The Rebellion’s Guide on the NCAA Tournament (Round of 64 and Round of 32)

The+Rebellions+Guide+on+the+NCAA+Tournament+%28Round+of+64+and+Round+of+32%29

Matt Brownsword

 

Hopefully this year's NCAA Tournament will be as crazy and as fun as last year's.
Hopefully this year’s NCAA Tournament will be as crazy and as fun as last year’s.

 

This is the preview of the NCAA Tournament, for the first and second rounds of each region. Junior Bobby Rabaioli did the South; junior Pete Hoegler, the East; senior Jake Moser, the Midwest; I, the West. Each of these writers has a bracket that is linked below, and in order to access the bracket one must log in to ESPN using the username: march_madness324 and password: password. Each staff writer asks that you look at their individual bracket but do not edit, tempted as you may be. Don’t forget to join the Rebellion’s own Tournament Challenge on ESPN for a chance to win a 25 dollar gift certificate to Rico’s. Click on this link for more information, or click on this link for the group to join. Thank you, and enjoy.

 

South Region:

 

Game to Watch:

Reggie Bullock and the Heels have a tough first round matchup.
Reggie Bullock and the Heels have a tough first round matchup.

(9) Villanova v. (8) North Carolina on Fridayat 7:20 p.m. on TNT

 

Everybody watch out.  This game features two of the more under valued teams in the country.  North Carolina has one of the best offenses around and they aren’t afraid to pass the ball around.  UNC will look for James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairiston to carry the load.  Villanova on the other hand is a very streaky team who looks for Mouphtauo Yarou and Michael Arcidiacono to help lead them to a second round win.  If both players get hot, then Villanova can beat anyone in the country.

 

Upset Alert:

 

(11) Minnesota over (6) UCLA on Friday at 9:57 PM on truTV

 

The loss of Jordan Adams should hurt UCLA in many areas of their game.  UCLA’S freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammed can pick up the team and carry them to a victory.  Minnesota has been a very shaky team losing 11 out of their last 16 games making them a risky team to take as an underdog.  But playing in Big Ten conference makes them a formidable opponent for any one.

 

Sweet Sixteen Picks:

Kansas has title aspirations coming off a Big 12 championship.
Kansas has title aspirations coming off a Big 12 championship.

 

Kansas:  This could be the best defensive team in the field of 68.  Relentlessness from both the guard and forward position, this team does not have a so called star, but a more well balanced attack.

 

VCU:  Coach Shaka Smart has yet to lose a first round tournament game and this year won’t be his first.  VCU should make it on pure grit and determination, but Michigan looms as a potential dark horse to give them some trouble.

 

Florida:  Another great defensive team that can shoot the three ball and play average to beat many teams.  Billy Donavan has lead Florida to National Titles before and this year could be more of the same.

 

Georgetown: Defense, offense, Georgetown gets it done at both ends of the court.  Otto Porter Jr. is the best player in the south region and can easily carry Georgetown over any opponent.

 

Midwest Region:

Colton Iverson hopes to lead Colorado State over Missouri in the first round.
Colton Iverson hopes to lead Colorado State over Missouri in the first round.

Game to Watch: (8) Colorado State vs. (9) Missouri on Thursday, March 21 @ 9:20 PM on TBS

Larry Eustachy’s Rams are arguably the best rebounding team in the nation; they dominate on the offensive boards and limit second chances on defense. They don’t force many turnovers, but don’t give it away much, either. They are also led by star player Colton Iverson, who leads four double-digit scorers for CSU.  On the other side, the Tigers were a perfect 17-0 at home, but that won’t help them in the tournament. Still, this is a team that on any given night could put up 80 points, thanks to Laurence Bowers, Flip Pressey and four other players averaging in double digits on the season.

Upset Alert: (12) Oregon over (5) Oklahoma State on Thursday, March 21 @ 4:40 PM on TNT

Marcus Smart looks to avoid a first round upset against Oregon.
Marcus Smart looks to avoid a first round upset against Oregon.

