NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.26.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 26th, 2014

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

South Region

  • Florida’s offense did anything but impress in its first two games, but senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin kept them afloat.
  • Florida is as versatile of a team as there is left in the Tourney. With no one averaging more the 14 points per game, anyone can pick up the slack offensively, and defense is rarely a question.
  • UCLA may be one of the toughest teams to defend in the country, but the Bruins’ defense is the reason they’re still playing.
  • Air Force veteran and UCLA assistant coach David Grace did not go the traditional route, but he still will find himself on the bench in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • For Dayton, the “continuity” of its coaching staff has been paramount to its success.
  • Brothers Sean and Dayton coach Archie Miller are excited to both be in the Sweet Sixteen. However, the two find themselves in very different positions. Sean has Arizona looking like a title contender, and had this to say about his brother’s team: “With Dayton right now, it’s like icing on the cake every time he wins one. It’s really fun, and the program is just exploding right now.”
  • Stanford has a good shot to make the Elite Eight and maybe the Final Four, but coach Johnny Dawkins needs the Cardinal to keep its head down. “We have to ignore the noise,” Dawkins said. “Everyone around us is going to be happy that we’ve had some success and we’re still moving on, but we can’t focus on that. We have to focus on the task at hand.”
  • With programs like Kentucky and Kansas — which Stanford beat in the round of 32 — riding “1-and-dones,” the Cardinal has done it the old fashioned way, with five juniors and five seniors on its roster.

West Region

  • Is Arizona already getting ahead of itself? The school’s bookstore is already selling Elite Eight shirts.
  • To quote Greg Hansen, Arizona looked “national championship good” this weekend.
  • He’s been their leader all season, and Xavier Thames’ big time play is the reason San Diego State has advanced through two tough games thus far.
  • Aztecs coach Steve Fisher has had success at each of his stops as a coach, and has built San Diego State’s program from the ground up. On Thursday, he’ll have a chance to lead the Aztecs to their first Elite Eight appearance in school history.
  • Very few people knew before two months ago, but Baylor center Isaiah Austin has been blind in his right eye since middle school. He has overcome this injury, and has gone from being unsure about his basketball future to playing in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • Though you probably wouldn’t think so from general perception of the program, Baylor has actually been one of the best NCAA Tournament teams in terms of record since 2008.
  • After really thinking about it, Wisconsin sophomore Sam Dekker realized how great of an accomplishment the Sweet Sixteen is. “You kind of throw around the term ‘Sweet Sixteen’ as just a cliché term,” Dekker said. “When you really think about it, only 16 teams are actually left. That’s not a big number in comparison to the 68 and then however many hundred are in regular D-I basketball.” The Badgers hope to reach the Elite Eight as they take on Baylor on Thursday.
  • With a three-point specialist, athletic big men who can stretch the floor and a suffocating zone defense, Baylor plays like a team Wisconsin just hasn’t faced this year.

East Region

  • Virginia is the #1 seed, but its needs to “play like the underdog” if it wants to get by a dangerous Michigan State team.
  • In order to make the Elite Eight, Virginia cannot focus too much on the name on its opponents’ jerseys. The Cavaliers need to realize that they’re playing this year’s Michigan State team, not “Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves, Steve Smith, and Scott Skiles.”
  • Having studied Virginia on film and coached against Dick Bennett, Tony Bennett’s father, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo knows what to expect on Friday.
  • Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to replace the legendary Jud Heathcote almost two decades ago, but after years of successfully proving his doubters wrong, he’s now out to “prove people right.”
  • Iowa State ended UConn’s season in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but the Cyclones know that this isn’t the same Huskies team that fell in the first round two years ago.
  • Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has great respect for UConn, particularly for Shabazz Napier. He even acknowledged that sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to stop him. According to Hoiberg, “You can’t get frustrated over it, you have to keep playing and keep trusting what you’re trying to do on the defensive end.”
  • UConn can’t wait to return to Madison Square Garden, an arena that guard Ryan Boatright calls “our [UConn’s] second home.”
  • UConn coach Kevin Ollie was faced with the pressure to succeed the man who built UConn into the program it is today. In his first year without sanctions, Ollie is living up to Jim Calhoun’s legacy well beyond expectations.

Midwest Region

  • Though inconsistent throughout the season, freshman twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison have Kentucky looking like a serious national title contender.
  • Kentucky coach John Calipari is often harsh on himself in front of the media, but he may not have to apologize again if the Wildcats can maintain their current level of play.
  • It’s probably not possible to explain how Louisville coach Rick Pitino has never lost a Sweet Sixteen game, so all you can do is admire it.
  • With Kentucky’s stock rising and Louisville’s falling, the Cardinal faithful are nervous about Friday’s Bluegrass match-up.
  • Tennessee was struggling to reach the NCAA Tournament a couple weeks ago, but after an overtime win and two dominating performances in the past week, the Volunteers have created solid buzz around their program going into the Sweet Sixteen.
  • Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin employed the exemplary song “One Shining Moment” throughout the season to inspire his team. Behind inspiration and resiliency, the Volunteers have silenced their doubters.
  • It seems like everyone is giving Tennessee the advantage against Michigan and Jordan Morgan in the post, but don’t sleep on the senior. Morgan held Texas’s Cameron Ridley, 6’9” and 285 lbs, to six points in the last round.
  • Michigan coach John Beilein has done an outstanding job adjusting to the loss of big man Mitch McGary and last year’s guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway. Efficient from the three-point line and dynamic at the guard position, the Wolverines have a great chance to get back to the Final Four.
Griffin Wong (25 Posts)


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