In last night’s opening round games, North Carolina A&T and St. Mary’s both advanced to the Round of 64, and two more games tonight will round out the field. Once again, tonight’s games will get under way at 6:40 PM tonight on truTV — here’s our analysis of tonight’s two games.
#16 LIU Brooklyn vs. #16 James Madison — East Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 6:40 PM ET on truTV.
Night two of the First Four begins with a game that will feature two vastly different style of basketball. LIU Brooklyn loves to play fast but unlike most up-tempo teams, the Blackbirds do not force many turnovers to fuel a transition attack. LIU shoots the ball very well, led by senior forward Jamal Olasewere and junior point guard Jason Brickman (a 46% three-point shooter). Olasewere operates primarily inside the arc but also isn’t afraid to step out and take an occasional triple. Brickman is a terrific assist man, averaging over eight dimes per game. He’s ranked #16 in assist rate nationally but is vulnerable to coughing it up as well, averaging four turnovers a night. Still, his 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio is fantastic. James Madison has to focus on these players defensively along with C.J. Garner, who averages 16 PPG for a team that scores nearly 80 PPG on average. LIU’s offensive statistics are impressive but Jack Perri’s team doesn’t take defense, ahem, very seriously. The problem for James Madison is that it doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well to begin with, so it will have to slow the game down (easier than speeding it up) and limit LIU’s possessions. JMU is led by strong senior forward Rayshawn Goins who, at 6’6” and 266 lbs, is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Goins against Olasewere could be the key match-up in this game. Neither team has a lot of size but Olasewere is giving up about 40 pounds to the burly Duke. In the end, we feel LIU has enough offensive firepower despite its defensive issues to advance and play Indiana on Friday.
The RTC Certified Pick: LIU Brooklyn.
#13 Boise State vs. #13 La Salle – West Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) – 9:10 PM ET on TruTV
These two underdogs will have the attention of the nation all to themselves as they fight to be included in the bulk of the bracket. And this game is definitely one to keep an eye on, as it may be one of the more entertaining contests you’ll see on this first weekend of play. Both teams are guard-dominated, both teams shoot the three regularly and with great proficiency, and both teams will get out in transition when they have the opportunities. For La Salle, the backcourt trio of Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland combine to average 44.9 points and 9.1 assists between them and shoot a collective 37.4% from deep. Meanwhile, Boise’s trio of Anthony Drmic, Derrick Marks and Jeff Elorriaga combine to average 43.9 points, 8.4 assists and a collective 41.8% clip from behind the arc. Those guys go a long way toward cancelling each other out, in which case the game may come down to the frontcourts, where the Broncos have the advantage. While the Explorers are largely ineffective in controlling the glass, Boise is the third-best team in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. Forwards Ryan Watkins and Kenny Buckner are particularly good in that area but it is a full-team effort, as even the guards chip in to clean the glass. In a game where both teams have perimeter players to put the ball in the hoop, the dirty work up front may turn out to be the difference.
The RTC Certified Pick: Boise State