The Ducks win games on sheer grit, outworking opponents on the glass and producing 8.5 steals per game on defense. This fierce work ethic is needed to combat an offense with no player scoring even 12 points per game or shooting above 35% on 3-pointers. Too many turnovers (14.9 turnovers per game) have also been problematic.  Not without their own set of issues is Oklahoma State.  Big 12 Player of the Year freshman Marcus Smart does it all, 15.4 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 4.2 assists per game, 2.9 steals per game, and Le’Bryan Nash (14.2 points per game) and Markel Brown (15.6 points per game) are also dangerous scorers. The Cowboys are a bit selfish with only 12.1 assists per game, and shoot horribly from 3-point range (31.9%).  Such sporadic play from the Cowboys give the Ducks just the opening they need to sneak into the Round of 32.

Sweet Sixteen Picks:

Louisville (1): The Cardinals have held opponents to below 60 points 21 times, so you know the defensive skills are going to be on display, led by great pressure and 6-11 Gorgui Dieng’s presence in the paint. This team is capable of scoring, too, with Russ Smith (18.1 points per game) leading the way.

Saint Louis (4): Since the start of December, the Billikens are 24-1 in non-overtime games, beating five ranked teams in that span. This isn’t the prettiest offense to watch, but they have six capable scorers and they can really defend. Saint Louis also has one of the best turnover margins in D-1.

Memphis (6): If the fact Memphis has lost just once since mid-December won’t convince you of the Tigers’ merits, we don’t know what will. Joe Jackson not only leads the team in scoring, but unselfishly distributes the ball to Adonis Thomas and Chris Crawford so that defenses are unable to key on any one player.

Creighton (7): Doug McDermott (23.1 points per game), Gregory Echenique (6.6 rebounds per game) and Grant Gibbs (5.9 assists per game) lead an experienced Bluejays team back into the Big Dance. Creighton is one of the most accurate shooting teams in all of the country, especially from beyond the arc, where they shoot 42.1 percent.

East Region: 

Game to Watch: (6) Butler v. (11) Bucknell on Thursday, March 21 @ 12:40 PM on TruTv

The difference seems vast given the seeding’s, but computer rankings disagree. Both teams have size at center: Butler with Andrew Smith and Bucknell with star Mike Muscala. Wins over Gonzaga, Indiana, and UNC show this Butler team can still compete with the big boys. This game seems ideal for undersized power forward Roosevelt Jones to make a major impact, and he’ll need to for the Bulldogs to avoid an upset.

Alan Crabbe hopes to lead the Golden Bears to the upset.
Alan Crabbe hopes to lead the Golden Bears to the upset.

Upset Alert: (12) California over (5) UNLV on Thursday, March 21 @ 7:27 PM on TruTv

This is a rare tournament rematch. These teams are entering the tournament in different ways – UNLV playing well and Cal with losses in its last two contests, but the Golden Bears have more than enough firepower to get a victory here, even though they did not when the two matched up back in December (a one-point UNLV win). It starts with the scary junior guard duo of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, who average a combined 34.2 points per game. Cal has wins over three ranked teams this season, including one at Arizona. UNLV, meanwhile, tends to struggle anywhere outside of Las Vegas.

Sweet Sixteen Picks:

Indiana (1): Although the Hoosiers had a disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinals, make no mistake; they are an extremely dangerous basketball team. Led by national player of the candidates Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, Indiana should be one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. The Hoosiers should have no problem reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Syracuse (4): Few teams boast—year in and year out—as much talent as the Orange. Coming off a convincing Big East Tournament run (lost to Louisville in championship), ‘Cuse is bound to make some noise in this year’s tournament. Brandon Triche provides senior leadership, while Michael Carter-Williams ranks among the nation’s elite in assists. Watch out for the Orange and their 2-3 zone.

 

Conor Cashman look-alike Brad Stevens looks for a Sweet Sixteen berth for his Butler Bulldogs.
Conor Cashman look-alike Brad Stevens looks for a Sweet Sixteen berth for his Butler Bulldogs.

