Category Archives: NBA

March Madness 2018 Live

The NCAA Tournament field of 68 to decide the college basketball Division-1 national champion was unveiled Sunday, and Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier earned the four No. 1 seeds for March Madness.

Here is the complete schedule for the First Four games and the entire Round of 64. All television channels, tipoff times and approximated tipoff times are listed below. Times with an asterisk are approximated.

Here’s what fans need to know:


What: Four play-in games to determine the official 64-team bracket for the 2018 NCAA Division-1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, followed by 32 Round of 64 games.

When: Tuesday-Friday, March 13-16, 2018.

TV: CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV (see below).

Live stream: March Madness Live for all games.

all games on TruTV

16-LIU-Brooklyn vs. 16-Radford, 6:40
11-St. Bonaventure vs. 11-UCLA, 9:10*

The NCAA Tournament field of 68 to decide the college basketball Division-1 national champion was unveiled Sunday, and Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier earned the four No. 1 seeds for March Madness.

Here is the complete schedule from the First Four games, to the round of 64, to the round of 32, to the Sweet 16, to the Elite Eight, to the Final Four and to the National Championship game (this post will be updated as brackets are revealed):

March Madness 2018

I always bet (a term I’m undoubtedly using figuratively) on the talent.That’s why I’m rolling with the Wildcats in my 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket. No, not the ones from Kentucky, but the pair that play their home games in Philadelphia and Tuscon, Ariz.

MORE: Printable NCAA Tournament bracket This year, I’m picking No. 1 Villanova and fourth-seeded Arizona to face off in the national championship game April 2. Sure, teamwork makes the dream work and a college basketball team is only as good as the sum of its parts, but I’m banking on Arizona freshman big man Deandre Ayton and Villanova junior point guard Jalen Brunson to brighten the shine of the lesser stars in their constellations all the way to the title game in San Antonio.

Here’s how I see both teams getting there in my bracket: Arizona
vs. No. 13 Buffalo (First round)

After losing an assistant in the preseason and sitting out a late-season game amid the FBI’s investigation into bribery among the recruiting ranks, Arizona coach Sean Miller has had the most tumultuous of his nine campaigns at Arizona. Sure, 43-year-old Buffalo coach Nate Oats is one of the brightest minds in the game and could be in line to take a job at a power conference school, but none of that will matter once the ball goes up in the air in Boise, Idaho. The Wildcats are just too good.

vs. No. 5 Kentucky (Second round)

Maybe the juiciest second-round matchup in the entire tournament, the game between two conference champions could feature two premier coaches in Miller and John Calipari and as many as six future first-round NBA Draft choices in Arizona’s Ayton, Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins and Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo. But Cal’s cats are just learning how to play winning basketball. Miller’s won a regular-season league title and has built the type of winning habits throughout the season to advance to the Sweet 16.

vs. No. 1 Virginia (Sweet 16)

Defense wins championships and the Cavaliers are the best in the nation on that end of the floor. However, the last time I checked, the team that scores the most points still wins. Arizona is averaging 80.9 points per game and Virginia is limiting teams to 53.4 a contest. If the Wildcats can crack 70, they should win easily. I’m thinking they’re more than capable of hitting that mark. Virginia eclipsed 70 points just twice in regular-season ACC play.

vs. No. 10 Texas (Elite Eight)

I have Texas in the Elite Eight, but it’s more due to the ease of the Longhorns’ path than my belief in them as a contender. They’ll collect wins against Nevada, Cincinnati and Miami then get embarrassed by Arizona. The Longhorns haven’t won four games in a row since the start of the season, but those came against Northwestern State, New Hampshire, Lipscomb and Butler.

vs. No. 2 Michigan (Final Four)

The Wolverines have won back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles, but like football games in the trenches, basketball games are often won and lost on the boards. The Wolverines were ranked seventh in defensive rebounds and 11th in offensive rebounds in their league. Arizona led the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding and rebounding margin. The Wildcats are just too rugged for the Wolverines.


vs. No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn (First round)

LIU-Brooklyn’s Joel Hernandez is one of the feel-good stories coming into the NCAA Tournament. The 6-3, 180-pound senior stepped up and showed out to lead his 18-16 team to a surprise victory in the Northeastern Conference tournament. Enjoy him in the play-in game against Radford on Tuesday because it’ll be rough one for him and the rest of his squad when they take on Villanova.

vs. No. 9 Alabama (Second round)

The point guard matchup between Brunson and Alabama freshman Collin Sexton, a likely lottery pick, will be one for the ages. The Crimson Tide’s 91.08 defensive rating will keep them in the game, especially early as Brunson figures out how to maneuver against Alabama’s long, athletic defenders such as Herb Jones and Dazon Ingram. It’ll be the Crimson Tide’s inability to mount a balanced scoring attack that will be their undoing just as it was in the SEC semifinals against Kentucky.

vs. No. 5 West Virginia (Sweet 16)

