Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region. If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midwest Region (Tom Hager)
- Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson has insisted that his players are handling the added attention well, but it is hard to keep your composure when you walk into a lecture hall and receive a standing ovation, as Ali Farokhmanesh experienced on Monday.
- Many people know that Farokhamnesh transferred to UNI, but most people do not know that UNI, like most other schools, knew about him in high school and passed up on him.
- According to Dan Blank, the key for Michigan State will be to push the ball (something Kansas failed to do when they let Jordan Eglseder score 14 points in 18 minutes). However, given the injuries they have recently sustained, Blank says hastening the pace may not be so easy.
- Ohio State has been criticized for a lack of bench production, but Blank points out that the short bench may benefit the Buckeyes.
- The Buckeyes are underdogs in this game, but Inside Tennessee’s Patrick Gibson reported that the Vols had a solid practice session on Monday. That should come as no surprise, as this week Doug Gottlieb listed Bruce Pearl as one of his top coaches in the country.
West Region (Andrew Murawa)
- Here we are, a couple of days away from the start of the Sweet 16 round and Syracuse is a likely favorite to play in the national championship game in two weeks, a lofty set of expectations that were entirely unlikely four and a half months ago when expectations for the Orange were low, and got even lower with an exhibition loss to LeMoyne.
- While Syracuse is led by a Hall-of-Fame head coach, their opponent in the Sweet 16 has a coach that is younger than Jim Boeheim’s coaching career. Butler head coach Brad Stevens is 33; Boeheim is in his 34th year as the Syracuse coach. Nevertheless, Stevens has his Bulldogs a weekend away from potentially playing in the Final Four down the street from the school’s campus.
- In the other regional semifinal, Xavier will face Kansas State, a matchup between two balanced teams. Xavier head coach Chris Mack sees his Musketeers playing their best offensive basketball of the year, but a key may be their ability to keep their strong offensive rebounding opponent off the glass. Beyond that, the Muskies will need to have answers not only for stars like Jacob Pullen, but also role players like Dominique Sutton.