Friday is loaded with first-round games in March Madness. Day One of the first round brought some shocking upsets, including No. 15 seed Princeton beating No. 2 seed Arizona.
Could we witness another stunner soon?
No. 2 seed Marquette would hope not. The Golden Eagles (28-6) take on No. 15 seed Vermont (23-10) on Friday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Marquette won the Big East Conference a 17-3 record. Vermont started slow but went 13-2 in the America East Conference.
Does Vermont have what it takes to keep this one close?
Coach Shaka Smart has quickly put Marquette back on the map. He has led the Golden Eagles to the tournament in both of his years at the helm.
Smart’s teams thrive on defensive intensity. Marquette ranks 47th in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Golden Eagles have held their opponents to 70.6 points per game this season.
Their offense is even better as they average 79.9 ppg, the 25th best in the nation. They dish the ball quite efficiently as well, averaging 17.6 assists per game, the 10th best in Division I. KenPom ranks Marquette seventh in offensive efficiency.
Guard Kam Jones leads the way for Marquette with 15.0 ppg. Tyler Kolek has been hot recently, shooting 50.4% for 18.1 ppg game in his last 10 outings.
Vermont averages 73.0 ppg.
Both teams are on a roll. Vermont has won 15 in a row. Marquette claimed victory in 14 of its last 15, including nine in a row.
Spread: Marquette (-10.5)
Total (O/U): 142.5
Moneyline: Vermont (+430) vs. Marquette (-600)
Vermont is on a roll, however, Marquette has been one of the best teams in the country since February.
Vermont has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in its previous six appearances since 2010.This year could be no different as Smart and his squad are too talented and peaking at the right time to fall this early.
Expect Marquette to pull away late on the back of its efficient offense.
Marquette 80, Vermont 71