The eight teams that will play in Pittsburgh for the First and Second rounds of the NCAA Tournament were announced during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Selection Show Sunday night. The teams will play the First Round on Friday, Mar. 18 and the Second Round on Sunday, Mar. 20 and the games will be played at PPG Paints Arena, with Duquesne as the host. This is the fourth time that PPG Paints Arena has hosted the NCAA Tournament, hosting it in 2012, 2015 and 2018.
No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 UAB 9:20 P.M.
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga 6:50 P.M.
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago 12:15 P.M.
No. 2 Villanova vs No. 15 Delaware 2:45 P.M.
The weekend looks to be a well attended First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament, with many teams being within a decent to medium drive away.
No. 2 Villanova are coming off a 28-6 season that finished as Big East Tournament Champions. The Wildcats have graduate guard Collin Gillespie who is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, which awards the best point guard in college basketball, and made the First-Team All-Big East for the second consecutive season. Villanova made it to the Sweet 16 last season, but the ultimate goal will be a NCAA Championship, which they last achieved back in 2018. Villanova also makes it their third straight appearance at the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, playing in 2018 and 2015 in the city.
They play No. 15 seed Delaware. The Blue Hens have not won a NCAA Tournament game, 0-5, and last made it to the Tournament in 2014. They need redshirt first-year forward Jyare Green, who won the Rookie of the Year in the Colonial Conference and All-CAA Second Team junior guard Jameer Nelson Jr. to step up if they want to make the big upset.
No. 7 Ohio State makes it in as a bubble team at 19-11 and last year, lost as a No. 2 seed to No. 15 Oral Roberts. First-Team Big 10 junior forward E.J. Liddell will lead the Buckeyes as they look to right the failure of last season. Ohio State played in Pittsburgh for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, playing as the No. 2 seed and defeating No. 15 Loyola (M.D.) and No. 7 Gonzaga en route to the Final Four.
They will take on No. 10 Loyola Chicago who made it to the Final Four in the 2018 Tournament as a No. 11 seed. The Ramblers also made it to the Sweet 16 in last season’s NCAA Tournament and play under head coach Drew Valentine, the youngest head coach in Division I at 30 years old.
No. 4 Illinois lost to Indiana in the Big 10 Tournament quarterfinals after becoming the Big 10 regular season champions. The Fighting Illini feature one of the best centers in college basketball in junior Kofi Cockburn, who made it onto the Big 10 First-Team and averages more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.
They will take on the No. 13 Chattanooga who won the SOCON Tournament on a buzzer beater in overtime against Furman. The Mocs are back in the tournament for the first time since 2016 and haven’t won a game since 1997 where they beat a No. 6 Illinois to make it to their only Sweet 16 appearance. Sophomore guard Malachi Smith, SOCON Player of the Year, and graduate guard David Jean-Baptiste, who hit that buzzer beater and also made the SOCON All-Second Team, will need to play an elite game to lead Chattanooga against a sturdy Illinois team.
No. 5 Houston made it to the Final Four last year before losing to eventual NCAA Champions Baylor. The Cougars feature a great front court of graduates forward/center Josh Carlton and forward Fabian White Jr. who both made the First-Team All-American Conference who will hope to make another trip deep into the tournament.
They face No. 12 UAB, also known as Alabama-Birmingham. The Blazers have C-USA Player of the Year junior guard Jordan Walker and C-USA All-Defensive Team graduate guard Quan Jackson, who will work together to try to get the upset in their first NCAA Tournament since 2015.