Men's NCAA Tournament South Region 2nd Round Breakdowns

Men's NCAA Tournament South Region 2nd Round Breakdowns

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 Mississippi Valley State/Western Kentucky
No matter which 16 seed wins their first round match, Kentucky should throttle them in the round of 64. Not only does Kentucky have the huge talent advantage, they will also be playing the game in Kentucky: one of the perks of having the overall number one seed. A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed and they sure don’t make it easy. If this game is closer than people expect, do not read too much into it and just assume a young and inexperienced Wildcats squad may be looking ahead to Iowa State or Connecticut.

#8 Iowa State vs. #9 Connecticut
Iowa State should be kind of upset about this. Last year’s National Champions, the Connecticut Huskies, are conceivably even more talented this year. They struggled with consistency and acclimating new players, as well as coaching vacancies and player suspensions. Yet despite UConn’s trouble in the regular season, they were playing well coming into the NCAA Tournament and are quite terrifying as a 9 seed. Iowa State has had a very pleasantly surprising year under new coach Fred Hoiberg. However, they have to be upset with this draw. It’s not that the Huskies deserved a better seed as they did lose 13 games this season. But that is no consolation to the Cyclones as UConn just might be the most talented 9 seed in tournament history.

#5 Wichita State vs. #12 VCU
Each of these teams has something going for them. The underdog Rams are one of the hottest teams in the country. Winners of 25 of their last 28 games, VCU has gone on a tear all the way through the CAA conference title. They also come into March Madness off the incredible run their school made a season ago. No team has higher confidence in themselves right now than the Rams of VCU. However, their opponent is so efficient on offense it might not matter. There are very few schools who use possessions more effectively than the Wichita State Shockers. With such great shooting numbers, opponents have a hard time playing within themselves when any spurt of mistakes could put the Shockers out of reach. Although State does a good job of spreading the scoring around, two of their best offensive weapons are Joe Ragland and Garrett Stutz. Both men score more than 13 points a game while shooting above 55% from the floor. Ragland’s shooting splits are something to behold by themselves, as he also shoots 49.5% from three and 82% from the line.

#4 Indiana vs. #13 New Mexico State
Indiana has faced some intimidating front lines this season, including Kentucky, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Minnesota. And yet, the New Mexico State Aggies may be the biggest team Indiana has had to battle all year long. With three rotation players standing 6’10” or taller, New Mexico State sucks up rebounds like a vacuum. And the team’s best player and leading rebounder is none of the three. Wendell McKines averages a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds per contest, standing at just 6’6” tall. Of course Indiana has some bodies to match the Aggies, including freshman sensation Cody Zeller. The younger brother of ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller, Cody looks to be even better than Tyler was as an underclassman. Teamed with sharpshooters Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, New Mexico State may be able to control the boards and little else in this game.

#6 UNLV vs. #11 Colorado
If this game was played in January, here would be the game reset: Colorado stinks and UNLV does not. If this game had taken place even just two short weeks ago, the story would have been much the same: Colorado is barely an NIT team; UNLV is comfortably in the NCAA picture. Yet in mid-March, after Colorado’s impressive conference tournament run, and UNLV having taken a bit of a slide since their early 2012 heyday, the story reads a bit differently: Colorado could beat UNLV. It probably won’t happen but there is something to be said for momentum. Colorado won the Pac-12 title. The team that won the Pac-12 regular season, Washington, was the first ever power conference team to have won their regular season and not made the NCAA Tournament. So…the Pac-12 was kind of down this season, in an understatement to rival saying the Big Dance is sort of popular. Yet this should not take away from Colorado’s accomplishment. They still went out and won their conference, playing in do-or-die games every step of the way. UNLV will have to have some smooth practices and come out sharp to avoid the upset.

#3 Baylor vs. #14 South Dakota State
Some fun facts about South Dakota State: (1) they are nicknamed the Jackrabbits; (2) they won the Summit League title for the first time this season, ending Oakland’s attempt at a three-peat; (3) their best player is junior guard Nate Wolters. (4) Wolters led the team in minutes, points, rebounds, assists and steals this season. (5) Wolters will not be enough to prevent South Dakota State from being swallowed up by Baylor’s massive size and length.

Okay, you caught me. That last one is not really a fact, nor the least bit fun. However, Baylor’s front court is no joke. Led by future NBA lottery pick Perry Jones III, and surrounded by Quincys, the senior Acy and the freshman Miller, the Baylor Bears are one of the most talented teams in the country. I can see no reason why South Dakota State should trip them up.

#7 Notre Dame vs. #10 Xavier
In one of the more intriguing second round games, the underachieving, underdog Xavier Musketeers will face the overachieving favorites, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish…if that makes sense. Coming into the year, the predicted fates of these two teams would have been mirror opposites of how they turned out. If Notre Dame was going to make the tournament, it would be as a late at-large choice, garnering a double digit seed. Xavier, meanwhile, would stroll through their conference and receive a high mid-major seed. If this matchup was guaranteed in November, not only would the seeds be flipped, you could have assumed it to be a 6 v. 11 or 5 v. 12 game, with Xavier as the heavy favorite. Nevertheless, here we are. Xavier’s season was rattled by an on-court incident that left them out of sorts and behind the at-large pack. Notre Dame, on the other hand, played surprisingly well once conference play started and revealed themselves as a Big East power behind Jack Cooley and Jerian Grant. How fickle the college basketball landscape can be.

#2 Duke vs. #15 Lehigh
Duke is a weak number two seed. They do not defend well, especially in the back court. They have very spotty inside play and rely too heavily on the three point shot. What they do have though are great shooters, a talented play maker and a great coach. These should be enough to squeeze past Lehigh even if the outside shots aren’t falling. Lehigh relies almost exclusively on the playmaking of junior guard C.J. McCollum. He led the Mountain Hawks in everything this season and won his second conference Player of the Year award. Yet without much help around him, even Duke’s spotty guard defense should be able to control Lehigh. During the season, when Lehigh played any team close to the caliber of Duke, they lost. They simply do not have the bodies to stick with an ACC power like the Blue Devils even if the best player on the floor may be wearing their jersey.


South Regional Overview