Which First Four team has the best chance of making it to March Madness?

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Blake Snell, who claimed his second Cy Young Award after two bounceback seasons, finally agreed to a deal just more than a week before Opening Day.
Snell has agreed to a two-year, $62 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, a person with direct knowledge of the agreement told USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet finalized.
The deal includes an opt-out after the first season.
Suddenly, a Giants offseason that started out in a slumber ended with a stunning flourish.
Snell joins a staff that also includes Logan Webb, runnerup to Snell in the 2023 NL Cy Young balloting.
Earlier this month, the Giants added third baseman Matt Chapman on a similar short-term deal with multiple opt-outs.
The recent agreements with the two Scott Boras clients caps a winter that also included a $113 million commitment to South Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, a three-year, $42 million deal for DH Jorge Soler, a four-year, $44 million deal for closer-turned-starter Jordan Hicks and a trade for former AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, who won’t be available until close to midseason.
All things Giants: Latest San Francisco Giants news, schedule, roster, stats, injury updates and more.
Snell, who turned 31 Dec. 4, had a dominant season for the San Diego Padres, leading the major leagues in ERA (2.25), adjusted ERA (182) and fewest hits per nine innings (5.8) and earning the National League Cy Young Award.
That capped a two-year stretch in which he posted a 2.72 ERA and 3.17 Fielding Independent Pitching over a 56-start stretch.
Snell’s five-year, $50 million contract extension he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays expired after this season, and this was his initial free agent foray.
He won the 2018 AL Cy Young with Tampa Bay but struggled with consistency in the three seasons that followed, particularly after the 2020 trade that sent him from the Rays to the Padres.
Yet he hit his stride again in his final two seasons with the Padres, setting himself up for a lucrative winter.
Just one that lasted a lot longer than he surely would’ve preferred.
“You go through pockets of doubt,” Snell said after winning the Cy Young in November.
“And then I remind myself, ‘You’re great,’ and believe that.”Contributing: Bob Nightengale

The Western Athletic Conference (yes, the WAC!) expanded in the 1990s, and even though realignment and expansion have been all the rage in college athletics these past few years, the butterfly effect still wreaks havoc on March Madness brackets everywhere.

How? Well, a number of member schools were not happy with the WAC’s 1996 expansion to 16 teams, and in 1999 the Mountain West was established. When a new automatic qualifier was added in 2001, the men’s NCAA Tournament was enlarged from 64 to 65. Ten years later, after coaches pushed for 96, 65 grew to 68, a move that “preserved the character and integrity of what’s been created,” according to then-Big East commissioner John Marinatto.

These First Four teams have demonstrated since that most recent expansion that, even though the “first round” starts on Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday are equally productive. Twelve teams from the First Four have advanced to at least the Round of 32 in the 12 tournaments since its inception. Several First Four teams in 2023 took this action.

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Year Team Result 2011 (11) VCU Final Four 2012 (12) South Florida Second round 2013 (13) La Salle Sweet 16 2014 (11) Tennessee Sweet 16 2015 (11) Dayton Second round 2016 (11) Wichita St. Second round 2017 (11) USC Second round 2018 (11) Syracuse Sweet 16 2021 (11) UCLA Final Four 2022 (11) Notre Dame Second round 2023 (16) Fairleigh Dickinson Second round 2023 (11) Pittsburgh Second round.

The First Four has only failed to send a team to the Round of 32 once since it was established. UCLA (2021) and VCU (2011) tore apart brackets everywhere, so deep runs are also common.

We will always remember UMBC and Fairleigh Dickinson, but in order to determine which teams should be on the above list, we are concentrating on the First Four No. Ten seeds: Colorado, Colorado State, Boise State, Virginia, and Colorado. On Tuesday, the Cavaliers and Rams will play, and on Wednesday, the Broncos and Buffaloes. They are all on the bubble because of serious flaws, but there’s also a reason why they were picked. History also indicates that at least one of them might have an effect on your bracket in the Round of 64. possibly even further. The likelihood of each candidate doing so is as follows:.

1. Coloradan.

These Buffaloes have a lot of positive qualities. After losing four of five games in late January and early February, Tad Boyle’s team won eight straight games to advance to the Pac-12 Tournament final. They have been playing well recently. According to barttorvik . com, the Buffaloes have been the 15th-best team in the country during that time.

Although such numbers are fantastic, they don’t win games. There are plenty of players in Colorado. KJ Simpson, a member of the Pac-12 first team, drives the Buffaloes. Averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 assists per game, the junior guard lights up the scoreboard (45 percent from three).

Eddie Lampkin and Tristan da Silva, on the other hand, comprise a frontcourt with disparate styles. Da Silva is a gifted offensive player who made 55 3-pointers this season (38%) to showcase his versatility. Lampkin is a 6-foot-11, 265-pound (generously listed) bulldozer who has never in his career tried a 3-point shot. However, he has a powerful interior presence, pulls down a lot of rebounds, and was an important member of several TCU Tournament teams. Experience counts in March, and Simpson, da Silva, and Lampkin are an experienced trio.

