The 2017 NCAA Tournament continues on Wednesday night with the final double-header of the Big Dance’s First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
At the conclusion of the night, we will have the matchups set for the First Round which begins on Wednesday as March Madness officially kicks into full swing.
North Carolina Central vs. UC Davis
UC Davis is making its debut in the NCAA Tournament in a match up against North Carolina State. The winningest coach in UC Davis history, Jim Les, has had an up and down six-year tenure, alternating between winning and losing seasons. This year he, and senior guard Brynton Lamar led the Aggies to a 22-12 record and a punchers chance against North Carolina Central.
NCCU bounces back from a poor 2015-2016 season and finds itself in the NCAA Tournament again. The Eagles are making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament despite a weak strength of schedule in the MEAC. They managed to string together 13 wins in a row at one point this season and finished 22-12.
NCCU is a streaky team that beat its opponents by an average of 23 points through conference tournament. UC Davis makes its first appearance in the tournament, but isn’t able to keep pace offensively and they fall behind for good. North Carolina Central has enough to pull away and win this game.
Providence vs. USC
Providence managed to win six games in a row and sneak into the first four despite losing in the first round of their conference tournament. The Friars make their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, each other time they were dismissed in the second round.
A relatively young team with only one senior on the roster, the Friars will rely on forward Rodney Bullock who leads the team in points and rebounds per game. Kyron Cartwright leads the team with 6.7 assists per game.
USC started the season with a 14 game winning streak. They stumbled through the rest of the season and barely finished over .500 in their remaining games; 10-9. A 24-9 record has them playing in the first four and making their second consecutive tournament appearance. Coach Andy Enfield appears to have effectively turned the program around in only his fourth year as head coach. The Trojans have a history of clumping wins and losses together this season, a trend they’re hoping to break after being bounced in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament.
In a rematch of one of the first round matches last season, USC is looking for revenge. The Friars bounced the Trojans in a nail biting 1-point loss in that game, but might have a tougher time this year.
Both teams appear capable of stringing wins together and this could be another photo finish. The Trojans get their revenge, they beat Providence 70-69, an exact reversal of last years score.
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