Will it be Boise State, La Salle, James Madison or LIU Brooklyn moving to the field of 64 on Friday? The second half of First Four match-ups tips off tonight, and while some fans may look at these teams with an air of derision for not making it to the main tournament field, you know each team’s fan base will enjoy the ride as long as it continues. Let’s take a look at both games as four teams start on their quest to the second round.
Both games will be shown on truTV.
(16) James Madison Dukes (CAA) vs. (16) LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (NEC)
Tip-off: 6:40pm ET
Winner plays: (1) Indiana
The CAA champion Dukes are in the tournament for the first time since 1994, a two-point loss to Florida (64-62); turns out the Gators would end up being a Final Four team that year. However, they’ll be facing a uphill battle as leading scorer Rayshawn Goins will sit out the first half after being arrested for obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct on Sunday night following a party. Can they hold off the NEC champion Blackbirds, who rank fifth in the country in scoring (79.5) behind seniors Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner?
The Blackbirds are 0-5 all time in the tournament and are in the field for the third year in a row, but this may be as good a chance as any to break the goose egg. Their last two opponents in the Dance: Michigan State in 2012 and North Carolina in 2011; those two teams made the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in those years, respectively.
Line: LIU Brooklyn -1.5
(13) Boise State Broncos (Mountain West) vs. (13) La Salle Explorers (Atlantic 10)
Tip-off: approx. 9:10pm ET
Winner plays: (4) Kansas State
We know Boise State from their BCS-busting ways in football–but do they have some magic on the basketball court? So far, it hasn’t happened; they’re 0-5 in the Big Dance and haven’t been since 2008–but they picked up their first ever at-large bid this year. Look for super sophs Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks to lead the way for the Broncos.
La Salle returns to the tournament for the first time since 1992 (ironically, a 13 seed), where they fell to Terry Dehere and (4) Seton Hall by 2. This time they’ll look to break through with Ramon Galloway leading the charge for an Explorers team that held their own in a tough A-10. Unlikely they’ll repeat their national title run of 1954 and Final Four appearance of 1955, though.
Line: Boise State -1.5