Breaking Down The Brackets: Round Two
The Midwest region has officially been deemed the “Upset Region”. The first round saw seeds 4,5,6,7, and 8 get knocked out and we will see at least a 12 seed in the Sweet 16 from this region. Louisville and Kansas got out to slow starts but pulled away in the end, while Cleveland State, Arizona, USC, and Michigan State rolled in their games. Siena and Dayton played games that pretty much went down to the wire. Round Two features excellent matchups and we will break them down right now.
1. Louisville vs. 9. Siena
Louisville played a dominating second half to crush Morehead St. while Siena played a tough, double overtime, fight til’ the end. I believe Louisville to continue to come out and run the court against the Bulldogs and Terrance Williams will continue to pace the Cardinals. In order for Siena to have a shot, they will have to continue their balanced style of play and try to shut down Williams and Earl Clark.
12. Arizona vs. 13. Cleveland State
It would be easy to say that Arizona should run away with this game, but after what Cleveland State did to Wake Forest, no one is safe against this team. Yes, Arizona played great in their first round game but Cleveland State dismantled the 4 seeded Demon Deacons, and don’t forget the game before that, they knocked off Butler. I think Arizona takes this one due to their better star potential, but it will definitely come down to the wire.
3. Kansas vs. 11. Dayton
If Dayton plays like they did in Round 1, an upset could be brewing here. Still, I like the Kansas backcourt to take over this game and don’t think Dayton will be able to keep up. Dayton’s keys to the game will be to continue to get Chris Wright touches and try to outrun the Jayhawks. If Kansas gets off to another slow start, it could spell doom this time around.
2. Michigan State vs. 10. USC
USC played very well in their first round game, but don’t expect that same kind of defense to be there when Michigan State rolls around. MSU played very solid defense and I believe they match up very well against the Trojans. While they are one of the hottest teams in the nation, I can’t see Michigan State having a letdown in round 2.
1. UConn vs. 9. Texas A&M
UConn looked like the best number one seed in Round 1, and despite A&M’s 58% shooting from the field, the Huskies should be able to shutdown the Aggies and move to Round 2. I expect big things out of UConn’s starting lineup in Round 2. It will be a test for them as forward Bryan Davis leads a tough A&M squad, but UConn is destined for greatness (check my bracket) and it won’t end here.
4. Washington vs. 5. Purdue
This game will be based entirely on how each team comes out and play. Neither team has a complete talent advantage so whoever establishes themselves will most likely come out on top. I believe the hotter team right now is Purdue, stemming from their Big Ten championship and steady defeat of Northern Iowa. JuJuan Johnson will be important in this one, going up against John Brockman in what should be a solid matchup. Purdue takes it in the end.
3. Missouri vs. 6. Marquette
Once again, expect a big write-up on this one tomorrow but to break it down right now, Marquette just isn’t playing very good basketball. Lazar Hayward showed what he is made of with 26 points but Jerel McNeal looked tired and Wesley Matthews couldn’t hit anything. That may have worked against a slow Utah State team, but Missouri loves to press and will run you to death. If things don’t change quickly for Marquette this one won’t even be close.
2. Memphis vs. 10. Maryland
I am still not very high on Maryland despite their impressive win over a very good Cal team, but did Memphis look bad or what? They sure didn’t get rid of the overrated label on Thursday and will need to play much better against their first power conference opponent in a long time. I think they have the talent to beat a team like Maryland, but will need to step it up later in the tournament.
1. Pittsburgh vs. 8. Oklahoma State
Pitt got a big scare in round one from East Tennessee State, but I’ll consider that their wake-up call. They better be on their game offensively as they face a red-hot Oklahoma State team that loves to run and score. OSU’s defense is a little porous so look for Sam Young and Levance Fields to have big games as Pittsburgh moves on to the Sweet 16.
4. Xavier vs. 12. Wisconsin
Bo Ryan finally beat a higher seeded team in the tournament, but don’t look for him to go 2-2 in this bracket. Xavier played much better than I thought they would and they used their size to their advantage very well. Wisconsin looked pretty good in their victory over FSU, but Florida State really lost it for themselves not capitalizing on some easy buckets. Look for Xavier to use their size and speed as they take down an average Wisconsin team.
3. Villanova vs. 6. UCLA
Just as Pitt did, I think Villanova got their wakeup call against a senior-laced American team. They now face off against a UCLA team that looked less than stellar in their win over VCU that ended up coming down to a last second shot. I look for ‘Nova to shoot early and often and really establish the 3 point line. UCLA will need to run their offense well and work the ball inside to have a shot.
2. Duke vs. 7. Texas
Texas has the potential for an upset in this one based on talent alone, but Duke has played well all year and too many people don’t give them credit because of their past failures in the tournament. This is a very solid team that is playing as disciplined as any other team in the tournament. This game could go either way but I think Duke will take care of the basketball better and is better equipped to play shutdown defense than Texas is.
1. UNC vs. 8. LSU
Here’s to hoping Ty Lawson ends up playing in this one because LSU looked very good in their opening round game. He is expected to play and North Carolina will look to continue their fast paced game like they did in round 1, leading to 101 points. LSU is a very athletic team but I just don’t think they can keep up with a team like North Carolina for 40 minutes.
4. Gonzaga vs. 12. Western Kentucky
This is a very interesting matchup because of Western Kentucky’s play in round 1 against Gonzaga’s early struggles. Unlike Akron, W. Kentucky will put a team away if they jump on them early and Gonzaga will need to be careful not to let that happen. I think Gonzaga will take this game on talent alone, but don’t be surprised to see the Hilltoppers in their second straight Sweet 16.
3. Syracuse vs. 6. Arizona State
Well Temple isn’t playing in this game, and I think Syracuse looked like one of the best teams in the tournament in round one. They got any shot they wanted and played excellent defense against a far less superior team in Stephen F. Austin. This will carry over against Arizona State, a team that didn’t look like world beaters against Temple. Syracuse is starting to play some excellent basketball at just the right time and I look for the Orange to roll in this one.
2. Oklahoma vs. 10. Michigan
Oklahoma won their first round game very quietly while Michigan really struggled to put away the Tigers of Clemson. While Michigan is much better than Morgan State, I think Oklahoma is good enough to ride Blake Griffin to at least the Sweet 16, and should have no problem defeating the Wolverines.
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