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Pregame Shootaround 3.19.13: NCAA tournament tips off with First Four in Dayton

Mar 19, 2013, 4:32 PM EDT

Matthew Dellavedova AP

Game of the Day: Saint Mary’s vs. Middle Tennessee (9:10 p.m. ET, truTV)

The night cap of the First Four in Dayton features two bubble teams who were both able to fall on the right side of that bubble and into the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday. For Saint Mary’s, everything starts with guard Matthew Dellavedova, who averaged 15.8 points and 6.4 assists per game this season. He is the engine behind an offense that is Top 25 in the country in scoring and field goal percentage, running through the WCC and if Gonzaga had not been there, likely would have won the conference.

Middle Tennessee was ready to be the mid-major snub, but now rightfully finds itself in the First Four. The Blue Raiders had high-major wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt in the non-conference this season, as well as keeping it close to Akron in an overtime loss. There is a good deal of balance to Middle Tennessee’s offense, but it is led by Marcos Knight with 13.5 points per game.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty (6:40 p.m. ET, truTV)

Liberty was able to catch lightning in a bottle in the Big South tournament and turn a bad start to the season into one worthy of an NCAA tournament automatic berth. They meet a North Carolina A&T team that emerged from the dust in the MEAC tournament after No. 1 and No. 2 seeds Norfolk State and North Carolina Central fell in earlier rounds.

This will be a game of contrasting tempos, with Liberty looking to score the basketball more and North Carolina A&T wanting a more defensive game. A&T will have to shoot well from the field if it wants to advance, though, 317th in Division I.

NCAA Tournament First Four

North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty (6:40 p.m. ET, truTV)

Saint Mary’s vs. Middle Tennessee State (9:10 p.m. ET, truTV)

Other Notable Games (NIT)

Maryland vs. Niagara (7:00 p.m, ESPN2)

St. John’s vs. Saint Joseph’s (7:00 PM, ESPNU)

Louisiana Tech vs. Florida State (7:15 PM, ESPN3)

Robert Morris vs. Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Norfolk State vs. Virginia (9:00 PM, ESPNU)

Northeastern vs. Alabama (9:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Ohio vs. Denver (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Washington vs. Brigham Young (9:30 p.m., ESPN)

Stephen F. Austin vs Stanford (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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