Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament West Round of 64 Game Breakdowns

West Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


#1 Wisconsin vs. #16 Coastal Carolina (Omaha, Nebraska)

It likely came down to the overtime period of the Big Ten tournament to determine whether or not the Wisconsin Badgers would get a number-one seed. Even if it had lost that one though, Wisconsin is still one of the elite teams. Overcoming the injury to lead guard Traevon Jackson, the Badgers win on the offensive end behind Frank Kamisky, Nigel Hayes and company. They are also the nation’s top team in limiting turnovers, getting the most out of each and every possession. None of this is great news for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers win with their rebounding and by holding opponents to poor shooting nights. They also like to play faster on the offensive side. It will be hard for Coastal Carolina to force this game into its desired tempo on either end, let alone both.


#8 Oregon vs. #9 Oklahoma State (Omaha, Nebraska)

Things didn’t start out well for the Oregon Ducks this season, but they played their way into the NCAA Tournament nonetheless. The Ducks only lost three times during the season’s final two months, and two of those three losses came against Arizona. Oregon is led and carried by senior guard Joseph Young, a 20-point scorer who shoots it pretty well from all over the court. He has some help on the offensive end as U of O definitely needs to outscore an opponent to advance. That makes for an interesting matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. OSU plays almost the opposite, having shown the ability to lock teams down on defense, but struggle to put up buckets. With active hands forcing turnovers and blocking shots, Oklahoma State opponents barely shoot 40 percent from the floor. The only player who has been there to consistently get the Cowboys into the 60s on offense has been Le’Bryan Nash. The highly touted and highly criticized prospect finally put together a full season in his senior year.


#5 Arkansas vs. #12 Wofford (Jacksonville, Florida)

Arkansas was solidly the second-best SEC team this season in the same way that Frank Stallone is definitely the second-best Stallone brother. The Razorbacks can go nine deep but are led by power forward Bobby Portis and guard Michael Qualls. The two combined to average 33 points and 14 rebounds per game this season. They are going to create matchup problems for the undersized Wofford Terriers. Wofford has a bit of length but plays smaller than it is, relying on limiting good shots rather than altering opponents’ attempts. The leader on both ends for the Terriers is Karl Cochran, although they share and distribute the load well offensively. All five starters averaged between seven and 14 points per game this year. If Wofford is to pull a 12-5 upset in round two, it will need to make Arkansas uncomfortable. The Razorbacks’ top-10 scoring offense against Wofford’s top-25 scoring defense is a battle that favors the big-six conference team on paper.


#4 North Carolina vs. #13 Harvard (Jacksonville, Florida)

The Harvard Crimson reached the NCAA Tournament through an Ivy League play-in game, a trickier path than many expected prior to the season. Nevertheless, Harvard reached its objective through defensive intensity and inside scoring. Team-leader Wesley Saunders was a difference maker on both ends and was the only double-digit scorer this year for the Crimson. This tournament-tested team will have its hands full with an opponent who has similar strengths and weaknesses but is simply better. North Carolina has had its own share of disappointment through parts of this season. It got things together for a nice ACC tournament run but ultimately fell short of that title. The Tar Heels win by dominating folks inside. Thanks to Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and others, they are the nation’s top team in two-point field goals and are an elite offensive-rebounding club. Conversely, there are few three-point threats on Carolina, especially when Marcus Paige has an off night. Despite a contradictory reputation, Harvard is similar in its desire to score within the arc. It will have trouble doing so among the trees of UNC.


