NCAA Game Analysis: Second Round, Friday AfternoonPosted by BHayes on March 22nd, 2013
#2 Duke vs. #15 Albany – Midwest Region Second Round (at Philadelphia) – 12:15 PM ET on CBS
Day two of the second round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off in Philadelphia, where #2 seeded Duke will hope to exorcise the demons of a year ago. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, CJ McCollum will not be walking through those Wells Fargo Center doors. This year, making an appearance on the #15 seed line opposite Duke are the Great Danes of Albany. The America East Champs are a middle-of-the-road team on both ends of the floor in regard to overall efficiency, but do have strengths that could prove useful versus the Dookies. The Danes are deep (10 players average 9+ minutes a game), have good size for a low-major, and shoot the three-ball pretty well, hitting 36.4% as a team. All are nice ingredients when preparing for an upset, but Albany’s middling paper resume also makes them appear to be the least dangerous #15 seed in the field. Really though, does it even matter how good the Danes are? After last year’s embarrassing second-round exit, a part of me feels like you could put Louisville as Duke’s #15 seed and there would be no way that Coach K’s team makes that same early departure. Mason Plumlee will be an interior nightmare for Albany, and with Ryan Kelly fully healthy and stretching the floor alongside Seth Curry and Quinn Cook, expect Duke to come out fast, leaving no doubts about their Sunday afternoon plans this time around.
The RTC Certified Pick: Duke
#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Ole Miss – West Regional Second Round (at Kansas City, MO) – 12:40 PM ET on TruTV
When Mississippi completed their run to the SEC title on Sunday with an upset win over Florida, college hoops fans everywhere were rewarded with – or doomed to, depending on your viewpoint – an NCAA Tournament with a Marshall Henderson appearance. The polarizing junior shooting guard of the Rebels has either thrilled or infuriated spectators this season with his brash demeanor and freewheeling style. And who did the Selection Committee reward Ole Miss with as a second round opponent? None other than a Wisconsin team, where brash and freewheeling hotshots go to die. For the second time in as many years (and the fifth time in the last decade), the Badgers are a top-ten team in defensive efficiency, this year third in the nation. Not coincidentally, the Badgers are also holding teams below 30% three-point shooting for the second time in as many seasons, meaning Henderson and Ole Miss are going to find points hard to come by. However, this is also the least efficient Wisconsin offense in the KenPom era, meaning even if the Badgers go out of their way to turn off the water for Henderson, Ole Miss will still likely be within shouting distance deep into the second half. If Andy Kennedy can suck in the Wisconsin defenders with scoring from interior guys like Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner, maybe they can hang around long enough to steal one late. More likely, Wisconsin uglies this one up and advances by a comfortable margin.
The RTC Certified Pick: Wisconsin
#8 NC State vs. #9 Temple — East Region Second Round (at Dayton, OH) — 1:40 PM ET on TBS.
Much will be made about the coaches of these two teams and their performances in the NCAA Tournament. Mark Gottfried, who has faced some questions over the years, is known as an overachiever in tournament play. On the other hand, Fran Dunphy is known as a terrific Xs and Os coach but is someone who has struggled mightily in this event. In an 8/9 game matchup, coaching could come in to play. This game could very well hinge on whether Temple is able to dial up the defense Dunphy was known for 2-3 years ago. NC State has more talent and more offensive firepower than Temple so it is a tall task to begin with. The Owls have been up and down all year but have been playing well of late. They’re scoring the ball much better than they have all year and that has to continue if they are going to knock off NC State. The problem for Temple is this is a team that really doesn’t do anything all that great, except protect the ball. That will be important but NC State is not the type of team that’s going to get up into you and force turnovers. The analysis is rather simple. Temple has to shoot a higher percentage than NC State and get some key stops down the stretch. The Wolfpack don’t necessarily bring it defensively but we feel they have too much firepower for Temple to overcome in this one.
The RTC Certified Pick: NC State.
#2 Miami vs. #15 Pacific – East Region Second Round (at Austin, TX) – 2:10 PM ET on TNT.
Many have said this has been a dream season for Miami. It’s true. The Hurricanes have never been this good but now they have to get down to business. Although Miami fans will likely view this as a very successful season, an early exit from the NCAA Tournament would no doubt leave a sour taste in their collective mouths. Despite being a No. 15 seed, Pacific is not a team to be taken lightly. The Tigers recorded a pair of wins against St. Mary’s and Xavier back in November so they’ve proven they can play with some pretty good teams. Now Miami is obviously the best team Pacific will face all year and the Tigers will have to put forth a strong defensive effort (not usually their strength) and shoot the ball very well from deep. Pacific is a good three point shooting team with senior guard Lorenzo McCloud leading the way. In order to hang with a Miami team that’s very good on both ends of the floor and riding a wave of momentum, Pacific is going to have to make a bunch of threes. That may happen early but don’t expect it to last.
