The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 14th with the First Four, and then moves on to the First Round on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17. The No. 2 seed Marquette Golden Eagles take on the No. 15 seed Vermont Catamounts.
Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the matchup.
Game date: Friday, March 17
Game time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: CBS
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
Odds: Marquette -12
No. 2 Marquette
Marquette just completed its best regular season ever, rising to its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 poll in school history. Head coach Shaka Smart did an excellent job with his group, leading the Golden Eagles to a 28-6 record and a Big East regular season title. The Golden Eagles’ success, in large part, has come because they can beat opponents in a number of ways.
Four players — two forwards and two guards — average double figures, allowing the team to play through the post and kick the ball out to shooters. Marquette can also win regardless of tempo: during their late six-game winning streak alone, the Golden Eagles won games in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. A team that can win regardless of the play style is a difficult out in March Madness.
No. 15 Vermont
Vermont was by far the strongest team in the America East conference all season, losing just two games in a conference where two-thirds of its teams finished with a .500 conference record or better. The Catamounts coasted to a March Madness automatic bid, winning three conference tournament games by double digits, including their championship game over a very strong UMass Lowell squad that led the conference in defense.
All-conference guard Robin Duncan has been a powerhouse for the Catamounts, leading the team in rebounds, with 7.3 per game, and in assists, with 4.4 per game. Vermont entered last year’s tournament as a No. 13 seed before losing in the first round. This season’s appearance will mark their fourth in the NCAA Tournament in a decade.