Then there’s rookie Cody Williams, who our Cameron Salerno profiled last month and who projects to be a top-10 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft. While talent is indisputable and invaluable, particularly in single-elimination situations, injuries have contributed to an inconsistent year.

Finally, I’m a fan of Boise State in the First Four. The Buffaloes score 1.16 points per transition possession, demonstrating their excellent transition play. That ranks 29th in Division I overall. In contrast, Boise State ranks 349th in Division I with its 1 point16 points allowed per transition possession. As can be seen below, Boyle will undoubtedly turn on the engines and galvanize his talented group.

2. Colorado Institution.

Isaiah Stevens, the program’s all-time leading scorer and assister, is already the stuff of legends in Fort Collins, but he has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game. It’s time to change that, and he has plenty of support from former Division II player of the year Joel Scott and Colorado transfer Nique Clifford. Scott is a tireless interior scorer who shoots nearly 63 percent on 2-pointers, and Clifford is making 38 percent of his 3-pointers, second only to Stevens on the team.

But Stevens is ultimately the focal point of it all. March is a good month for great, seasoned guard play, and Stevens possesses both. This season, he is the only player averaging 16 points, six assists, and at least 44 percent from three points. He scored 20 points and dished out seven assists in a crushing victory over Creighton early in the season. After half a month, he defeated Colorado with 20 points and 11 assists. He’s on par with the nation’s best guards and an excellent big-game player as well.

Rams dominance reached as high as No. after a great start, he dropped a little bit and finished at number 13 in the AP Top 25. The Rams must make shots in order to get back there; after 13 games, they were shooting 39% from beyond the arc, and since then, they are only shooting 31%. Not many teams can match the Rams’ offensive capacity, though, which is provided by the inside-outside Stevens/Clifford-Scott combination.

3. Boise State.

In the history of the program, Boise State is dancing for the third season in a row. It was difficult, though. Following a crushing defeat at Utah State on February. 10, and the Broncos had a 16-8 record. Then, as the Broncos won six of their final seven regular-season games before losing to New Mexico in the conference tournament, Tyson Degenhart took the game by storm, averaging 19 points and six rebounds.

Some numbers are big fans of the Broncos. The Broncos dominated several key categories in a six-bid Mountain West.

Metric vs. MWC rivals’ rankings for offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency are as follows: offensive efficiency: 114 points; first offensive rebounding percentage: 34 points; first defensive rebounding percentage: 78 points; first free throw percentage: 75 points; second 3-point percentage: 35 points; third opponent percentage: 78 points. 3rd place, 31st percentile, 31 points.

This being said, there are a few reasons the Broncos are only third on this list: first, it’s a difficult matchup. Second, the defense fluctuates. They allowed 64 points and 8 points per game in conference victories. The difference increased to 76 points in conference losses. They won conferences on average by 14 points, while they lost by 10 points on average.

The Broncos’ defense is that they have no obvious weaknesses and are skilled and adaptable. They have a reputation for being untrustworthy and aren’t particularly good at anything save defensive rebounding, according to their detractors. Fittingly, they score 9-9 in the games of Quad 1 and Quad 2. Usually, they split the toss-ups and defeat the right person. I want a team with incredible top gear in March, and if that’s not possible, I want something I can rely on. Neither does Boise State seem to fit.

4. Virginian.

Over the last ten years, Tony Bennett’s teams have been remarkably consistent. Right up until this year. This season, the Cavaliers have lost ten games, nine of them by double digits. The Cavaliers lost five of their final nine games despite an eight-game winning streak that seemed to come out of nowhere following back-to-back defeats by a combined 35 points to Wake Forest and NC State.

Virginia’s defense is its main strength. In addition to Ryan Dunn, one of the best wing defenders in the country, Reece Beekman was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. But the offense is very weak. According to kenpom.com, the Cavaliers’ offensive efficiency rating is 194th, which is the lowest of any team led by coach Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers are ranked 355th in free-throw shooting and 328th in 2-point field goal percentage. The Cavaliers shoot 36% from 3-point range, but almost all of that effort is provided by Jake Groves (47%) and Isaac McKinley (46%).

The Cavaliers are 9-0 in games decided by six points or less, which is largely attributable to their defense and excellent ball handling (they rank fifth in turnover rate). as well as much success. Furthermore, you can’t rely solely on luck to succeed in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s looking good for Colorado State because their best player, Stevens, will be facing Virginia’s best player, perimeter defense. Outstanding results have been achieved by Beekman in stopping rival guards.

Famous protectors against. UVa Points FG-FGA RJ Davis 12 1-14 Wade Taylor 9 2-10 Walter Clayton 12 3-11 Nijel Pack 2 0-8.

But the offensive line needs to put something together in order to make a run, and this season that simply hasn’t happened.

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