March Madness Round 64 Preview

North Carolina State vs. Seton Hall

Ninth-seeded North Carolina State takes on eighth-seeded Seton Hall in the first-round of the Midwest Region from Wichita, Kan., on Thursday. The Wolfpack and Pirates had successful regular seasons but both are coming off early losses in their conference tournaments, with N.C. State losing to Boston College 91-87 in its first ACC tournament game and Seton Hall being upset by Butler 75-74 in its opening match at the Big East Conference tournament.

N.C. State scored 56 second-half points as it erased a 14-point halftime deficit but BC’s Jerome Robinson broke a tie with 17 seconds remaining and then forced a turnover on an inbounds play to give the Eagles the upset win. “Every time we made a basket, they would come down and make a basket,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts told reporters after the game after he watched his team tie the contest five times late in the second half but saw its only lead on the game’s opening basket. Seton Hall’s loss in the Big East quarterfinal was a heartbreaker as Khadeen Carrington converted a three-point play with 11 seconds to play, giving the Pirates a one-point lead, but Butler’s Tyler Wideman scored on a putback with 4 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs the win. “It’s a tough loss,” Carrington told reporters after the game. “You never want to lose, but I feel like everyone put it out on the floor, but we knew it was going to be a tough battle when we came in, so it was a tough Big East game.”

TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (21-11): Senior guard Allerik Freeman, the team’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game, had a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting — including 5-of-7 from behind the arc — against the Eagles while All-ACC third-team center Omer Yurtseven added 20 points and nine rebounds. Markell Johnson, the ACC assists leader with 7.4 per game, had 10 points and six helpers, but also committed a crucial mistake when he asked for a timeout with 7.3 seconds left even though the Wolfpack didn’t have any, resulting in a technical foul and two made free throws for BC. “I knew in my head we didn’t have any,” Johnson told reporters after the loss. “I was so caught up in the game.”

ABOUT SETON HALL (21-11): The Pirates are a veteran team that features four senior starters, including Carrington and leading scorer Desi Rodriguez who averages 17.8 points and 4.9 rebounds. And then there’s senior center Angel Delgado, the Big East’s all-time leader in rebounds and just the second player in history to lead the Big East in rebounding in three different seasons. But don’t sleep on sophomore guard Myles Powell who was named the Big East Most Improved Player after averaging 15.4 points per game — second-most on the team — and is shot 38.5 percent from behind the 3-point arc this season.


1. Seton Hall has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons and hasn’t won a tournament game since 2004.

2. The Pirates average 38.2 rebounds per game, third in the Big East.

3. The Wolfpack have allowed opponents to shoot at a generous 46-percent clip this season.

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Seton Hall at Xavier

No. 4 Xavier has the inside track on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but getting to this point hasn’t been easy – and staying there will be even tougher. The Musketeers seek their ninth consecutive victory Wednesday night against visiting Seton Hall in their final tuneup before their rematch with No. 2 Villanova.

Xavier appears to already be in tournament mode, with each of its past four games decided by five points or fewer. That stretch includes back-to-back overtime victories over Georgetown and Butler and a thrilling 72-71 triumph at Creighton last time out; Quentin Goodin was the hero in that one, knocking down the tying and winning free throws with three-tenths of a second remaining. “Every kid’s dream,” Goodin said. “Everybody wants to be in that situation. On the road, down … and your free throws are the game winners. I don’t think it’s any better than that.” Next up for the Musketeers: a date with a Seton Hall team that has dropped five of its last seven games – including a 73-64 setback to Xavier in their first meeting of the season.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

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ABOUT SETON HALL (17-8, 6-6 Big East): The Pirates were nationally ranked earlier this season, but have struggled to make inroads in conference play – particularly on defense, as they’ve surrendered 80 or more points in seven of their first 12 Big East contests. Desi Rodriguez leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game and continues to be Seton Hall’s most consistent offensive option, scoring in double figures in all but two games. Angel Delgado contributes 13.3 points and ranks fifth in the nation in rebounding at 11.8 per contest; he was held to eight points in his first encounter with the Musketeers but pulled down a game-high 18 boards and is averaging 14.7 rebounds in his previous three meetings with Xavier.

ABOUT XAVIER (23-3, 11-2): Musketeers leading scorer Trevon Bluiett (18.9 ppg) had been the hero in both of Xavier’s overtime victories – pouring in a combined 57 points against the Hoyas and Bulldogs – but was off his game against the Bluejays, scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting while missing all four of his 3-point attempts. He did, however, contribute seven rebounds and four assists, and that dismal showing versus Creighton marks the only time this season he has been held to single digits. J.P. Macura came to life with 15 points after being held to seven or fewer in three of his previous four games, but he made just one of his six attempts from beyond the arc and is 2-for-16 from deep over his past five games.


1. Bluiett had been 12-for-19 on 3-pointers in two games prior to his goose-egg against Creighton.

2. Xavier ranks third in the nation in made free throws (476) and tied for 14th in attempts (617).

3. Macura poured in a season-high 27 points in his previous meeting with the Pirates.

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Seton Hall at Creighton

Getting its offense back on track should be the first order of business for Creighton if it hopes to come away from Wednesday’s Big East home game against No. 19 Seton Hall with a victory. The Bluejays put forth one of their worst offensive performances of the season in Saturday’s loss to No. 12 Xavier, but will have a chance to avenge an earlier loss at the hands of the Pirates.

