NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.19.15

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 19th, 2015


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.

Midwest Region

  • Unsurprisingly, President Obama went with undefeated Kentucky to win it all this year.
  • Facing a tough matchup in Cincinnati, Purdue hopes that its many quasi-elimination games this season will help prepare them for the tournament. “There’s no substitute for the actual thing,” [coach Matt] Painter said. “We have a lot of guys outside of one that hasn’t been here. You still have to play hard. You still have to produce.”

    Even POTUS had to go with undefeated Kentucky this year. (ESPN)

    Even POTUS had to go with undefeated Kentucky this year. (ESPN)

  • Here’s a heartwarming story of how Cincinnati coach Mick Croninindirectly” saved a Minnesota man’s life. After a UC fan saw Coach Cronin take a medical leave for “indescribable” headaches, he was able to diagnose his own illness when the same thing happened to him.
  • Everyone is basically penciling Kentucky into the Final Four, but could West Virginia have something to say about it? With a fast pace and a defense that forces a lot of turnovers, the Mountaineers, at the very least, have a puncher’s chance to make a run.
  • Perhaps no 12-seed has a better shot at pulling the classic upset than Buffalo. With solid efficiency numbers and MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss, the Bulls are legit.
  • After years of frustration, Dez Wells finally has his shot at the NCAA Tournament. Known for his vocal leadership, win or lose, Wells is certain to go out with a bang.
  • With a huge front court, headed by 6’9” 285 lbs Cameron Ridley, Texas will look to “bully” Butler down low. “We need to take advantage of it,” Ridley said. “People should be intimidated to come into the paint against us.”
  • With this disadvantage on the front line, Butler will most likely rely heavily on three ball to best Texas.
  • In what should be a competitive 7-10 game, Indiana and Wichita State will go at each other with the same strength: guard play. While the Hoosiers have Yogi Ferrell, who can absolutely bomb the three ball, the Shockers counter with a trio of Fred Van Fleet, Tekele Cotton, and Ron Baker.
  • Unfortunately for Jayhawks, they will be without freshman sensation Cliff Alexander for at least their first two NCAA Tournament games. Alexander is still awaiting a decision from the NCAA as it investigates eligibility concerns.

West Region

Frank Kaminsky might be the most important player in this tournament. (Reuters)

Frank Kaminsky might be the most important player in this tournament. (Reuters)

  • Wisconsin has played outstanding basketball all season, but do the Badgers have the fire power to challenge Kentucky? Wisconsin may not have the athletes, but it does have Frank Kaminsky, favorite (and voted on by some sources) to win National Player of the Year.
  • How does Oregon coach Dana Altman‘s contract correlate with Oregon’s cost of room and board? It’s pretty hefty, if you ask me.
  • Arkansas will come in as a favorite against Wofford, but the Razorbacks still aren’t completely familiar with the Terriers. Instead, Mike Anderson has his team focused on themselves. “Coach just always tries to preach we aren’t worried about the other team, like, our team is just worried about what we do,” forward Bobby Portis noted.
  • A three-year starter, Spencer Collins is looking to lead Wofford to its first Tourney victory in program history.
  • A Duke alumnus, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is quite familiar with North Carolina.

  • After a historic comeback against BYU, Ole Miss will need to find a “second wind” if it wants to compete against Xavier. “We had to expend so much energy in order to come back,” [coach Andy] Kennedy said. “So we want to make sure our guys are rested physically because we know the challenge Xavier is going to present.”
  • Though he doesn’t have any eligibility, former Baylor star Isaiah Austin is still imposing his presence on the Bears. Among other things such as motivational speaking, Austin has spent much of his time around Baylor practices, games, and film sessions.
  • VCU coach Shaka Smart almost certainly could have left for a high-major job right now, but here he shares his experience of his own college coach leaving him after his freshman year. “That experience [of his coach leaving] had an influence in my life in general,” Smart said. “That was one of the worst days in my life, to be honest with you. It really shook me up.”
  • Ohio State may have a prestigious basketball program, but coach Thad Matta is trying to get a chip on his players’ shoulders. “If we roll into this game and say, ‘Hey, we’re Ohio State. We’re here,’ we’ll be home quick,” Matta said this week. “Don’t just show up and expect to win the basketball game. You’re not favored in this basketball game. You’re not supposed to win this basketball game. Let’s have this mentality as we go into it.”
  • Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is supremely talented, but it’s his effort on the defensive end that sets him apart from other talented players. “I told him when he first got here, ‘You can be the best defender in the country,’” [former Wildcat Nick] Johnson said. “He had length and athleticism. He just needed the mindset.”

