The first round of March Madness basketball games kick off Thursday, in several locations across the country.
While they won’t be playing at home, the Providence Friars are taking part in the first round of March Madness. The ninth-seeded Friars take on the eighth-seeded University of Southern California, in Raleigh, North Carolina Thursday.
Providence Journal sports columnist Bill Reynolds said Providence could run into trouble if the team relies only on their two strongest scorers, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil.
“When they have three guys playing very, very well they are appreciably better,” said Reynolds. “Their problem becomes when they rely just on two, and then one of them is not having a great game, and then they’re very very vulnerable.”
Reynolds said USC has fast, natural athletes, but lack the Friars’ discipline. Overall, he feels the teams are evenly matched.
“So I see it as a very entertaining game,” said Reynolds. “They have talent, USC, they’re not the most disciplined team in the world, they’re not the most defensive team in the world, but they have talent. It’s an eight-nine game in the tournament, which essentially means it’s a toss-up.”
If the Friars win their game, they’ll likely face the number-one seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in Raleigh.
In Providence, eight games will be played downtown. A pair of double-headers are slated for Thursday with two games scheduled in the afternoon and two more in the evening. The very first game is the hotly anticipated matchup of the University of North Carolina Wilmington against number four-seed Duke University.
“Duke is the chalk here in the race,” said columnist Reynolds. “I mean they are the best team; they’re the pedigree team here. They are supposed to win two games and move on. But the great thing about this is anybody can win these games. It’s not like some team is playing someone who they’re supposed to beat.”
The other matchups at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center are Baylor and Yale, Miami versus Buffalo, and Arizona against Wichita State. The winners play each other Saturday.