NCAA Game Analysis: First Four – Wednesday NightPosted by Walker Carey on March 19th, 2014
The First Round/Opening Round/Play-In Games/Mild Annoyance of the NCAA Tournament continues tonight, getting under way at 6:40 PM tonight on truTV (go ahead, try to remember where that channel is again). From 68 to 16 in the next six days… let’s analyze the next two games this evening.
#16 Cal Poly vs. #16 Texas Southern — Midwest Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 6:40 pm ET on truTV.
Battling for the right to face one-seed Wichita State in St. Louis on Friday are Big West Tournament champion, Cal Poly, and SWAC Tournament champion, Texas Southern. Cal Poly enters Wednesday evening’s action with an uninspiring 13-19 record, but it should be noted that five of those 19 setbacks came on the road against fellow NCAA Tournament teams (at Arizona, at Oregon, at Pittsburgh, at Stanford, and at Delaware). The team caught fire in the Big West Tournament and won three games in three days to punch its ticket to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs are led by senior forward Chris Eversley, who averages a team-best 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. While the Mustangs are 327th in the country in scoring average, their defense is fairly stout, as the opposition only averages 63.4 points per contest – good for 36th nationally. Texas Southern is nearly the polar opposite of Cal Poly, as it has scored well all season but has failed to defend with any regularity. The well-traveled Aaric Murray (formerly of La Salle and West Virginia) leads the way for the similarly well-traveled Mike Davis (formerly of Indiana and UAB) and the Tigers. Murray averages 21.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and will create a significant match-up problem for the Mustangs on the interior. Look for Murray to lead the way for Texas Southern, as it will advance to battle #1 seed Wichita State on Friday.
The RTC Certified Pick: Texas Southern
#11 Iowa vs. #11 Tennessee— Midwest First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 9:10 pm ET on truTV.
Iowa and Tennessee enter Wednesday evening’s clash after finishing their seasons at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The Hawkeyes have lost six of their last seven games, culminating with a troubling effort in a 67-62 loss to an undermanned Northwestern squad in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. By contrast, the Volunteers needed to finish the season well to even be in this situation and they won five of their last six. In that lone loss, they pushed #1 Florida hard all game long before succumbing in the final minutes. Much like the Cal Poly/Texas Southern match-up, the two teams in Wednesday’s nightcap play differing styles. Fran McCaffery‘s squad is an elite offensive team that averages 82 points per game, while Cuonzo Martin‘s team prides itself on defense and allows just 61.1 points per contest. What this game will likely come down to is which team can do better in its weaker category. Since most of Iowa’s late season struggles can be attributed to poor defense, it would be reasonable to think that Tennessee’s offense has a better chance of being the game-breaker than Iowa’s defense. Expect Tennessee guard Jordan McRae and forward Jarnell Stokes to have productive games and for the Volunteers to get by Iowa to advance to play #6 seed Massachusetts in Raleigh on Friday.
The RTC Certified Pick: Tennessee