#6 Xavier vs. #11 BYU / Mississippi (Jacksonville, Florida)

It is a bit odd to find a 9-9 Big East team who lost to Villanova all three times the two faced each other receive a hefty six seed in the tournament. The Xavier Musketeers will face off against what the committee deemed to be one of the last eight schools in the field to boot. This reward goes to a high-powered offensive club who had some good wins but also some suspect losses this season. Freshman Trevon Bluiett and senior Matt Stainbrook have led Xavier on its up-and-down campaign. Xavier is usually in every game, but it also keeps its opponent in every game. This is good news for whoever wins the round-one matchup between BYU and Mississippi. If the Cougars advance, look out for a wild show with each team’s score possibly in the 80s. BYU pours in baskets thanks to a 46.6 team field-goal percentage and nearly nine threes per contest. It also excels from the foul line, and the whole procedure is run by one of the premiere scorers in the country, guard Tyler Haws. If Mississippi is the one to advance past round one, its game against Xavier might not be as fun for the cameras, but Ole Miss has perhaps the highest upside of any of these three teams. The Rebels have some great wins this year against the likes of Cincinnati, Oregon and Arkansas, even taking Kentucky to overtime before losing by three. Like both Xavier and BYU, they’ve also played poorly for stretches, namely the season’s final month. If the shots are falling for Mississippi though, this is the best team of this trio despite what the rankings imply.


#3 Baylor vs. #14 Georgia State (Jacksonville, Florida)

Gone are the days of the Baylor Bears underachieving with big names on their roster. This year’s club is different. The elite NBA prospects aren’t around this season, but the team has an identity to overcome that. Rico Gathers and Royce O’Neale lead a group that crashes the boards with authority and almost thrives on a missed shot. Taurean Prince has also been a huge asset for the Bears off the bench. Baylor may have drawn a short straw here though by having to face a scary-good 14-seed in the Georgia State Panthers. Don’t let the 38 points in the Sun Belt championship fool you, and don’t be thrown off by the mid-major label. This is a team of ballers. Ryan Harrow (assuming he’s healthy for the tournament) is a 19 PPG scorer who shoots 50 percent from the floor and was originally a member of the Kentucky Wildcats. Kevin Ware scored 18 in that aforementioned title game and was originally a member of the Louisville Cardinals. And R.J. Hunter might just be the best of the three, a lethal scorer averaging over 20 per game. Each team does what the other team can’t, meaning this outcome could flip on just a few plays throughout the game.


#7 VCU vs. #10 Ohio State (Portland, Oregon)

VCU didn’t start the year the way it wanted to, losing three of its first eight games, but it sure finished things off well with a run to the A-10 title. As in past years, the Rams rely on defensive scheme and intensity to force victories out of the hands of their opponents. Lead trouble-maker Briante Weber is out, but the rest of the Rams have filled the void as best they can. VCU still finished as the number-two team in the country in steals. Of course, not much else went smoothly before the team’s conference tournament run. Other than imposing guard Treveon Graham, VCU struggles to get baskets. And while they take a lot of threes, the Rams don’t make a lot of threes, nor can they be relied upon to hit free throws…which all makes for a fascinating game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have their own havoc defense to be proud of. Averaging nearly eight steals per game and over five blocks per game, OSU makes things difficult for opposing offenses. The difference is when it has the ball. Ohio State is a good shooting team led by a special talent in freshman point guard D’Angelo Russell. VCU would normally feast on a freshman point guard come tournament time. This will be a great test of just how good Russell is.


#2 Arizona vs. #15 Texas Southern (Portland, Oregon)

There was an argument to be made for the Arizona Wildcats being a number-one seed in the tournament. They only lost three times all year, all coming on the road. They have an absolutely suffocating defense that, in years without the historically great Kentucky and Virginia seasons, would be talked about much more often. They won the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament. And, unlike last year, they’re healthy in March. It seems like everyone in Arizona’s eight-man rotation has a role and executes that role. For its opponent, Texas Southern, the statistics aren’t there to backup an upset win, but there is regular-season evidence to stake that claim on. The Tigers beat Michigan State early this year and beat Kansas State just a week later. They also went 16-2 and dominated their conference. Unfortunately, Texas Southern was just 6-10 out of conference. Making matters worse, Arizona is much better than either Michigan State or Kansas State. Leading-scorer Madarious Gibbs and company put together a stellar campaign this season which is likely to end in its first NCAA tournament game.


West Regional Overview


Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central