East Region

  • We’ve never seen a 16-seed upset a 1-seed, but Villanova’s Darrun Hilliard isn’t taking Lafayette lightly. “They’re a great shooting team,” Hilliard said. “Their style is set up to get 3-point shots, and they knock them down. Their style is not that much different than us. They share the ball and are always on the attack.”
  • NC State has a veteran team with NCAA Tournament experience, but that doesn’t mean a younger LSU will go down easily.
  • From six sub-96 RPI losses to nearly beating Kentucky, LSU has been erratic all season long. The question is, which LSU team will show up?
  • Whether a Hawkeye, a Cyclone, or a fan of another team, Andrew Logue argues that all Iowans should be pulling for Northern Iowa this March.

    Darrun Hilliard and the Wildcats are the team to beat in the East. (AP)

    Darrun Hilliard and the Wildcats are the team to beat in the East. (AP)

  • While many seem skeptical about this year’s Louisville team – especially after the dismissal of Chris Jones – Jeff Greer sees some “shades of 2012.” He may not be alone. “They’re still a formidable team,” [Jay] Bilas said. “They’re a legit contender.”
  • After winning a thriller at home in the First Four, there’s no doubt Dayton will continue to enjoy its status as a consistent Tourney host.
  • With Harvard and Northeastern as long shots to get past the first round, is Providence the “New England Darling” of March Madness? Eric Wilbur seems to think so.
  • Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield isn’t concerned about his recent struggles. I’ve had great looks,” Hield said. “I just haven’t knocked them down. I take what the defense gives me. I’ve just got to make shots.”
  • Coaches are often open to sharing strategy, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is taking full advantage of it. An assistant on Izzo’s staff for four seasons, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory “gave him [Izzo] everything.” Izzo may just want to take notes: Gregory is a perfect 4-0 against Mark Fox and Georgia.
  • Belmont coach Rick Byrd has a self-proclaimed admiration for Virginia coach Tony Bennett. Lauded for doing less with more, so to speak, Bennett received some high praise from Byrd: “I don’t think there’s anybody that goes about running their program any better than Tony Bennett does.”

South Region

  • Los Angeles Clippers JJ Redick, Austin Rivers, and Dahantay Jones had great things to say in support in their alma mater: Duke.
  • San Diego State is known for having an elite defense, but in order to “take the next step,” the Aztecs need to start scoring.
  • Stephen F. Austin made a name for itself last year, but the Lumberjacks are looking to outdo themselves this season.
  • Despite experiencing a couple setbacks towards the end of the regular season, Utah is excited to be back in the NCAA Tournament. “It’s just exciting,” said [athletic director Chris] Hill. “It’s just fun to hang out with them, be in the same hotel, watch them go to eat and just say hello. It’s really been fun to be a part of it.”

    Jim Hayford sure doesn't lack confidence. (The Spokesman-Review)

    Jim Hayford sure doesn’t lack confidence. (The Spokesman-Review)

  • Nobody is more confident in Eastern Washington than its coach Jim Hayford. I’ll let the words speak for themselves: “We’re going to win, talk again, Jim.” That looks like a guarantee to me!
  • With a history of going down early to double digit seeds, Georgetown is looking to “change its reputation.” Despite this history, coach John Thompson III isn’t too concerned about the past. “In many ways, you can take isolated instances, isolated years, and look at them,” Thompson said. “Okay, this is why this happened. This is why this didn’t happen. I think introspection is good. And so we’ve gone through introspection. We’ve without a doubt looked at how things were done or weren’t done.”
  • SMU may not be as talented, but UCLA sees shades of conference foe Arizona in the Mustangs. “They’re very long, they’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said. “We’re really comparing them to Arizona, to be honest with you.”
  • SMU coach Larry Brown is one of the all time greats, so when you decide to play for him, you know he’s going to demand a lot from you. Just ask SMU point guard Nic Moore. “Stressful,” Moore said of playing for Larry Brown. “It’s a hard job, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. He wants the best from me, and to have somebody like that in my life, I have to respect him.”
  • With both a likable personality and an exciting style of play, should you ever root against Iowa State and Fred Hoiberg?
  • Though North Dakota State has pulled an upset or two in the past, 2015 may not be the Bison’s year. In fact, that’s what the mathematicians up in Fargo are saying.
Griffin Wong (51 Posts)

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