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No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford preview for NCAA Tournament first-round matchup

The No. 1 Baylor and No. 16 Hartford face off in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

Baylor Bears guard Jared Butler runs the offense against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half at Ferrell Center. Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. No. 1 seed Baylor will face No. 16 seed Hartford in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Friday, March 19
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: truTV
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium (South Court)

Odds: Baylor -25.5
Over/Under: 141.5

No. 1 Baylor

The Baylor Bears could be the best team in college basketball heading into the NCAA Tournament. If you’re looking to find flaws in the Bears this season, you’ll need to dig deep and past one of the nation’s best backcourts. The Bears rank fourth overall in the KenPom ratings behind only the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and Baylor missed multiple weeks between games in February due to COVID-19.

The Big 12 regular season champs are led by their three-point shooting, which ranks No. 1 in terms of percentage at 41.8% heading into the tournament. Jared Butler is averaging 17 points per game, and that ranks second in the Big 12. He’s also leading the conference in steals and 3-pointers made per game

Record: 22-2, 13-1 Big 12
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 3
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 44
ATS: 15-9
Over Total: 15-9
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +250

No. 16 Hartford

The Hartford Hawks punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, defeating the UMass-Lowell River Hawks 64-50 in the America East Championship. Not only was it Hartford’s first conference title, they also got the first bid in school history. The Hawks finished the regular season with a record of 15-8 and fourth in the America East. For them to get to the title game, they had to take down the Vermont Catamounts in the semifinals. This season, the Hawks are averaging 66.0 points per game and only allowing opponents to score 63.9 points per game.

Two players to keep an eye out for in the NCAA Tournament is senior guard Austin Williams and senior guard Traci Carter. Williams is leading the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game, while shooting an efficient 51.1% from the field. He’s also averaging a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. As for Carter, he is averaging 11.4 points, 3.5 assists (team-high), and 2.5 steals (team-high) per game.

Record: 15-8, 8-6
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 254
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 127
ATS: 14-8-1
Over Total: 8-15
Odds to win NCAA Championship: N/A