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2016 NCAA Tournament Friday First Round Preview and Predictions

Denzel Valentine

Denzel Valentine

March Madness is in full swing as first round action of the 2016 NCAA Tournament has begun. Just like Thursday, Friday has a slate of 16 games awaiting basketball fans with several top seeds ready to hit the floor.

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Among them is Oregon, the last of the No. 1 seeds to play. The Ducks are the top team in the West Region for the first time in program history. Awaiting them is First Four winner Holy Cross, the only team in the field with a losing record (15-19).

All four No. 2 seeds – Michigan State, Oklahoma, Xavier and Villanova – will take the court Friday, and as always attention will be paid on those lower-seeded teams that make some noise. Will that be Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Hawaii or perhaps Stephen F. Austin? And what about Michigan, can the Wolverines follow up their First Four win with another against Notre Dame?

NCAA Tournament Friday First Round Games

Note: All times Eastern, some start times are approximate

No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 7 Dayton

TV: 12:15 p.m., CBS

Site: St. Louis (Midwest Region)

Preview: First one to 60 in this one as both the Orange and the Flyers play solid defense. Syracuse will have a chip on its shoulder to prove they belong and to get revenge for its Round of 32 loss to Dayton in the 2014 Tournament. The Flyers have split their last eight games entering this one.

Prediction: Syracuse 63-61

No. 15 UNC Asheville vs. No. 2 Villanova

TV: 12:40 p.m., TruTV

Site: Brooklyn, NY (South Region)

Preview: Villanova has had its issues in the Tournament, although they haven't come until at least the second round. The

Wildcats have won their last two first round games by 41 and 20 points. UNC Asheville won at Georgetown back in December. They won't get their second Big East win.

Prediction: Villanova 82-57

No 10. VCU vs. No. 7 Oregon State

TV: 1:30 p.m., TNT

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: This was an oddly seeded matchup. The Beavers are the epitome of Home-Court Heroes and will most likely be

without Tres Tinkle. VCU is used to this spotlight and should let Mo Alie-Cox eat early and often.

Prediction: VCU 73-66

Related: VCU Rams vs. Oregon State Beavers Preview and Prediction

No. 13 Hawaii vs. No. 4 California

TV: 2 p.m., TBS

Site: Spokane, WA (South Region)

Preview: Hawaii will be a popular pick for an upset with others picking Cal to make a deep run. The Golden Bears have a solid mix of freshmen and veterans that give them a shot to be dangerous, although the loss of leading scorer and point guard Tyrone Wallace doesn't help. Hawaii nearly beat Oklahoma at home back in December. Cal will put the defensive clamps down.

Prediction: California 69-63

Related: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. California Golden Bears Preview and Prediction

No. 15 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 2 Michigan State

TV: 2:45 p.m., CBS

Site: St. Louis (Midwest Region)

Preview: Sparty has won four straight first round games with most of them coming by double digits. MTSU features Giddy Potts at point guard, but not much else to put around him. The Blue Raiders play good defense, but all that means is that they'll allow less points in a loss.

Prediction: Michigan State 77-61

No. 10 Temple vs. No. 7 Iowa

TV: 3:10 p.m., TruTV

Site: Brooklyn, NY (South Region)

Preview: The Hawkeyes have lost six of their last eight games, while Temple has been one of the teams others say don’t belong. Iowa at one point was 16-3 and features Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, who combine for more than 35 points per game. Temple will try to make this game ugly.

Prediction: Iowa 68-61

Related: Temple Owls vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Prediction

No. 15 CSU Bakersfield vs. No. 2 Oklahoma

TV: 4 p.m., TNT

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: The Roadrunners are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, but it won't be a long one. Buddy Hield is one of college basketball's best players. It may take some time for the Sooners to get used to CSU Bakersfield's style on defense, but in the end this one won't be close.

Prediction: Oklahoma 83-54

Related: CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners vs. Oklahoma Sooners Preview and Prediction

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No. 12 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 Maryland

TV: 4:30 p.m., TBS

Site: Spokane, WA (South Region)

Preview: Maryland's one of the most talented teams in the country. The problem is that the Terrapins don't always play like it. The Summit League has produced some solid teams in the past and the Jackrabbits are no different. George Marshall, who started his collegiate career at Wisconsin, is a solid senior guard who leads the way for South Dakota State. I came really close to picking the upset here.

