The madness begins tonight as the first round kicks off tonight in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Although there are no local Hampton Roads teams in this year’s tournament, there are a variety of teams with local connections in this year’s field.
Albany vs. Mount St. Mary’s – March 18th, 6:40 pm
Albany will face off versus Mount St. Mary’s to open the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Mount St. Mary’s won the Northeast Conference Tournament title and enters the tournament with a 16-16 record. They are led by senior guard Julian Norfleet (Landstown High School) who is second on the team at 17.5 points per game and leads the team with 5.4 assists per game. The winner of this game will receive the 16-seed in the South Region and will face top-seeded Florida on Thursday.
North Carolina State vs. Xavier – March 18th, 9:10 pm
The second first-round game on tonight’s schedule will feature the Wolfpack versus the Musketeers for the 12-seed in the Midwest Region. The Wolfpack feature freshman guard Anthony “Cat” Barber (Hampton High School) and junior guard Desmond Lee (Booker T. Washington High School). Barber has averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 assists per game while Lee has averaged 8.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. The winner will face Saint Louis on Thursday in the 5-12 Midwest Region matchup.
Albany / Mount St. Mary’s winner vs. Florida – March 20th, 4:10 pm
Florida enters the Tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation and the Tournament’s overall number-one seed. They will face off with the winner of the Tournament’s first play-in game on Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The Gators feature redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (IC Norcom High School) who is playing his first season with the team since transferring from Virginia Tech. Finney-Smith is averaging 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season.
Mercer vs. Duke – March 21st, 3:15 pm
The vaunted Duke Blue Devils will face Mercer in the 3-14 matchup in the Midwest Region. The Blue Devils loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship game and enter the Tournament with a 26-8 overall record and a13-5 ACC record. Duke features senior guard Andre Dawkins (Atlantic Shores Christian) who averages 8.2 points per game for the Blue Devils. The sharp-shooting guard also shoots 43.5% from three-point range.
Providence vs. North Carolina – March 21st, 7:20 pm
North Carolina (6-seed, East Region) enters the Tournament with a 23-9 record after falling to Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament. The Tarheels are led by forward James Michael McAdoo (Norfolk Christian) who is second on the team in scoring (14.2 points per game) and leads the team in rebounding (6.7 per game). Providence (11-seed, East Region) enters the Tournament with a 23-11 record and defeated Creighton to capture the Big East Tournament title. Providence also features sophomore guard Josh Fortune (Kecoughtan High School). Fortune is fifth on the team in scoring (8.6 points per game) and also averages 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Stephen F. Austin vs. Virginia Commonwealth – March 21st, 7:27 pm
The Rams enter the tournament as the five-seed in the South Region and will face the 12-seed Stephen F. Austin. VCU and its Havoc-brand of defense is led by one of the premier defenders in the nation, Briante Weber (Great Bridge High School). Weber leads the nation in steals at 3.4 per game. He also averages 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game.
Coastal Carolina vs. Virginia – March 21st, 9.25 pm
Coastal Carolina, the 16-seed in the East Region, will face top-seeded Virginia on Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina. Coastal Carolina features freshman guard Colton Ray-St Cyr (Lafayette High School) who has averaged 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in limited minutes this season. Also, since there are no local Hampton Roads teams in the tournament field Virginia (along with VCU) will be followed closely by the Hampton Roads area.
North Carolina Central vs. Iowa State – March 21st, 9:50 pm
North Carolina Central, the winner of the MEAC Tournament, will face Iowa State in the 3-14 matchup in the East Region on Friday. North Carolina Cental captured the MEAC’s automatic bid by defeating Morgan State in the title game, 71-62. North Carolina Central features junior forward Jay Copeland (King’s Fork High School) who is fourth on the team in scoring (8.1 points per game) and leads the team in rebounding (5.9 rebounds per game).