Also included with game predictions is the opening line for each game, courtesy of Vegas Insider.

  • No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 16 UMBC Retrievers

    Bing Predicts Winner: Virginia (87 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

    Opening line: UVA -23

    Tipoff time: 9:20 p.m. ET (Friday)

    Virginia’s title hopes took a shot before the tournament even began with the news that freshman De’Andre Hunter would miss the entire NCAA tournament with a broken wrist. Hunter won the ACC sixth man of the year award and ranked fourth on the team in points (9.2) and rebounds (3.5) per game.

    His absence won’t affect the outcome against UMBC, though. The Retrievers are making their second-ever appearance in the Big Dance and are led by senior guard Jairus Lyles, who averages 20.2 points per game.

  • No. 8 Creighton Bluejays vs. No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats

    Bing Predicts Winner: Creighton (56 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

    Opening line: CREI -2

    Tipoff time: 6:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

    Creighton ranks 18th in the country in offensive rating (114.5 points per 100 possessions) on the season, thanks in large part to senior guard (and former Kansas State Wildcat) Marcus Foster. Foster leads the team in scoring at 20.3 points per game. He previously averaged 14.1 points in 62 games at Kansas State during his first two college seasons before getting kicked off the team in March 2015. That decision proved to be a wake-up call for Foster, who has thrived in two seasons as a Bluejay.

    Kansas State’s defense will have its work cut out for it, though, as the Wildcats rank 141st in defensive rating (101.5). They hold opponents to 33.2 percent shooting on 3-point attempts (88th nationally), and they’ll need to defend the perimeter to slow down Creighton, which shoots 37.6 percent as a team. Bing gives the Bluejays the edge and sends them to the round of 32 to face Virginia.

  • No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 12 Davidson Wildcats

    Bing Predicts Winner: Kentucky (59 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Boise, Idaho

    Opening line: UK -6

    Tipoff time: 7:10 p.m. ET (Thursday)

    Good luck to the people who fill out brackets based on mascots. In the battle of the Wildcats, Davidson looks like a tough task for Kentucky. The Atlantic 10 champions live and die by 6-foot-8 senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who leads the team in points (21.5) and rebounds (7.8) per game. He also makes 39.4 percent of his 3-point attempts, with a team-high 76 makes.

    Davidson lacks depth — mostly using a seven-man rotation — and will need to stay out of foul trouble in order to pull off the upset. Kentucky is loaded with talent, particularly freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has scored in double figures in seven straight games and tallied 29 points against Tennessee in the SEC title game. Aldridge will need to be nearly perfect for Davidson to move on, and Bing likes Kentucky to avoid getting bounced early.

  • No. 4 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 13 Buffalo Bulls

    Bing Predicts Winner: Arizona (55 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Boise, Idaho

    Opening line: ARI -9

    Tipoff time: 9:40 p.m. ET (Thursday)

     

    Buffalo ranks 25th nationally in offensive rating (113.2) and features four players averaging between 14.6 and 16.9 points per game. The Bulls will need to be efficient on offense, because they’ll likely have trouble slowing down Arizona’s 7-foot-1 big man Deandre Ayton. The Pac-12 player of the year averages 20.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 36.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

    Buffalo’s tallest player who averages more than 15 minutes per game ins 6-foot-8 junior Nick Perkins. The team’s leading rebounder, though, is 6-foot-3 guard CJ Massinburg, so he and the rest of the Buffalo backcourt will need to be active on the glass.

    This will be a clash in styles, as Buffalo ranks 20th in the nation in pace (74.1 possessions per 40 minutes) while Arizona ranks 224th (68.7). The Wildcats’ size advantage — with Ayton and fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic — gives them the edge in terms of being able to set the tempo. Buffalo will likely be able to exploit Arizona’s so-so defense, but the Wildcats’ frontcourt should carry them to the next round.

  • No. 6 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers

    Bing Predicts Winner: Miami (61 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Dallas, Texas

    Opening line: MIA -2.5

    Tipoff time: 3:10 p.m. ET (Thursday)

    Loyola features one of the toughest defenses in the country, ranking 11th in defensive rating (94.1). The Ramblers do a particularly good job at defending without fouling, allowing the 18th-lowest free throw attempt rate nationally. Miami ranks 294th in free throw attempt rate, so the Hurricanes will need to try and get to the line often by attacking the rim as much as possible.

    On offense, Miami is paced by freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV, who leads the team with 11.5 points per game. That’s the lowest scoring average among tournament teams’ leading scorers, meaning Loyola won’t be able to just key in on Walker to stymie the Hurricanes’ offense. Miami’s third-leading scorer, Bruce Brown Jr., has been out since late January with an injured left foot and will miss Thursday’s game.

