NCAA Regional Reset: South Region

Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2012

Kevin Doyle is the NCAA Tournament’s South Region correspondent. 

The South Regional begins Friday night in Atlanta with with Baylor vs. Xavier followed by Kentucky vs. Indiana. Our East Regional Reset and West Regional Reset published Tuesday, while our Midwest Regional Reset published earlier today.Make sure to follow RTCSouthRegion for news and analysis from Atlanta throughout the weekend.

New Favorite: #1 Kentucky (34-2, 16-0 SEC). Nothing new here as Kentucky remains the clear-cut favorite to advance to New Orleans. Big Blue had nothing more than a mere tune-up in its first two games of the Dance getting by Western Kentucky and Iowa State with ease. Although the Cyclones actually were tied with Kentucky in the second half, the game was never in doubt and the Wildcats rolled to a 16-point victory. Next on tap for Cal and his kids: A rematch with the Indiana Hoosiers who handed them their only loss of the regular season. In that game back in December, however, Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones combined for just 10 points — expect a different outcome in round two.

Cat-lanta Will Be Overrun With Blue This Weekend

Horse of Darkness: #10 Xavier (23-12, 10-6 Atlantic 10). X looked down for the count just weeks ago. They never seemed to recover after their brawl against cross-town rival Cincinnati, and limped to a rather pedestrian 10-6 record in the Atlantic 10. Don’t look now, but the Musketeers are getting it together at just the right time. Lest we forget that this was a Top 10 team in December with wins against Vanderbilt, Purdue, and Cincinnati, but Xavier is returning to that early season form. Tu Holloway is playing like the future NBA’er that he is — his miraculous bank shot to propel Xavier to a comeback win against Notre Dame and then his 21 points against Lehigh are telltale signs that his squad is a legitimate threat. It will be no easy task to get past Baylor, but the three-headed monster of Holloway-Lyons-Frease is capable of putting up quite the fight. If Xavier is able to stay within a few possessions down the stretch, there may not be another player in the Tournament whose hands I would want the ball in other than Holloway’s.

Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend): #15 Lehigh 75, #2 Duke 70. Truth be told, there were probably four teams worthy of consideration for this spot as the South Region witnessed four double digit seeds win its first round game — only six other upsets occurred in the entire second round. However, it really is a no-brainer that Lehigh was the biggest shock of the opening weekend. It was common knowledge that Duke’s defense was subpar — especially with the absence of Ryan Kelly from the lineup — and that C.J. McCollum would for all intents and purposes have his standard 20+ point night. But, would this really all add up to the #15 seeded Lehigh Mountain Hawks knocking out the Dukies? Yes, it did. As Coach K said in his postgame presser, C.J. McCollum was the best player on the floor last Friday night, and that was enough to send the Blue Devil faithful that packed the Greensboro Coliseum home shaking their collective heads. Just two nights later, Lehigh jumped out to a 35-20 lead over Xavier and seemed destined to earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen mind you, this is a school that had never won an NCAA Tournament game in its schools history prior to this year — but they could not close the door against the Musketeers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Regional Reset: Midwest Region

Posted by EJacoby on March 21st, 2012

Evan Jacoby is the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

The Midwest Regional begins Friday night in St. Louis with with North Carolina vs. Ohio followed by Kansas vs. NC State. Our East Regional Reset and West Regional Reset published Tuesday, while our South Regional Reset will publish later today.Make sure to follow RTCMWRegion for news and analysis from St. Louis throughout the weekend.

New Favorite: #2 Kansas (29-6, 16-2 Big 12). How do the Jayhawks become the favorite in this region after nearly being upset last round by #10 Purdue, in a game they should have lost? First of all, the regional semifinals and finals are being played in St. Louis, a much closer destination for KU fans than any of the other teams, making for a solid home-court advantage for the #2 seed. But more importantly, the #1 seed just lost its point guard and floor leader to a broken wrist. Kendall Marshall is arguably the most indispensable player to his team in this entire tournament, and North Carolina has no backup for its star PG. This makes Kansas the favorite going forward in the wacky Midwest.

St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome Hosts the Midwest Regional Finals

Horse of Darkness: #11 NC State (24-12, 9-7 ACC). Don’t let the #11 fool you; NC State is an incredibly talented team from the ACC that has the talent, size, and coaching experience to compete with anyone it matches up against. Despite underachieving for much of the season and barely getting into this tournament, the Wolfpack found that perfect match of offensive firepower and collective defense to take down their first two opponents. It won’t be a shock if this team can give Kansas a game on Friday night. NC State used its size inside (Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie) to hold Henry Sims of Georgetown to just four points last round, and they will look to do the same against Thomas Robinson and Kansas this weekend. Should they advance, the Wolfpack are familiar with conference foe UNC and nearly beat the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament, and that was with a healthy Kendall Marshall. NC State is a serious dark horse here, despite facing the regional favorite on Friday.

