Jon Rothstein's 2021 March Madness First Four Picks and Predictions
The NCAA Tournament has finally arrived, and things get off and running with today’s First Four matchups. As well as my predictions on what will happen, make sure you check out Pickswise’s picks on the side and total for every single matchup throughout the tournament.
Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers vs. Texas Southern Tigers
Head coach Johnny Jones is back in the NCAA Tournament with Texas Southern and has a go-to scorer in former Oklahoma State guard Michael Flowers, who averaged 18.7 points during the conference tournament. Meanwhile, Mount St. Mary’s is massive upfront for a mid-major team. Three of the Mountaineers’ top four scorers are 6-2 or taller. The slower the pace, the better it is for Mount St. Mary’s.
PICK: Mount St. Mary’s -1
Be sure to check out the full game preview for Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers vs. Texas Southern Tigers.
Wichita State Shockers vs. Drake Bulldogs
Head coach Darian DeVries has done yeoman’s work this season at Drake, but injuries have recently lowered this team’s ceiling. The return of ShanQuan Hemphill—the Bulldogs’ top scorer and rebounder—from a foot injury should provide a huge boost. Hemphill hasn’t played since Feb. 10. Wichita State has an unsung star in 6-2 sophomore Tyson Etienne (17.0 ppg), who could wind up being the difference in this game.
PICK: Wichita State -1
Be sure to check out the full game preview for Wichita State Shockers vs. Drake Bulldogs.
Norfolk State Spartans vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers
The classic First Four matchup between 16 seeds features two head coaches in Dustin Kerns and Robert Jones who have done tremendous jobs at their respective posts. Kerns worked for Virginia Tech’s Mike Young at Wofford before becoming the head coach at Presbyterian and then Appalachian State. The winner will play No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga on Saturday.
PICK: Appalachian State -3
Be sure to check out the full game preview for Norfolk State Spartans vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers.
UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan State Spartans
Is this the most highly anticipated First Four game in the history of the NCAA Tournament? It certainly feels that way. UCLA has had issues closing out games recently, while Michigan State has beaten two No. 1 seeds in Illinois and Michigan along with a No. 2 seed in Ohio State over the past few weeks. Expect this one to go down to the wire.
PICK: Michigan State -2
Be sure to check out the full game preview for UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan State Spartans.
Want more of Jon Rothstein’s March Madness thoughts? Check out our huge NCAA Tournament preview show, which also features Rashad Phillips and Aaron Torres!