Despite the struggles against Xavier, which included a season low in assists and points in the paint and a season high in turnovers that resulted in a 92-70 loss, the Bluejays still rank in the top 10 in the country in scoring, shooting and assists. No player struggled more than Khyri Thomas, who missed all eight of his field goal attempts and saw his streak of 15 straight games in double figures come to an end. “Being one of the guys we go to this year, I’ve really got to keep it moving,” the junior, who has missed his last 10 3-point attempts and is shooting 21.9 percent from beyond the arc in Big East play, told the media. “I can’t be down on myself and stop shooting 3s.” The Pirates have endured their own struggles from deep in the last two games, but were good enough from inside the arc to dispatch Georgetown 74-61 on Saturday at home, and can earn their fifth victory in the last six games against the Bluejays.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

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ABOUT SETON HALL (15-3, 4-1 Big East): The Pirates got it done on the defensive end against Georgetown by matching their season highs in blocks and steals thanks to the play of Myles Powell and Ismael Sanogo. In addition to scoring 19 points, Powell recorded career highs of six steals and two blocks, and Sanogo had three blocks while logging his most minutes since being suspended for a game before Christmas. “I think he is back and extremely focused on trying to be the defensive player that made him so good his sophomore year,” coach Kevin Willard told the media of Sanogo, who could soon make his return to the starting lineup. “It’s amazing the impact he has on the game defensively.” 

ABOUT CREIGHTON (14-4, 4-2): Since going 11-of-16 from the field and putting up 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-84 loss to Seton Hall in the Big East opener Dec. 28, Martin Krampelj has seen his field goal attempts plummet over the past five games. The sophomore from Slovenia, who is seventh in the nation in shooting at 67.4 percent, attempted only two shots against Xavier and finished with four points and four rebounds as his streak of three straight double-doubles came to an end. No player grabbed more than six rebounds against Xavier and the Bluejays had only eight offensive rebounds in the game despite shooting 40.7 percent, their second lowest mark of the season for a team that makes 50.9 on the season.


1. Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado recorded his 64th career double-double against Georgetown and stands 24 rebound shy of becoming the all-time leader in Big East games.

2. Marcus Foster had 16 points in the loss to Xavier and needs 148 to become the fourth player to reach 2,000 for his career for the Bluejays, who trail 5-12 in the series.

3. Desi Rodriguez notched 19 points against Georgetown to move into 19th place on the all-time scoring list for the Pirates, who are 10-0 this season when he is the leading scorer.

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NCAA March Madness Fantasy Preview:

Midwest Region Preview

A day after the finalization of this year’s long awaited March Madness Bracket, the 68 teams have been announced and FanPicks is proud to bring you a little insight information in this NCAA March Madness fantasy preview of the Midwest region’s top teams and players.

Lookout for our NCAA March Madness Fantasy Contests, the only ones in the industry with over 5 MILLION DOLLARS in prizes for the next 3 weeks at Fanpicks with our 4 March Madness contests.

NCAA March Madness Fantasy

Surprisingly, Virginia got the # 1 seed in the region despite losing against UNC in the ACC final. This is the 2nd time in its last 3 seasons that the Cavaliers get the top seed. However, it’s Michigan State that everyone had in mind to take the # 1 seed after the Big Ten dominance and win against Purdue.

Utah will rely on their 7 foot giant center Jakob Poeltl, a potential NBA prospect averaging a whopping 17.6 pts per game with 9 boards and almost 2 blocks per game. He will be one of the players to watch in that division. Gonzaga’s front court will be feared as well by Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis.


Top Players to watch:


  • Denzel Valentine:

Easily one of the favourites to win the national player of the year award, Valentine almost had a triple double in the final against Purdue and will most likely play solid in the tournament. No surprise here, he’s the most feared player in the division

  • Jakob Poeltl

The Center will play his lights out in order to hope having his name called out in the NBA draft in June. Look out for him to play at his maximum potential and Utah facing up against Michigan State in the Regionals.

  • Georges Niang

Niang, a problem to guard for every teams and this will surely continue. He’s second in scoring just behind Buddy Hield averaging 19.8 pts per game.

  • Malcom Brogdon

The ACC player of the year and Defensive player of the year can change a game and will be a force for the top seed Cavaliers.

  • A.J. English

Not someone that we hear a lot about but he actually ranks in the top 10 nationwide in scoring with 22.4 pts per game for Iona. He will show people his talent and hopefully his team follows his lead.

  • A.J. Hammons

Compared in many ways to the future hall of famer Tim Duncan, his dominance in the front court as well as his emotionless demeanour won’t go unnoticed.


Team to watch out for:

Purdue surely hasn’t digested its loss against the Big Ten Champions Spartans. Only 2 bad possessions made the difference in that game and the Boilermakers are actually considered to be contenders for the national title. Statistically speaking, most national champions hover around ranking in the late top 20s with a few exceptions. Purdie actually ranks 21st nationwide in Offense and 18th in Defense. With questionably the best front court in the country with A.J. Hammons leading the charge, Isaac Haas the 7 foot coming off the bench and Caleb Swanigan, their depth can keep them in any game while overpowering their opponents.


First round upset possibilty:

In any tournament, there’s a surprise and it usually comes from a team perfectly matching up against another. In this first round case, Iona matches up perfectly against Iowa St. If they shoot well beyond the arc and Hammons does his usual scoring job, they are an magnificent threat for the Cyclones.


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