Saturday, March 22, 2014

NCAA Tournament 2nd Round Preview

Could Mercer be any more "scrappy underdog"-ey?
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Before you start with the "it's the 3rd round" nonsense, just understand that you are wrong.

We have not played two rounds of basketball, we have played a few preliminary games and a full round. Coastal Carolina didn't earn a bye, and neither did Wofford, so the NCAA can continue this "say it's a round later than it actually is" farce, but we're not drinking that Kool-Aid here at SuiteSports!

Anyways, my rant has finished, now here's your SECOND Round preview.

Most Likely To Be An Upset (7 Seed or Higher)

(7) Connecticut over Villanova
(12) North Dakota State over (4) San Diego State
(8) Kentucky over (1) Wichita State
(7) Oregon over (2) Wisconsin
(11) Tennessee vs (14) Mercer

Ok, after the first round we just had, can anything really be called an upset from here on out? I don't personally think so, because I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Shabazz Napier go all Kemba Walker and sink Nova, or NDSU continue its magical run against a weak 4-seed in SDSU.

Kentucky beating Wichita State? Any other year we'd call that a given, and the Wildcats have more NBA talent on their bench than there is in the entire Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers have yet to face a test like this.

Oregon is quicker, but less consistent than Wisconsin. If the Ducks can make it an up-and-down game, this isn't Bo Ryan's best defensive team. The Badgers are vulnerable, and if the threes aren't falling, even more so.

Finally, a low seed has to win that last game. Yeah, it's been that kind of a tournament.

Most Likely To Be A Blowout

(3) Syracuse over (11) Dayton
(4) Michigan State over (12) Harvard
(1) Arizona over (8) Gonzaga

I think the Cinderella run ends for Dayton and Harvard here, as both run into talented and experienced teams/coaches. Syracuse is the more vulnerable of the two, as the Orange have been on a slide over the last quarter of the season, but their 2-3 zone should still be able to contain Dayton, and their athleticism should be able to create enough open shots on the other end.

Dayton isn't that good, they just ran into an Ohio State team running on fumes. Oh wait, that kinda describes Syracuse too… Oh well, I'm going with it.

The Spartans, meanwhile, are peaking and getting healthy at the right time. They've got athletes, skill, experience and a coach with deep tournament experience. Harvard is just happy to be here, and they won't be able to stop Adrien Payne down low, or Gary Harris off the bounce. The clock strikes midnight for the Crimson soon.

Gonzaga can't defend or rebound, and that's a bad combination for trying to beat Arizona. The Wildcats force turnovers and hit the glass with the best of them, and the Zags will need to shoot lights out just to keep this game within arm's reach.

Players To Watch

Michael Dixon Jr., Memphis
Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

Dixon is often overshadowed by teammates Shaq Goodwin and Joe Jackson, but he's the Tigers' best pure shooter, and when he feeling it, Memphis can space the floor with the best of them. They'll need to be able to stretch things out against Virginia's top ranked defense.

Just a freshman, Gordon hasn't exactly put it all together offensively yet. He's an inefficient scorer that can't create his own shot off the bounce, but he's a tenacious defender, and his ability to get on the offensive glass is a huge reason why Arizona is where they are.

Gonzaga is a great shooting team, but one of the worst rebounding teams in the country. Look for a big day of put backs from Gordon.

Wichita State will face it's toughest challenge of the season in Kentucky, but if any player can get them over the hump, it's the seasoned Early. The Shockers' senior captain is also their best interior defender, and he'll be key if Wichita State hopes to bounce Julius Randle and uber-talented Kentucky.

2nd Round Picks


12:15 PM: (1) Florida over (9) Pittsburgh
2:45 PM: (4) Louisville over (5) Saint Louis
5:15 PM: (2) Michigan over (7) Texas
6:10 PM: (12) North Dakota State over (4) San Diego State
7:10 PM: (3) Syracuse over (11) Dayton
7:45 PM: (2) Wisconsin over (7) Oregon
8:40 PM: (4) Michigan State over (12) Harvard
9:40 PM: (7) Connecticut over (2) Villanova


12:15 PM: (2) Kansas over (10) Stanford
2:45 PM: (1) Wichita State over (8) Kentucky
5:15 PM: (3) Iowa State over (6) North Carolina
6:10 PM: (11) Tennessee over (14) Mercer
7:10 PM: (4) UCLA over (12) Stephen F. Austin
7:45 PM: (6) Baylor over (3) Creighton
8:40 PM: (1) Virginia over (8) Memphis
9:40 PM: (1) Arizona over (8) Gonzaga

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