March Madness arrives: Round 1 of NCAA Tournament starts

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The sophomore guard piled up a triple-double of 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as 12th-seeded Murray State flew past No. 5 Marquette, 83-64, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region at XL Center. There's the big-name coaches such as Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and the under-appreciated in Wofford's Mike Young. Duke doesn't get started until Friday.

Of course, I have to take my No. 10 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers over the No. 7 seed Louisville Cardinals. However, the NCAA Tournament starts today, so I felt it was necessary to write about it and predict my victor.

Here's how the Sedgwick County Zoo's animal prognosticators think the NCAA tournament will play out in 2019. If I'm a player, I'm stoked. He saw a team executing at a higher level, one that is hungry to break through and deliver a national championship.

UMBC may not have made the tournament this year, but nobody can ever go at them for making history in the way that they did last year. The other No. 1 seeds, North Carolina, Virginia and Gonzaga, all three who faced Duke a total of five times this season, are confident they can be the team cutting down the nets April 8 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where the Final Four will be held. The team finished 2nd during the regular season in the Big East Conference and lost in the conference tournament semifinals to Seton Hall University.

Jay Wright's crew opens against No. 11 seed Saint Mary's in Hartford, Connecticut.

The March Madness Live app offers a free three-hour preview that allows you to watch games without a cable login.

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Morant came into today's game averaging 24.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game on the season, with Murray State winning a No. 12 seed in this year's big dance.

Morant dazzled on the big stage Thursday, ooh-ing and aah-ing the crowd with his risky playmaking ability, and showing why National Basketball Association executives are drooling over him.

Even better? Morant and Howard have been friends since attending Chris Paul's camp together. Lots of people knew he was good, a much smaller number had seen it first hand.

His two-handed dunk was as exciting a play as day one produced and his step back 3-pointer was a reminder that playing off him wasn't terribly effective either. Clayton Custer's jumper hit the rim and backboard before falling with 3.6 seconds left for a 63-62 win that sent Sister Jean to the Sweet 16.

For those, making the argument that being from mid-major conference hurts their case, I will bring up the fact that they beat Duke early in the season. First up for them is Florida, which forces turnovers by the dozen and feature a resurgent Jalen Hudson.

No. 12 seed Liberty could take down No. 5 seed Mississippi State, and I think No. 12 seed OR will take down No. 5 seed Wisconsin. Yale over LSU also got mentions, with the Tigers not having their head coach in Will Wade. Tony Benford will be in charge against the Ivy League champions, who have one of the nation's most electric offenses. "They're holding everyone accountable", Benford said. If you want to press your luck, pick one of these two teams to win as well. In the Midwest, there are several teams that can and will challenge the Tar Heels for a spot in the Final Four. "That pride makes it more challenging and more fun but it doesn't make it any easier".