Prediction: Maryland 68-64

Related: South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview and Prediction

No. 10 Pittsburgh vs. No. 7 Wisconsin

TV: 6:50 p.m., TNT

Site: St. Louis (East Region)

Preview: Wisconsin has lost two straight entering this matchup of two very similar teams. The Panthers have lost two of their

last three as offense has been an issue. Michael Young vs. Nigel Hayes is a solid matchup to watch. This one will be low scoring and ugly.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 67-66

Related: Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction

No. 14 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 3 West Virginia

TV: 7:10 p.m., CBS

Site: Brooklyn, NY (East Region)

Preview: The Lumberjacks beat VCU as a No. 12 seed two years ago. Thomas Walkup shoots 59.8 percent from the field and puts up almost seven rebounds and five assists per game. West Virginia's got balance with six players averaging at least eight points per game. The Mountaineers’ defense is stellar with a suffocating press. I would have picked Stephen F. Austin against a lot of other opponents, but not here.

Prediction: West Virginia 77-69

No. 14 Green Bay vs. No. 3 Texas A&M

TV: 7:20 p.m., TBS

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: There's a lot to like about the Phoenix, which are led by Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse. Problem is that they are taking on one of the most veteran teams in this Tournament. The Aggies lost four in a row back in February, but won eight of their next nine. They are clicking when it matters.

Prediction: Texas A&M 82-71

Related: Green Bay Phoenix vs. Texas A&M Aggies Preview and Prediction

No. 16 Holy Cross vs. No. 1 Oregon

TV: 7:27 p.m., TruTV

Site: Spokane, WA (West Region)

Preview: Holy Cross is the only team in the entire field with a losing record (15-19), although the Crusaders have won five straight games to get to this point. Kudos to Holy Cross for this improbable run, but it will come to an end in Spokane. Oregon is a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history and wants to show everyone why.
Prediction: Oregon 83-50

No. 15 Weber State vs. No. 2 Xavier

TV: 9:20 p.m., TNT

Site: St. Louis (East Region)

Preview: Harold Arceneaux isn't walking through those doors for Weber State. Instead it's Joel Bolomboy and Jeremy Senglin who will shoulder the load. The problem is that Xavier is one of the deepest teams in the country. Watch out for these Musketeers.

Prediction: Xavier 87-63

No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

TV: 9:40 p.m., CBS

Site: Brooklyn, NY (East Region)

Preview: Notre Dame is vulnerable in this one. The Fighting Irish don't have a ton of depth and could struggle against if the Wolverines find their shooting touch early. Michigan didn't blow Tulsa out in its First Four game, but the Wolverines can now use that experience to their advantage. Notre Dame also doesn't have enough size to make Michigan pay, which could play a huge part in the outcome.

Prediction: Michigan 72-71

Related: Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction

No. 11 Northern Iowa vs. No. 6 Texas

TV: 9:50 p.m., TBS

Site: Oklahoma City (West Region)

Preview: Shaka  Smart is back in the Tournament and this time he's bringing Texas. The Longhorns surprised a lot of people with how quick they picked up his ways. Northern Iowa has wins over North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State, but the Panthers also have some head-scratching losses. However, I really like Ben Jacobson as a coach and I think Northern Iowa pulls off another upset here.

Prediction: Northern Iowa 62-59

Related: Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction

No. 9 Cincinnati vs. No. 8 St. Joseph's

TV: 9:57 p.m., TruTV

Site: Spokane, WA (West Region)

Preview: The Hawks have been really good especially in conference play. They made a nice run on their way to an Atlantic 10 Tournament title, but that concerns me a bit considering the shallow depth they've got. Cincinnati should win the battle on the boards, but can Troy Caupain keep up with either Isaiah Miles or DeAndre Bembry? If he does, then the Bearcats can get the win.

Prediction: St. Joseph's 69-65