Big East storylines
1. Georgetown on upset alert?
The Hoyas have to travel farther than any team in the Tournament, nearly 3000 miles to Portland to face a team with the best scorer in the country in Eastern Washington. On paper, this is a PRIME upset. They don't play games on paper, though. Georgetown should be able to pull it off because Eastern Washington really doesn't play much defense. Also, just so everyone knows, saying, "Georgetown (or Gonzaga, or Villanova) will lose because they've lost in the past" really isn't telling of anything.
2. Best matchup of the day? Probably Butler/Texas
Two very evenly matched teams with coaches who are looking to either make a name for themselves (Chris Holtmann) or shed a horrible image (Rick Barnes). Vegas has this game at Texas -1.5 right now, which is the closest line on any game today.
3. Mack meets the NCAA Tournament again
The last time we saw Chris Mack's Xavier Musketeers in the NCAA Tournament -- discounting from their First Four appearance a year ago -- the Musketeers made the Sweet 16. They get to try to make another run today with their first test being the Ole Miss Rebels. Mack's predecessors before him -- the spectacular Sean Miller and terrific Thad Matta -- made a habit out of leading X to long, elongated runs in March so we'll see if Mack and Xavier can do it again this year.
4. Villanova is the other 1-seed that plays today
Lafayette is a good team, but, again, they won't be the 16 to beat the 1. I hope they have a couple Primanti Brothers sandwiches while they're in Pittsburgh at least. Make the trip worth it.
5. Just how will the Big East fare?
So yeah. You probably shouldn't expect Villanova to lose to Lafayette or anything today. But public perception has people wondering if the Big East teams were overseeded. Georgetown, Butler, and Xavier's performances on Thursday could go a long way towards either reaffirming or rewriting the current narratives attached to this wonderful conference. Fasten your seat belts. This is going to be a bumpy ride.
1. Kentucky's chase for an undefeated season continues
Kentucky is 34-0. You might have heard something about it. A 16-seed will probably beat a 1-seed someday. Law of averages says it has to happen eventually. It won't be in this game though.
2. The teams no one wants to see
The Texas Longhorns and UCLA Bruins share two things in common: They're both powerful college athletic brands, and they also are the bane of college basketball fans' existences at the moment, based on the idea that neither really belongs in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. It's hard to argue if you have a look at their resumes but in any event, here we are. Will they spoil the party and become even more loathed? We'll have to wait and see, but there's definitely some intrigue here.
3. D'Angelo versus HAVOC
If there's one "matchup" that needs to have everyone's attention today, look no further than VCU versus Ohio State. The superb D'Angelo Russell is one of the Big Ten Conference's jewels as the Buckeye freshman was phenomenal in the 2014-15 season. He might just wind up being a high lottery pick as well. His first test in the NCAA Tournament however is against Shaka Smart and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. The famed 'HAVOC' defense will either chew Russell up and spit him out, or the bombastic Buckeye will be able to crack the code and try to lift Ohio State to victory. This is going to be fun.
4. Notre Dame aims to rid its own perception
This was touched on by SB Nation's Mike Rutherford -- who also runs Card Chronicle, SBN's Louisville blog -- but Notre Dame has made a habit out of having poor performances in the NCAA Tournament. It's often interesting to me how a team with such a powerful brand eludes nationwide criticism when teams such as Villanova, Georgetown and Gonzaga for instance get bogged down often. With that said, Jerian Grant and the Irish have a big opportunity on their plate on Thursday. For their sake, they best make the most of it. And also, better hope Northeastern doesn't get hot from the 3-point line...
5. Looking for a 12/5 upset?
A lot of people are taking Stephen F. Austin over Utah because of SFA's upset last year. I think Utah is a far better team than the VCU team SFA saw last season. If I had to pick a 12/5 upset today, it'd be Wofford over Arkansas. I didn't like what I saw from the Razorbacks in the SEC Tournament, even though they reached the final. Bobby Portis struggled, and if that continues, Wofford may wind up winning