The RTC Certified Pick: Miami.
#7 Creighton vs. #10 Cincinnati – Midwest Region Second Round (at Philadelphia) – 2:45 PM ET on CBS
Teams don’t get much more different than Cincinnati and Creighton. The Bluejays are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, with Wooden award candidate Doug McDermott leading the way. He has also received plenty of help from teammates in his pursuit of ripping nets this season, with Ethan Wragge, Grant Gibbs, and Austin Chatman all joining him in shooting over 40% from three-point range. There may be no more unselfish team in this Tournament, which has made watching the Jays play offense plenty of fun all year. The same cannot be said for Cincinnati. The Bearcats have struggled mightily to score the basketball, especially since Big East play began. Like Creighton, Cincy shoots a bunch of three-pointers (over 37% of their FGA), but unlike the Jays, they make very few of them (31.7% from three, good for 263rd in the nation). Even leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick has suffered through a difficult shooting season, with his 3PT percentage hovering just above 30%. The good news for Bearcat fans is that their team does play some defense (14th in defensive efficiency). They do a great job of defending the three, as opponents have shot just 30% from behind the three-point stripe against Cincy. That stingy defending (especially beyond the arc) is a must for tomorrow, but can the Bearcats create enough offense to get by Creighton? If your eyes have been open for the past two months, you won’t blame me for believing otherwise –McDermott and Creighton look poised to visit the third round for the second consecutive year.
The RTC Certified Pick: Creighton
#4 Kansas State vs. #13 La Salle – West Regional Second Round (at Kansas City, MO) – 3:10 PM ET on TruTV
The Explorers looked terrific Wednesday night in dispatching of Boise State in one of the play-in games, shooting a 74.4 eFG% and getting four scorers in double figures in an impressive offensive display. And today they’ll face a Kansas State team that is the least efficient defensive team since the Jim Woolridge era in the Little Apple. In other words, La Salle’s got a good opportunity to extend their hot shooting, provided they can keep up with all the travel they’ve put in over the last couple weeks. However, they’ll have to deal with the Wildcats’ Rodney Magruder on the defensive end if they have a chance of moving onto the weekend. Partially as a result of playing in Manhattan, Kansas and partially as a result of playing one of the slowest tempos in the nation, Magruder doesn’t get a ton of publicity nationwide, but on a per-possession basis, he’s been one of the nation’s best shooting guards over the past two seasons, scoring the ball, playing great defense and even leading his team in rebounding. While La Salle showed plenty of ability to get their own on Wednesday night, an obvious good matchup for Magruder was not apparent. Certainly, if the Explorers can shoot like they did in their first tourney game, they’ll be fine. But if they return back to earth, they’ll need to out-tough the Wildcats in a low-possession slugfest, K-State’s specialty.
The RTC Certified Pick: Kansas State
#1 Indiana vs. #16 James Madison – East Region Second Round (at Dayton, OH) – 4:10 PM ET on TBS.
Quite simply, this game should not be close. Matt Brady’s team hasn’t played anyone even close to this caliber, never mind a national championship contender. Only one player in the James Madison rotation is over 6’6” tall and he plays just 11 minutes per game. Indiana has matchup advantages at each and every position, not to mention a huge talent advantage. The Hoosiers will look to speed up the game and frustrate a team that doesn’t shoot the ball all that well. Tom Crean and company will be using this game as a warm up for what could be a tough Sunday game against either NC State or Temple. If this one is close, we will be absolutely stunned.
The RTC Certified Pick: Indiana.
#7 Illinois vs. #10 Colorado – East Region Second Round (at Austin, TX) – 4:40 PM ET on TNT.
When looking over the brackets, most people probably point to this one as one of the more unpredictable match-ups. Illinois has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows this year and the Fighting Illini have stumbled down the stretch, losers of four of their last six games heading into the NCAA Tournament. Colorado is a team that never quite got over the hump this season but did enough to win 21 games and safely make it into the field of 68. You have to feel the back courts for both teams will get their points with talented players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson going at it. When the chips are down though, this is a game that could come down to front court play. There, Colorado has an advantage. The Buffaloes have one of the best rebounders in the country in Andre Roberson while Josh Scott has emerged to become a solid contributor in just his freshman season. Colorado would prefer a slower pace than Illinois and having the edge in the paint will help the Buffaloes in that regard. As for Illinois, John Groce doesn’t have the same talent or depth inside the arc. Tyler Griffey is more of a stretch four than anything else and Nnanna Egwu is still quite raw. Unless Illinois can shoot the lights out from deep (only 32.3% on the season) and lock down Colorado’s perimeter, we have a hard time seeing the Illini winning this one.
The RTC Certified Pick: Colorado.