RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.18.10Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010
Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region. If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at email@example.com.
South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)
- Duke and guard Nolan Smith don’t think they’ll have an easy path to Indianapolis even though all the “experts” agree that Duke has the easiest road to the Final Four of the number one seeds. Smith said, “This is the NCAA tournament, there’s no such thing as an easy path.”
- California, who was considered by many a lock to make the Tournament, was not feeling at ease after the first three brackets were announced and their name was yet to be called. Head coach Mike Montgomery thinks with his team at full health they will be a very tough out for anyone in the tournament.
- If there was any doubt that Old Dominion was coming in confident against Notre Dame it should be washed away after reading this New York Times article on their upset victory. I know it is obviously after the fact, but Frank Hassell, ODU’s leading scorer, said “We really weren’t worried about them or Luke (Harangody). We were worried about us.”
- Another “after the fact” article, but here is a nice interview with Baylor head coach Scott Drew on being in the NCAA Tournament and how he handles each game. Baylor survived a scare from Sam Houston State, which is a big deal because the #14 seeds were on their game today, and it’s Baylor’s first NCAA Tournament win in 60 years.
- With Omar Samhan in foul trouble Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett went to his bench to look for someone who might be able to fill the void, and he went to a player used sparingly during the regular season. The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the freshman’s role in SMC’s big win.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at Villanova’s stingy victory over Robert Morris and Jay Wright’s decision to bench star guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher to start the game. Wright also said “If we can win this next game and get some practices, we’ve got a chance to be better. But I don’t know if we’re ready for this next game.” That’s music to the ears of all Saint Mary’s fans. What has happened to the Villanova Wildcats?
- Overall the South Region is exactly what everyone though it would be, which is that its Duke’s region to win. With Baylor and Villanova both struggling against double digit seeds it looks as if the Blue Devils are now the heavy favorites. However, the NCAA Tournament is all about surviving and advancing, one day your team can beat a #14 seed narrowly, the next thing you know they’re in the Final Four (ex: Villanova 2009).
West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)
- It hasn’t been official until today, but now we know Syracuse senior center Arinze Onuaku is definitely out for tomorrow’s opening round game against Vermont and “doubtful” should Syracuse play on Sunday. Freshman center DaShonte Riley will be one of the Orange called on to pick up the slack.
- The #8/#9 matchup in the West Region features a stark contrast in styles, with the uptempo offensive minded Zags facing the slow-it down defensive efficiency leading Florida State squad with both teams vowing not to change their approaches. Florida State has built their identity this season around the defensive end of the court, counting on their ability to stop the opponent to carry them through the dry times on the offensive end.
- Likewise, Tubby Smith’s Minnesota team will rely on its physical play to guide them in their opening round matchup with Xavier on Friday.
- For their part, Xavier knows that while the Gophers present a balanced attack, their job starts with controlling the Minnesota interior players.
- Pitt has built its program on the type of defense that head coach Jamie Dixon and his predecessor Ben Howland have preached, but sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs knows that they’ll need to bring their offense up to speed in order to live up to the expectations that have been built by the program’s success. But their opponent isn’t afraid of them, and after having won 20 of their last 21 Oakland is only interested in a win.
- Game times for Saturday are set, with Butler/Murray State starting at 3:20pm EDT and BYU/Kansas State tipping off at 8:10pm EDT.
East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)
- Kentucky started out hot early and crushed East Tennessee State by 29. Eric Bledsoe scored a team-high 29 points.
- In the battle of two teams that seemed to not want to win the game, Wake Forest outlasted ‘schizophrenic’ Texas on Ish Smith’s jumper after UT missed four FTs down the stretch.
- A very good profile from USA Today on #5 Temple’s Juan Fernandez.
- Cornell’s Jeff Foote is the major reason the Big Red have a chance to be the first Ivy team to win in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.
- Wisconsin will face Wofford who is making their first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wall Street Journal shows the disparity in the schools, Wisconsin has a student body 20 times as large as theirs.
- Washington’s run is set to continue as Quincy Pondexter’s bank shot with 1.7 seconds left gave the Huskies a 2-point win over Marquette. The Big East went 1-3 in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
- New Mexico barely survived tonight against Montana in San Jose to round out Thursday’s games. It was a sad ending to last week’s hero Anthony Johnson’s career (1-12 FGs), but Dairese Gary deserves all the credit for locking him up tonight.
- Missouri’s Kim English is in a shooting slump. However, English is working on it. “If I miss one, I’m due to make the second one,” English told the Columbia Daily Tribune. “If I miss the second one, then the third one’s good. If miss the third one, I know I’m going to make the fourth one. If I miss the fourth one, the fifth one’s got to be good.”
- Clemson fans should get used to the facts about the Tigers.
- West Virginia profiles Da’Sean Butler who is “Mr. Clutch” according to USA Today.
- Morgan State took to the stage on Thursday in their press conference declaring they are ready for the Mountaineers’ physical style.
*Midwest Region Notes will return tomorrow.