    Miami isn’t the biggest team, though Loyola only has one rotation player taller than 6-foot-7. It won’t be easy for the Hurricanes, but Bing likes Miami to advance to the next round in what should be a tight one.

  • No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 14 Wright State Raiders

    Bing Predicts Winner: Tennessee (79 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Dallas, Texas

    Opening line: TEN -13.5

    Tipoff time: 12:40 p.m. ET (Thursday)

    Nobody expected anything out of Tennessee this year, a team that was picked to finish 13th in the SEC in the preseason. Led by SEC player of the year Grant Williams, the Volunteers are one of the best teams in the country, returning to the NCAA tournament after a three-year hiatus.

    Tennessee ranks 42nd nationally in 3-point shooting (38.4 percent), though the Vols will have their work cut out against Wright State. The Raiders rank seventh in the country in defensive rating (93.2). Tennessee’s ability to connect on 3-pointers — combined with a 33.5 percent offensive rebounding rate (43rd nationally) — presents a particularly difficult challenge for Wright State, though. Bing expects the Vols to be able to avoid the upset and move on to the second round.

  • No. 7 Nevada Wolfpack vs. No. 10 Texas Longhorns

    Bing Predicts Winner: Nevada (86 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Nashville, Tennessee

    Opening line: NEV -1

    Tipoff time: 4:30 p.m. ET (Friday)

    The 7-10 game is usually an even one, but Bing sees this one as a lopsided matchup in favor of the Wolfpack. Nevada is 17th in offensive rating (115.9), 21st in 3-point shooting percentage (39.8 percent) and has the second-lowest turnover rate (12.3 percent). Texas grades out well on defense with a 98.6 rating (62nd nationally) but ranks a woeful 292nd (98.6) in offensive rating, making it difficult to imagine the Longhorns being able to keep up with the Wolfpack’s offensive attack, which is led by juniors Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline.

    Texas will need 6-foot-11 freshman forward Mohamed Bamba to take over. The Longhorns possess a huge size advantage, as Nevada’s tallest rotation player is listed at 6-foot-7. If the Wolfpack can contain Bamba and 6-foot-9 forward Dylan Osetkowski, then Nevada should be able to advance.

  • No. 2 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 15 Georgia State Panthers

    Bing Predicts Winner: Cincinnati (91 percent)

    Region: South

    Location: Nashville, Tennessee

    Opening line: CIN -14

    Tipoff time: 2:00 p.m. ET (Friday)

    Georgia State returns to the Big Dance after missing out the last two seasons. The Panthers pulled off a stunning upset back in 2015 as a No. 14 seed against Baylor, thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer by R.J. Hunter that sent dad and head coach Ron Hunter tumbling out of his seat.

    The elder Hunter has his team back in the field, and this time his team is led by a different go-to scorer in sophomore guard D’Marcus Simonds, who 21.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He’ll have a tough time getting anything against Cincinnati’s defense, though, which leads the nation with a 86.0 defensive rating. The Bearcats also rank 37th in offensive rating (112.1), so it’ll take a near-miracle for Georgia State to pull off another stunner.

  • No. 1 Xavier Musketeers vs. No. 16 Texas Southern Tigers

    Bing Predicts Winner: Xavier (96 percent)

    Region: West

    Location: Nashville, Tennessee

    Opening line: XAV -21.5

    Tipoff time: 7:20 p.m. ET (Friday)

    Texas Southern picked up its first-ever tournament win against North Carolina in the First Four, and that’s where the fun will come to an end. The Tigers faced a murderers’ row of a non-conference schedule, so they won’t be caught off guard by Xavier’s superior talent. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to keep up with Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and company, so expect the Musketeers to have no trouble moving on to the next round.

  • No. 8 Missouri Tigers vs. No. 9 Florida State Seminoles

    Bing Predicts Winner: Florida State (67 percent)

    Region: West

    Location: Nashville, Tennessee

    Opening line: MIZZ -1

    Tipoff time: 9:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

    Bing disagrees with Las Vegas in this one, giving the edge to the Seminoles. The obvious X-factor in this one is Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., one of the nation’s most sought-after high school prospects last year who’s missed basically the entire season with a back injury suffered in the season opener. He returned for the Tigers’ SEC tournament loss against Georgia, shooting 5-for-17 with 12 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.

    If Porter Jr. can contribute effective minutes against Florida State, the Tigers can be dangerous. But there’s a concern that his presence will have the Tigers out of sync. Missouri has an 18.2 percent turnover rate on the season — 31st-highest in the country — and the Tigers ranked a lowly 274th in steal rate (7.6 percent).  Florida State has an experienced squad, led by junior guard Terrance Mann and seniors Phil Cofer and Braian Angola, so expect the Seminoles to be the more composed side.

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