No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 9 Vanderbilt preview: Game time, broadcast, betting line, prediction

The Northwestern Wildcats (23-11) are the No. 8 seed in the West Region, and will take on the No. 9 seed Vanderbilt (19-15). The game will be played at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 16.

Preview: Northwestern received the No. 8 seed with big wins over Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland, and Wake Forest in non-conference play. The Wildcats are led by junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who averages 14.4 points per game.

Vanderbilt reached the tournament as an at-large team out of the SEC, with big wins over Iowa State, Arkansas, South Carolina, and three wins over Florida. The Commodores are led by junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis, who averages 13.6 points per game.

You can check out the entire NCAA Tournament bracket here. You can also see how the committee ranked the teams 1-68 here.

Date: Thursday, March 16

Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: TBS

Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT

Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl

Opening Betting Line: Vanderbilt -1, via OddsShark

This will be the sixth match-up between the Wildcats and Commodores, dating back to 1965. Vanderbilt is 4-1 in the series, with the last game coming in 1992, an 86-66 Vanderbilt win.

This is famously Northwestern's first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wildcats had been the only team of the original 160 Division I programs to not make the Big Dance. That ends this year, to the delight of Northwestern alumni everywhere.

Vanderbilt returns to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time. The Commodores made last year's tournament as a No. 11 seed in the First Four, where it lost to fellow No. 11 seed Wichita State 70-50. This year, the Commodores will be playing in the Round of 64. Vanderbilt has made six Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight in its history.

RELATED: Every March Madness team's betting odds

Prediction: This is a very tough match-up to pick, as No. 8 vs. No. 9 games often are. Northwestern is one of the best stories of the tournament, making its first appearance in program history. Vanderbilt is a late riser, getting in as a nine-seed with 15 losses. Vandy impressed with big wins down the stretch, winning seven of its final nine games and sweeping three games with Florida, the four-seed in the East Region.

Vanderbilt will beat Northwestern in a close one. Hopefully the Wildcats won't have to wait quite so long for tournament appearance No. 2.

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