RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.23.10Posted by THager on March 24th, 2010
Each day this week during the regional 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midwest Region (Tom Hager)
- Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson has insisted that his players are handling the added attention well, but it is hard to keep your composure when you walk into a lecture hall and receive a standing ovation, as Ali Farokhmanesh experienced on Monday.
- Many people know that Farokhamnesh transferred to UNI, but most people do not know that UNI, like most other schools, knew about him in high school and passed up on him.
- According to Dan Blank, the key for Michigan State will be to push the ball (something Kansas failed to do when they let Jordan Eglseder score 14 points in 18 minutes). However, given the injuries they have recently sustained, Blank says hastening the pace may not be so easy.
- Ohio State has been criticized for a lack of bench production, but Blank points out that the short bench may benefit the Buckeyes.
- The Buckeyes are underdogs in this game, but Inside Tennessee’s Patrick Gibson reported that the Vols had a solid practice session on Monday. That should come as no surprise, as this week Doug Gottlieb listed Bruce Pearl as one of his top coaches in the country.
West Region (Andrew Murawa)
- Here we are, a couple of days away from the start of the Sweet 16 round and Syracuse is a likely favorite to play in the national championship game in two weeks, a lofty set of expectations that were entirely unlikely four and a half months ago when expectations for the Orange were low, and got even lower with an exhibition loss to LeMoyne.
- While Syracuse is led by a Hall-of-Fame head coach, their opponent in the Sweet 16 has a coach that is younger than Jim Boeheim’s coaching career. Butler head coach Brad Stevens is 33; Boeheim is in his 34th year as the Syracuse coach. Nevertheless, Stevens has his Bulldogs a weekend away from potentially playing in the Final Four down the street from the school’s campus.
- In the other regional semifinal, Xavier will face Kansas State, a matchup between two balanced teams. Xavier head coach Chris Mack sees his Musketeers playing their best offensive basketball of the year, but a key may be their ability to keep their strong offensive rebounding opponent off the glass. Beyond that, the Muskies will need to have answers not only for stars like Jacob Pullen, but also role players like Dominique Sutton.
East Region (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)
- Kentucky is now a 2:1 favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. Cornell coach Steve Donahue talked to ESPN Radio in Chicago. The Big Red’s amazing season has come at a time where there were six suicides on campus. Alumni are getting excited on where they can see the Big Red this week.
- Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has kept on moving forward. Meanwhile West Virginia will be without guard Darryl Bryant who will miss the rest of the tournament with a broken right foot. Still Da’Sean Butler and the Mountaineers remain confident.
- Duke will be confronting its ghosts of Sweet Sixteen past when it tips things off on Friday night against Purdue. The Devils have not made it past this round since 2004, when Luol Deng led Duke to the Final Four. Much of their hopes rest on the continued excellent late season play of Brian Zoubek, who was pretty much given up as a bust for most of his career.
- Purdue’s Matt Painter should be given credit for bringing his team back to the Sweet Sixteen despite dealing with the adversity of losing star Robbie Hummel late in the season. They’ve managed to go 5-2 based on their typical stingy defense, which keeps them in games until the offense comes around.
- St. Mary’s center Omar Samhan and Baylor center Ekpe Udoh may want to consider dueling tweets in addition to their battle on the court on Friday. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s has a history book full of Cinderellas to learn from this week.
- Did you know Samhan has a blog? Mike Miller thinks Samhan could host his own talk show if the whole playing basketball thing doesn’t work out.