Boston College Eagles
College of Charleston Cougars
George Mason Patriots
New Mexico Lobos
Texas A&M Aggies
West Virginia Mountaineers
First Round Matchups and Predictions
Game #1: Texas A&M vs. Dayton
Prediction: Dayton wins 76-62
The Flyers are coming off one of their best seasons in school history, finishing with a 26-11 record and a trip to the Elite Eight before bowing out to number one seed Florida. While they may have lost their best overall player in Devin Oliver, Dayton returns enough talent to take down an overmatched Texas A&M squad.
Game #2: College of Charleston vs. Connecticut
Prediction: Connecticut wins 83-65
The defending National Champions will prove to be too much for not only the Cougars, but possibly the entire tournament. Look for Ryan Boatright and company win this one handily.
Game #3: New Mexico vs. Boston College
Prediction: Boston College wins 65-60
If this were last year, New Mexico goes on to win this game by double digits, and maybe even the tournament. However, with the Lobos graduating two players to the NBA, Cameron Bairstow (Chicago) and Alex Kirk (Cleveland), the Eagles have a good chance to grab a quality win and advance to the second round.
Game #4: George Mason vs. West Virginia
Prediction: West Virginia wins 80-68
Juwan Staten is just too good. West Virginia storms out to an early lead behind their player-of-the-year candidate while the Patriots simply have no answer.
Players to watch
Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
Boatright is the undisputed leader for this Huskies team that will look to repeat as National Champions. This is Boatright’s first year playing the role of Batman as he has been Robin to Shabazz Napier for the past two seasons. There is no denying the talent Mr. Boatright possesses, but it will require a lot more than that to help Kevin Ollie win back to back ‘ships. For now though, the Huskies should be fine as they are the most talented team in the field and can lean on one of the nation’s top players.
Juwan Staten, West Virginia
Staten is the offensive focal point of this Mountaineers squad and possesses an uncanny ability to put the ball in the hoop. He is coming off a junior season that saw Staten average just over 18 points per game, and is without a doubt one of the best offensive players in the country. Look for Juwan to fill it up against George Mason and go on to lead the tournament in scoring.
Cullen Neal, New Mexico
Neal arrives in Puerto Rico averaging 24.5 points per game. Only a sophomore, Neal still has plenty of time to develop, but that’s not to say that he isn’t already scary good. The kid can flat out shoot it and with a 6’4" frame he is able to get into the paint and finish over opposing bigs.