Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament Midwest Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns

Midwest Regional Sweet 16 Game Breakdowns


#1 Kentucky vs. #5 West Virginia (Cleveland, Ohio)

In Sunday’s game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Maryland Terrapins, the Terps shot over 47% from the field (WVU shot 40%), the Terps shot over 42% from behind the arc (WVU shot 36%), the two teams were tied in rebounding (32 each). So how much did the Terps win by? They lost by 10. How is that possible? You might be asking. It’s simple. The Mountaineers defense is a force to be reckoned with. They forced the Terps to turn the ball over 23 times. That is not a typo. Twenty three times. That is 11 more turnovers than their season average of 12. It also didn’t help that big man Devin Williams really broke out. The sophomore averages just over 11 points and 8 boards on the season. Not a bad number, but not elite either. However, in this game, the sophomore Mountaineer chewed up the Turtles inside, going for 16 points and grabbing 10 boards on 5-12 shooting. Although the Mountaineers escaped with a win over a really solid program, it’s about to get a lot tougher. The Wildcats started off a bit slow against Cincinnati in their round of 32 matchup, but eventually pulled away, winning by 13. It was a well balanced attack by the Cats, with 7 players scoring over 5 points. The key for the Mountaineers in this game is simple. In the win against the Terps, big men Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams combined for 28 points and 13 rebounds. That is all well and good, but the key stat to look at in the box score is their minutes played. The two combined for 61 minutes of action and only 4 fouls. Compare that to their season average of 46.4 minutes played and 6.2 fouls, and it’s no surprise that they were able to knock off the Terps. When these two guys are staying out of foul trouble and getting involved on the offensive end, this is a very good basketball team. The Mountaineers will put up a valiant fight, but in the end, Kentucky is just too deep for them to compete for 40 minutes.


#3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Wichita State (Cleveland, Ohio)

I am really looking forward to this game. It may not be stacked with a ton of NBA draft prospects or two exceptionally exciting teams, but this game could very well be the closest in the Sweet 16. That is because of how these teams match up with one another. Neither one of these squads are particularly big. Notre Dame has one big man, Zach Auguste (6-10, 242 Pounds), and Wichita has one big guy, Darius Carter (6-7, 245 Pounds). Other than that, these two teams basically play with four guards. Pat Connaughton (6-5, 214 Pounds) plays the power forward for Notre Dame, while Evan Wessel (6-4, 218 Pounds) mans the inside for the Shockers. If this game was being judged on “difficulty of first two rounds”, the Shockers would be heavily favored. Notre Dame struggled against Northeastern in the first round (won by 4), and then needed OT to knock off an overseeded Butler squad. Wichita, on the other hand, knocked off a very talented Indiana team in the first round, then throttled interstate rival Kansas Sunday by the tune of 78-65. Good news for Shockers fans, Tekele Cotton looked like his old self. In fact, it was the first time since February 11th that Cotton scored over 12 points in a contest (16 against Indiana State). Ron Baker may be the most talented offensive player on this team, and Fred VanVleet may be the most important, but when Cotton is playing well, they go from “very good” to “almost unbeatable”. For Notre Dame to win this game, they’re going to have to start being more selective with their outside shots. This is a team that shot the three exceptionally well in the regular season (39.2%), but have yet to find that stroke in its two tournament games (8-26, 30.7%). Wichita State is a much better team than Butler, even though they were seeded lower by the committee. If Notre Dame shoots lower than 35% from behind the arc in this game, Wichita will snag the upset.

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