Biggest Surprise, 1st Weekend: #13 Ohio (29-7, 11-5 MAC). We thought that John Groce’s team had a great matchup in the round of 64 against #4 Michigan, a team that plays a similar perimeter style, but it’s still a huge surprise that the #13 seed took down the Big Ten co-champions in a game that it controlled almost the entire way. D.J. Cooper and company then outplayed #12 South Florida in the second half to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, becoming this year’s Cinderella story as the mid-major, double-digit seed to advance to the second weekend. Now Ohio has to match up with powerhouse #1 North Carolina on Friday, but the Bobcats are on a roll and will try to make magic happen once again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Regional Reset: West Region

Posted by AMurawa on March 20th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the NCAA Tournament’s West Region correspondent.

The West Regional begins Thursday night in Phoenix with Michigan State vs. Louisville followed by Marquette vs. Florida. Our East Regional Reset published earlier today, while our South and Midwest Regional Resets will publish Wednesday. Make sure to follow RTCWestRegion for news and analysis from Phoenix throughout the weekend.

New Favorite:  Michigan State, #1, 28-7. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Nothing has changed in the past week that would make the Spartans any less the favorite in the West, and in fact, the upset of Missouri in the round of 64 only further strengthens Tom Izzo’s odds of making it four-for-four in Final Four trips as a #1 seed. While Draymond Green has been excellent all year, if anything he has stepped his game up even more in the first two rounds of the tournament, and point guard Keith Appling has shown a toughness and an ability to make plays when they’re needed. The Spartans still have a very tough slate ahead of them, but of the teams remaining here, they are the slight favorite to advance to New Orleans.

Downtown Phoenix Hosts This Year's West Regional

Horse of Darkness:  Florida, #7, 24-10. They’re the lowest remaining seed in this region, and they haven’t really beaten anybody of great importance in their first two games, but they’ve beaten those teams with conviction. Their wins over Virginia and Norfolk State have come by an average of 30 points. And while all of their players deserve credit, freshman guard Bradley Beal may be the hottest of them all, not only scoring 14 in each of his games (with three threes mixed in there), but helping out the front line by averaging 10 boards. The Gators are still the underdogs in this region, but they match up well with a Marquette team that doesn’t do a great job of defending the three-point line, and, of course, Billy Donovan has a little bit of experience this deep in the tourney.

Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend):  Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84. This was really the only upset of even major proportions in the first weekend, and boy, was it a doozy. While the Lehigh upset of Duke may have earned more press among casual basketball fans just because of the Blue Devils’ reputation, the Spartan victory over Missouri was even more stunning. Not only was Mizzou a strong two-seed with an argument for a one-seed, Duke was generally considered a pretty weak two-seed. And Lehigh had a strong argument that they deserved a higher seed, while Norfolk State was plenty happy to avoid a 16-seed. In short, not only is the Kyle O’Quinn-led upset of the Tigers the most surprising result in the first weekend of the West region, it is one of the more surprising results in the history of the NCAAA Tournament.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Regional Reset: East Region

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 20th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the NCAA Tournament’s East Region correspondent.

The East Regional begins Thursday night in Boston with Syracuse vs. Wisconsin followed by Ohio State vs. Cincinnati. Our West Regional Reset will published later today, while our South and Midwest Regional Resets will publish Wednesday. Make sure to follow RTCEastRegion for news and analysis from Boston throughout the weekend.

New Favorite: #2 Ohio State (29-7, 13-5 Big Ten). The Buckeyes got by Loyola (MD) and survived a tough matchup against Gonzaga. With Syracuse missing Fab Melo, Ohio State gets the nod as most likely to get to New Orleans in a region where nobody would be stunned if any of the four remaining teams breaks out of the pack.

The TD Banknorth Garden Will Have a Bunch of Orange In It This Weekend

Horse of Darkness: #4 Wisconsin (26-9, 12-6 Big Ten). People doubt Bo Ryan and his program time and time again but the Badgers always seem to overachieve, although by now we should be calling it the Wisconsin Way. Bucky matches up very well with top-seeded Syracuse in the regional semifinals and should be able to keep the Orange in the half court. Should they get by Syracuse, the Badgers will face Cincinnati or Big Ten rival Ohio State in the regional finals. If Wisconsin gets by the ‘Cuse, there’s no reason why it can’t beat the Seminoles or Buckeyes either.

Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend): #6 Cincinnati (26-10, 12-6 Big East). While it isn’t a huge surprise considering Cincinnati won nine of its last 12 games coming into the NCAA Tournament, the Bearcats broke up the chalk party by advancing past Florida State late on Sunday night, the only lower seed to win a game in this region to date. Mick Cronin’s squad plays a physical brand of basketball and features a four-guard offense, allowing Cincinnati to adjust well to different styles of play. UC will take on in-state foe Ohio State on Thursday in Boston.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story