Everyone knew there were going to be some first round upsets in the NCAA tournament, and that’s exactly what happened on the opening day.
6 seed Maryland lost to 11 seed Xavier and Middle Tennessee State beat Minnesota in an intriguing 12-5 matchup. Another game to look at for a potential upset is the 11 seed Rhode Island Rams (24-9) vs the 6 seed Creighton Bluejays (25-9) as USA Today reporter George Schroeder states the following from his Midwest bracket preview:
“Rhode Island is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, but it’s clear from the No. 11 seed the selection committee didn’t think too much of the Rams. It’s a good thing they won the Atlantic 10 Tournament; otherwise, they might have been playing in the First Four. But led by E.C. Matthews and a consistently tough defense, Rhode Island is a decent bet for a first-round upset of Creighton. Behind Marcus Foster, Justin Patton and Khyri Thomas, the Bluejays can score in bunches. But they have struggled to find consistency in the last month, since losing star Maurice Watson Jr. last month to an ACL injury and subsequent arrest on a sexual assault charge. Although Creighton made it to the Big East Tournament final, losing to Villanova, The Bluejays are 5-7 in Watson’s absence. The Rams, who have won eight in a row’
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1999 THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND RAMS ARE DANCING!!! A-10 CHAMPS!!
— URI PROBLEMS (@URIprobs) March 12, 2017
Creighton enters the tournament having lost 8 of their last 15 games since starting 18-1 and losing starting point guard Maurice Watson, who suffered a torn ACL in a win back in January at Xavier. Four of the teams during that span have scored 82 points or more since the season-ending injury to Watson who was averaging 12.9 points and 8.5 assists per game.
Despite their recent struggles, the Bluejays did beat Xavier and Providence last week to reach the championship game of the Big East Conference tournament, where they eventually lost to Villanova. The Bluejays are now led by Juinor Backup PG Marcus Foster who averages 18.3 points per game, and freshman C Justin Patton, a 7-footer who is 4th in the nation in FG%, is also averaging 13.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. This is a potential matchup advantage against a smaller Rhode Island team.
— Creighton University (@Creighton) March 17, 2017
Rhode Island enters their 9th tournament of a different note after being on the bubble and originally struggling at the beginning of the season, losing four of its first 10 games and falling to 12-7 with a loss to Richmond on Jan. 25. Since then, they have went 12-2 including winning three games in three days to claim the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title. This included a win over VCU, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 years.
The Rams are loaded with talent including junior PG E.C. Matthews (14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 1.5 ast), 6-7 senior F Hassan Martin (14.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg), 6-3 junior G Jared Terrell (12.3 ppg) and 6-9 senior F Kuran Iverson, who is NBA hall-of-fame guard and Sixers legend Allen Iverson’s cousin, is averaging a solid 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
— Rhody MBB (@RhodyMBB) March 17, 2017