Obviously, worlds can blow up in the short time between the 1st and the 2nd round in the NCAA Tournament, but it’s still important to get off to a positive start in the Thursday/Friday games to kick off March Madness. The big news of the first round of play is Kentucky making it the second year in a row that #2 seed was upset by a #15 losing as an 18-point favorite against Saint Peters after Oral Roberts shocked Ohio State last season.
For the most part, the top teams (besides Kentucky) looked good in their 2022 debuts. Your brackets are already locked in, but let’s check out some of the teams that may be Vegas Odds March Madness picks after the opening performances.
The Bulldogs lost a WCC Conference game for the first time in two years in the regular season finale against St. Mary’s, and although Gonzaga regrouped to win the conference tournament there were still some doubts surrounding the #1 overall seed. The Bulldogs looked a little shaky in the 1st half of game one going into the break up 35-33 against #16 Georgia State, but turned it on for a 93-72 win.
Unlike #1 Gonzaga, who played a tight first half in their first round win, Kansas put it on Texas Southern early and often en route to a 47-19 lead at half time. Those are the type of wins that have residual (positive) effects moving forward. Bill Self was able to rest his big dogs but also get his bench players some playing time and confidence thanks to the big blowout victory.
Make no mistake, Baylor looked great in their 1st round 85-49 domination of Norfolk State, but it’s what has happened in the rest of the East Region that has made BU winners in the 1st round. Baylor is in the region where #2 Kentucky was upset, and UK was actually the favorite to make it to the Final Four out of that bracket. Baylor still has possible tough challenges in #8 North Carolina, #4 UCLA, and #3 Purdue but any time a contender like Kentucky is eliminated that’s a good thing.
#3 Texas Tech
The Red Raiders have one of the more dominant defenses in the country, but if they can combine that with their offense that scored 97 points in the 1st round then we are looking at a National Championship contender. TTU cruised to a 97-62 win in over Montana State in round 1, and got some help in the bracket with #11 Notre Dame beating #6 Alabama in the 1st round.
There are a select few of experts who believe that Tennessee is a dark horse favorite to reach the Final 4 out of the South Division in 2022 March Madness. The Vols did their part in a 32-point win over Longwood in round 1, and are then set up for a matchup with #11 Michigan and what some would consider a very overrated #2 Villanova teams potentially in the Sweet 16.
The great thing (and frustrating thing) about the “winners” of March Madness round 1 is that these teams can very easily go by the wayside and crash and burn the very next game out. But hey, that’s what we are here for.