Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament Midwest Round of 32 Game Breakdowns

Midwest Regional Round of 32 Breakdown


#1 Kentucky vs. #8 Cincinnati (Louisville, Kentucky)

Kentucky did what they were supposed to do in the first round. Sure, they started a little slow, with the #16 seed Hampton Pirates scoring a few buckets early to get the crowd involved. But in the end, Kentucky’s depth was just too much for the small team from the MEAC to handle. Kentucky won by 23 points (79-56) while shooting 46% from the field and 30% from downtown. More importantly, they held the Pirates to 28.8% shooting from the field and only 25% from behind the arc. Towns led the way with 21 points and 11 boards, but there were three other Wildcats in double digits as well (Trey Lyles, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis). Although the Wildcats looked close to unbeatable in the first round, this matchup against Cincinnati should be a little tougher. The Bearcats faced a very formidable Purdue Boilermakers team in the first round, but were able to escape with a one point win in OT thanks to sophomore guard Troy Caupain’s heroics. The young gun hit a layup to force OT, then hit a couple clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the game. But, the biggest part of the Purdue game was the play by backup center Coreontae DeBerry. The junior, who averages 4 points and 2 boards per contest, had to play extensive minutes in this one because of starting PF Octavius Ellis’s flagrant two ejection. He scored a career high 13 points to go along with two rebounds and two blocks. Obviously, Ellis will be back for this game, but its good reassurance for them to have a capable center behind him. Cincinnati is a talented team, but they don’t have the shooting or perimeter defense to stop the Wildcats.

#5 West Virginia vs. #4 Maryland (Columbus, Ohio)

Two power conference teams, going up against teams from the MAC and Horizon League, respectively. How much did these two squads combine to beat their opponents? 20 points? 30? 40? Try 9. WVU was able to knock off a solid Buffalo team by 6 in their opening round matchup, while Maryland struggled with Valpo all the way down to the final whistle, barely clipping them by three. What happens when the two teams meet up? One heck of a round of 32 matchup. On paper, these two teams match up really well. West Virginia is a more balanced team, with a nice mix of formidable bigs and capable guards. Maryland, on the other hand, is guard heavy, with Dez Wells and Melo Trimble combining for over 30 points per game. Nothing changed in the Terps first outing. Wells and Trimble combined for 28 of the teams 65 points. Usually, this would be fine because Richaud Pack and Jake Layman would contribute a few as well. This was not the case. Layman and Pack combined for just 4 points on 0-3 shooting from the field. How did they win? Freshman wingman Jared Nickens, a player that averages just 6.1 points on the year, came up huge. He scored 14 points to go along with 4 threes and a few rebounds. He probably won’t have to score in double digits each night for this team to have success, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. If this was going on first round performances only, I’d probably take WVU. The Mountaineers played a better team, and won by a larger margin. More importantly, they did it with one of their best players, big man Jonathan Holton, fouling out early in the game. He finished with 0 points and a rebound in just 9 minutes of action. For a guy that averages 7.5 ppg and 5.8 rpg, that’s simply not going to cut it moving forward in the tournament. WVU owns the paint in this one, but don’t underestimate the Terps ability to draw contact, and drill threes (37.4%).

#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Butler (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Butler played a great game against one of the most athletic, long, and underrated teams in the tournament in the first round, knocking off the Longhorns by 8 points. On paper, Texas played a better game. They shot a better percentage then Butler (34% opposed to 33.3%), and outrebounded the Dogs by 13 rebounds (41-28). How did they possibly lose? The Bulldogs defense stepped up in a big way. Butler forced 15 turnovers, while only giving up the ball 5 times. That’s a nod to both head coach Chris Holtmann, and the player’s tenacity and drive to win. Kellen Dunham, the team’s leading scorer, once again played hero in this one. He was the only Bulldog in double figures (20 points), scoring over a third of the teams overall points (56). Another key player was big man Kameron Woods. The senior big isn’t always a “sexy” player, per say, but his ability to rebound (9.8 boards per game), and hit shots at a high rate (50.9%) is a huge boost for a guard heavy team. That was all on display in this game. He shot 2-3 from the field and 5-8 from the line. Good for 9 points and 9 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. It wasn’t a flawless victory by any means, but they held a powerful and athletic Longhorns team to just 48 points in 40 minutes, not an easy feat. As for Notre Dame, they didn’t look great in their first round matchup against the CAA representative: the Northeastern Huskies. With about 10 minutes left in this one, it looked like the Irish finally locked it up. They held a double digit lead, and the Huskies were struggling to find a scorer. However, the Irish let their guard down, and Notre Dame let Northeastern have the ball with a chance to win within the final minutes. The Huskies coughed it up, ending the comeback attempt. Big man Zach Auguste had a huge game, going for 25 points and 5 boards in just 27 minutes of action. All-ACC first team guard Jerian Grant also contributed his normal 17 points and 5 assists. For Butler to win this game, they’ll need to hit threes, and a lot of them. The Bulldogs shoot 35.7% as a team, but are near unbeatable when they hit over 10 a game. If Notre Dame comes out sluggish in this one, like they did against Northeastern, there is no way they knock off an underappreciated Butler squad who are hungry for a Sweet 16 appearance.

#7 Wichita State vs. #2 Kansas (Omaha, Nebraska)

 Easily the best game of this region, and one of the best of the round of 32, is this interstate clash between the #7 seed Wichita State Shockers and the #2 seed Kansas Jayhawks. Wichita didn’t play a great game against Indiana, and were fortunate to escape with a win. Fred VanVleet exploded for 27 points and 4 assists. What made this performance even more impressive was that he hit 0 of his 2 three point attempts, meaning he simply dominated in the paint. He went 9-10 from the line, and 9-18 from the field. Ron Baker had a terrible shooting day (3-13 from the field, 0-5 from three), but was still able to contribute double digit points (15) and 5 boards. Wichita State was simply destroyed from outside the arc. Indiana hit 11 of their 22 three point attempts (50%), while Wichita hit just 2 of their 13. The fact that they were able to win is both a testament to the Shockers perseverance, and a total lapse by the Indiana players and coach Tom Crean. But like any good team, the Shockers hit 29 of their 34 free throw attempts, a simply astounding number. Even though they won, they’ll need more help from Tekele Cotton (9 points) and Darius Carter (9 points) if they hope to knock off the #2 seed Jayhawks. Kansas, on the other hand, looked rock solid in their opening round game. Granted, New Mexico State is no Indiana. Still, 54% shooting from the field and 9-13 shooting from behind the arc is impressive against any team. Add 16 assists and a plus 7 in the rebounding category, and you got yourself a nice recipe for success. They were heavily favored to beat NM State by a large margin, and that’s exactly what they did. In the two years Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet have been with the Shockers, they’ve done a lot of things. They’ve gone undefeated, went to a final four, and have simply dominated the MVC. One thing they have yet to do, however, is knock off interstate powerhouse Kansas. Wichita has always been seen as a “little brother” to the Jayhawks, but now it’s time to see if Kansas can back it up. Kansas should own the paint in this one, but if Wichita catches fire from behind the arc (35.8%), they should be able to win this one. If you’re going to watch only one game from this region, this should undoubtedly be the one.


Midwest Regional Overview


East Regional Overview

East Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns


West Regional Overview

West Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central