Butler (6): Wins over Gonzaga, Indiana, and UNC show these Bulldogs team can still compete with the NCAA powerhouses. Coached by Brad Stevens—who does look like Mr. Cashman I might add—has brought his Butler team to the National Championship two out of the last three season, so no one should count these Bulldogs out this year. Rotnei Clarke has unlimited range, and Andrew Smith and Khyle Marshall possess deep NCAA tourney experience; the Bulldogs aren’t real big, but they know how to hit the glass.

Miami (2): Coming off an ACC championship, the Canes seem prepared for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Miami has one of the country’s top shot-blockers in Julian Gamble, strong rebounders in Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji, and the top two vote-getters in the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year voting: winner Durand Scott and Shane Larkin. The Canes’ only test in their rout to the Sweet Sixteen is Illinois, who is capable of pulling off the upset in the second round.

West Region:

 

Marshall "Land Shark" Henderson will try to lead the upset over Wisconsin.
Marshall “Land Shark” Henderson will try to lead the upset over Wisconsin.

Game to Watch: (5) Wisconsin v. (12) Ole Miss on Friday, March 22 @ 12:40 PM on truTV

The Badgers of Wisconsin come off a Big Ten Tournament that saw them knocking off the third-ranked team overall in this tournament on its way to a second-place finish. However, Ole Miss is coming off its own hot streak: the Rebels beat Florida, a three seed in the NCAA tournament, in the SEC tournament championship to secure a bid. Previously thought of as a bubble team, Ole Miss, led by the fiery Marshall Henderson, can do some damage and knock off some high-ranking opponents. Nevertheless, Wisconsin, led by Big Ten Coach of the Year Bo Ryan, should be able to shut down Henderson and use their physicality to secure rebounds and their number of shooters that can knock down threes to slightly overcome Ole Miss in the classic 5-12 upset alert game of the West Region.

Upset Alert: (11) Belmont over (6) Arizona on Thursday, March 21 @ 7:20 PM on TNT

6th seeded Arizona comes into their first-round tilt with 11th ranked Belmont fresh off an OVC tournament championship. Although the Wildcats almost–and probably should have–beat UCLA in the PAC-12 conference championship, they have regressed after a 20-2 start with a 5-5 finish. Arizona has one glaring defensive hole, their three point defense, and Belmont is great shooting the basketball from distance. If Belmont can keep the rebounding battle close or even edge out Arizona, the three point shooting of Ian Clark and Kerron Jackson should be able to top the Wildcats in a hotly contested first round matchup.

Sweet Sixteen Picks:

Pittsburgh (8): The Panthers’ defense and toughness should pose problems for Gonzaga, a team that has not played outside of the weak WCC for 18 games. The Panthers do have to get by a huge Wichita State team in a battle that has backyard brawl written all over it, but provided that they prevail, Gonzaga should watch out.

Kansas St. (4): A team that has become a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats had a share of the Big Twelve Regular Season Title–a conference that features Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State–and have no bad losses. Three of their seven losses have been to a great Kansas team, and they should be able to outplay Wisconsin, provided that each team get there.

 

New Mexico (3): A relatively unknown team for a 3 seed, the Lobos from New Mexico won the Mountain West Conference, which has actually provided some very stiff competition, including Colorado State (8), San Diego State (7), and UNLV (5). The Lobos are solid defensively and can get on hot streaks shooting the basketball, making them almost certain to beat Harvard and then Arizona or Belmont in the Round of 32.

Look for the defense of Aaron Craft to push the Buckeyes to the Sweet Sixteen.
Look for the defense of Aaron Craft to push the Buckeyes to the Sweet Sixteen.

Ohio State (2): Ohio State cruised through the Big Ten Conference Tournament and ended their run with a win over Wisconsin. The Big Ten is a power tournament, so winning that championship is no small feat coming into the NCAA Tournament. The strong defensive play of Aaron Craft as well as the powerful rebounding of DeShaun Thomas should carry them through to the Sweet Sixteen.