Brunson won’t go for 20-plus points with the Mountaineers’ Jevon Carter, arguably the best on-the-ball defender in the nation hounding him, but that’s the beauty of the SN Player of the Year’s game. He can be just as effective creating opportunities for others. West Virginia’s patented full-court pressure won’t crack grizzled veterans such as Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth, both of whom will have big games.

vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (Elite Eight)

Will the Red Raiders look like the squad that won seven in a row in what might be the nation’s most competitive conference in the nation, or the team that followed that streak with four straight losses? Unfortunately for Red Raiders supporters, the answer will be both. Expect a gargantuan effort from Texas Tech senior Keenan Evans, but it won’t be enough to unnerve Villanova.

vs. No. 2 Duke (Final Four)

Duke is talented. Duke can rebound. Duke can score. Duke cannot defend on the perimeter and Trevon Duval is simply too shaky as a primary ball-handler, averaging 2.7 turnovers per game (Brunson averages 1.7 per while playing more minutes), and not dependable enough at the free-throw line (57.8 percent) to be depended on late in what will be a close contest.

Arizona vs. Villanova (National championship)

No offense to any of Villanova’s post players, but Ayton’s going to score at will. If that were Villanova’s only issue, concerning the nimble 7-1, 250-pounder, it might have a shot. It’s his defense on the perimeter in pick-and-roll situations that will complicate matters for Brunson as a scorer and a distributor, stifling Villanova’s offense. Arizona’s length, namely Trier and Alkins, both of whom stand 6-5, when it goes with a big backcourt that will give Villanova problems it can’t solve.

Houston vs San Antonio

The Spurs’ last seven losses have come with some pretty epic fourth quarter collapses. Pop probably won’t need to worry all too much about that this go around – his squad is at the end of an incredibly difficult road trip and squaring off against an absolute juggernaut. There is a legitimate case that the Houston Rockets are the title favorite right now – they are 34-2 when Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela play, which would put them on pace for a 77-win season!

It’s no surprise that a Mike D’Antoni-run team is more than capable of scoring. But how crazy is it that it’s a legitimate question to ask if this is

The greatest offense ever?
This isn’t hyperbole by any stretch. Houston currently posts the highest offensive rating ever, despite playing without Chris Paul for more than a quarter of the season. There are several metrics that reflect just how absurd they are. The two craziest are:

1. They shoot more threes than twos.

The 2017-18 Houston Rockets are not only on pace to shatter records for most threes made and taken in NBA history, but also the fewest twos attempted. No team has ever taken more threes than twos. The closest was last year’s Rockets squad, who took 540 more twos than threes. Houston GM Daryl Morey is often dubbed a pioneer of basketball analytics. This stat is something else. This is modern basketball on steroids.

2. They are the highest volume and highest efficiency isolation team in the NBA.

As much as the first stat represents the present and future, this one feels like an antiquity. It has long been established that isolation sets are one of the least efficient offensive options, yet Houston opts for it more than 14% of the time, far more than any other team since this stat has been measured (last year’s Cavs are in second, using it 11.9% of the time). If the Rockets have set the paradigm for modern basketball, why are they running so much iso?

I’d argue that this is the exact definition of modern basketball, which is about taking the most efficient shots based on the composition of your roster. Houston happens to have two of, if not the, best isolation scorers in the game. It makes sense for them to run iso, and the results show it; they score 1.14 points per possession on such plays. That efficiency – especially considering the high frequency with which they run iso – is absolutely unreal. For perspective, transition plays are often considered the most efficient playtype in basketball, but only four teams score at a higher rate in transition than Houston does on isos.

As formidable as the 2016-17 Rockets were, they were handicapped by their below-average defense. This team is a whole lot scarier because

The Rockets had several marquee victories during their 17-game win. The two most impressive were their wins against the Jazz and Bucks. Both of these games were road SEGABABAs, and the revamped defense was able to hold their opponents to 85 and 99 points, respectively. These games showed that Houston doesn’t need to rely on their offense to carry them like they did last season.

Houston’s defense has improved dramatically in two key facets since last season. Offensive rebounds and second chance points hampered an already mediocre defense. A team-wide focus on crashing the boards has moved the Rockets from 21st in the league in defensive rebound percentage last season to 3rd. They also make a more concerted effort to keep their opponent off the foul line, moving up from 10th to 5th.

Overall their defense has performed better, decreasing their defensive rating from an abysmal 109.0 (18th in the league) to 107.0 (9th). If the Rockets sustain this defense, their defensive rating would finish as the best rank a D’Antoni team has ever had.

The addition of pesky defenders in Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute has launched the Rockets into the top tier of team defenses. Is it enough to beat the Warriors in a 7-game series? Maybe, maybe not, but it is certainly a fair question to ask.

Matchup to watch: Dejounte Murray vs. Chris Paul. The Spurs’ best prospect has looked more and more comfortable at running the offense since usurping the starting job from Tony Parker. Tonight, he’ll be tasked with guarding the Point God, as tough a job as any in the NBA. These two matched up against each other recently, just a week and a half into Murray’s starting role, where he managed just 6 points and 3 assists (but 11 rebounds!). Let’s see if the young guard can muster a bigger performance to propel our ever-injured team to a shocking upset.