Silver and Black Madness


March Madness is upon us.

The NCAA tournament officially kicks off Thursday, as the 64-team field begins play to determine a national champion to be named on April 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Busted brackets and upsets are sure to be the norm the next few weeks, but let's find out who the members of the Raiders will be rooting for when the madness begins.

Kentucky (No. 1 overall seed) –Ricky Lumpkin's Wildcats enter the tournament with a 34-0 record and as the favorites to be crowned national champions. They are led by head coach John Calipari and have a roster riddled with future NBA players. They officially begin their title run Thursday as they face off with No. 16 seed Hampton.

Virginia (No. 2 seed) –Ras-I Dowling's alma mater begins the tournament by squaring off against No. 15 seed Belmont at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. on Friday. The Cavaliers enter the tournament winners of eight of their last 10 games and are paced by junior guard Malcolm Brogdon who is averaging 13.9 points per game.

Notre Dame (No. 3 seed) –The Silver and Black have three members of the Fighting Irish on their roster, and George Atkinson III, Kona Schwenke and Justin Tuck are sure to be tuned in when their team takes on the Northeastern Huskies Thursday at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Fighting Irish enter the tournament winners of their last five games and are a trendy pick to win the entire tournament.

Oklahoma (No. 3 seed) –Both Curtis Lofton and Stacy McGee are proud Sooners, and their alma mater begins the tournament Friday, taking on No. 14 seed Albany. Oklahoma enters the tournament ranked 23rd in the nation in rebounding and are led by junior guard Buddy Hield who is averaging 17.5 points per contest.

Baylor (No. 3 seed) –Chance Casey's Baylor Bears begin the tournament against No. 14 seed Georgia State Thursday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Area in Jacksonville, Fla. The Bears finished the season ranked No. 16 in the polls and fourth in the Big 12.

Iowa State (No. 3 seed) –Jansen Watson is the sole member of the Raiders who attended Iowa State, who begin the tournament taking on No. 14 seed UAB Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. The Cyclones finished the season ranked No. 9 in the country and winners of the Big 12 conference tournament.

Maryland (No. 4 seed) –Jon Condo's Terrapins open tournament play squaring off against No. 13 seed Valparaiso Friday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Maryland has won eight of their last 10 games and are led by freshman guard Melo Trimble who is averaging 16.3 points per game.

UNI (No. 5 seed) –Austin Howard's alma mater enters the tournament as winners of 19 of their last 20 match-ups. Howard will certainly be tuned in to their game against No. 12 seed Wyoming Friday, as he played one season of basketball for the Panthers with his team earning a trip to the NCAA tournament as a No. 10 seed.

Utah (No. 5 seed) –Both OL Tony Bergstrom and CB Keith McGill are former Utes and their alma mater begins tournament play Thursday in Portland as they take on the No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The Utes finished the regular season with a 24-8 record and finished second in the PAC-12.

Cincinnati (No. 8 seed) –Kenbrell Thompkins' alma mater begins the tournament by facing off against No. 9 seed Purdue at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. The 2015 trip to the tournament marks the Bearcats' 28th appearance in the tournament and fifth in a row.

San Diego State (No. 8 seed) –The Raiders have two former Aztecs on the roster, as both WR Brice Butler and LB Miles Burris attended San Diego State. Their school begins tournament play on Friday, taking on St. John's at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. SDSU enjoys a balanced scoring attack, with both Winston Shepard and Aqeel Quinn both averaging 11.1 points per game.

Oklahoma State (No. 9 seed) –Antonio Smith's Cowboys begin the tournament in Omaha, Neb., as they face off against the Ducks of Oregon on Friday. The Cowboys finished 2014 with an 18-13 record and are led in scoring by senior guard/forward Le'Bryan Nash who is averaging 17.1 points per game.

University of Buffalo (No. 12 seed) - LB Khalil Mack saw his share of firsts as a UB football player and now the basketball team heads to the Big Dance for the first time as they take on West Virginia Friday.

Eastern Washington (No. 13 seed) –Taiwan Jones' Eastern Washington Eagles stay in the Pacific Northwest as they begin the tournament by squaring off against No. 4 seed Georgetown at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., Thursday. The Eagles boast a high-scoring attack, and their 80.8 points per game are ranked third in the nation.

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