Jon Rothstein's 2021 March Madness First Round Day One Picks and Predictions

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Jon Rothstein

NCAAB · 1 year ago

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College basketball's hungriest insider. "Stay hungry, Stay humble"

The NCAA Tournament really gets underway today with a whole host of games to get excited about. 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.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida Gators

These are two of the more overachieving teams in college basketball. Florida sophomore Tre Mann is the player to watch in this game, after averaging 26 points during two games in last week’s SEC Tournament.

PICK: Florida pk

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida Gators.

Colgate Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Matt Langel has built a consistent winner at Colgate. The weight class will be raised against Arkansas. Keep an eye on Razorbacks freshman Moses Moody, who has scored 28 in two of his last three games.

PICK: Arkansas -9.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Colgate Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks.

Drexel Dragons vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

To quote Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky III circa 1982, “Prediction? Pain.” Sorry, Drexel fans. And that quote? Maybe the best ever.

PICK: Illinois -22.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Drexel Dragons vs. Illinois Fighting Illini.

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Utah State Aggies

Neemias Queta is going to be a problem for Texas Tech at the rim, but the Red Raiders’ perimeter is going to be a problem for the Aggies on both sides of the floor. Expect a chess match between Craig Smith and Chris Beard.

PICK: Texas Tech -4

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Utah State Aggies.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Nobody is more meticulous in college basketball than Chris Holtmann and he’s been studying all week for ways to stop Oral Roberts star Max Abmas. The 6’1″ guard led the nation in scoring this season and averaged 24.2 points.

PICK: Oral Roberts +16.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. Ohio State Buckeyes.

Baylor Bears vs. Hartford Hawks

If the Bears were getting ready to eat a six-course meal, this would be their appetizer. Don’t expect things to be competitive. Sorry, Hartford.

PICK: Baylor -26

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Baylor Bears vs. Hartford Hawks.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

This game feels like it should be played in an octagon instead of a basketball court. These are two of the toughest teams in the entire bracket. Expect a battle inside between Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright and Loyola-Chicago’s Cameron Krutwig.

PICK: Loyola-Chicago -5.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Oregon State Beavers

Wayne Tinkle is the first Oregon State coach to play in multiple NCAA Tournaments since Ralph Miller. His task in the Round of 64 is a tall one. Tennessee showed flashes of the form it showed earlier this season in last Saturday’s loss to Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals.

PICK: Oregon State +7.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Tennessee Volunteers vs. Oregon State Beavers.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Liberty Flames

This is going to be like going to the dentist for the Cowboys. Ritchie McKay worked for Tony Bennett at Virginia before taking his current post and the Flames play a similar style. If Liberty wins the opening tip on Friday, it may not take a shot until sometime on Saturday morning.

PICK: Liberty +7.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Liberty Flames.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

This is a classic 8-9 game. North Carolina has been terrific up front over the last few weeks, but ball security is a major concern. D’Mitrik Trice — as usual — will be a major key for Wisconsin.

PICK: Wisconsin +1.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels.

Cleveland State Vikings vs. Houston Cougars

Houston has one of the best cultures in college basketball. In two years, Dennis Gates has built one of the best cultures in the Horizon League. Expect the Cougars’ relentlessness on the boards to be the difference.

PICK: Houston -20

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Cleveland State Vikings vs. Houston Cougars.

North Texas Mean Green vs. Purdue Boilermakers

Both of these coaches — Grant McCasland and Matt Painter — do a tremendous job of getting their teams to play a hard and execute on both sides of the floor. The biggest difference though? Purdue has Trevion Williams and North Texas does not.

PICK: Purdue -7.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for North Texas Mean Green vs. Purdue Boilermakers.

Clemson Tigers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

How long has it been since Rutgers made the NCAA Tournament? The last time the Scarlet Knights were in the field — 1991 — Dances with Wolves won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This will be a defensive struggle. First to 60 wins.

PICK: Clemson +1.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Clemson Tigers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Syracuse Orange

San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country that nobody is really talking about. The Aztecs have won 14 straight games, with eight of those victories coming when the opponent scored 60 points or less. Syracuse is going to need to make in excess of 10 three-point shots to go over the top of Brian Dutcher’s stalwart defense.

PICK: San Diego State -3

Be sure to check out the full game preview for San Diego State Aztecs vs. Syracuse Orange.

Morehead State Eagles vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia has its best NCAA Tournament seed since it went to the Final Four in 2010. Morehead State has a star in 6’10” big man Johni Broome, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds in the OVC title game against Belmont. Things could get interesting here.

PICK: Morehead State +12.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Morehead State Eagles vs. West Virginia Mountaineers.

Villanova Wildcats vs. Winthrop Eagles

The world feels like it’s picking against Villanova in this game. That would be a mistake. The Wildcats don’t have what they had with Collin Gillespie, but they still have to advance. Keep your eye on Winthrop star Chandler Vaudrin.

PICK: Villanova -6.5

Be sure to check out the full game preview for Villanova Wildcats vs. Winthrop Eagles.

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!

Pickswise is the home of March Madness Predictions. Check out all of our March Madness Picks, including daily March Madness Parlays throughout the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

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