Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament East Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns


East Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns


#1 North Carolina vs. #9 Providence

To no one’s surprise, the North Carolina Tar Heels advance past the 16 seed and into the second round. However, North Carolina held a slim one-point lead at halftime before blowing out Florida Gulf Coast in the second half thanks to a 20-0 fast-break point advantage. For the Providence Friars, a lackluster effort in their first half wasn’t a problem; it was foul trouble to their best player, Kris Dunn, and a poor shooting night from Ben Bentil (7-of-21 from the floor). Providence needed some luck and some great execution at the very end to escape with a victory over USC.


UNC should have less of a problem getting up for this Round of 32 contest. It will have trouble dealing with Dunn on the outside with its smaller starting guards of Marcus Paige and Joel Berry. Paige is deemed the best perimeter defender on the team, so he may draw the assignment. That will leave the larger offensive responsibility on the paint players, where the Tar Heels should have the edge on Providence, as they do on pretty much every team in the country. Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks, the team’s top two power forwards, combined for 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting against FGCU. As always seems to be the case, if Carolina plays at full effort and executes, it will advance. If the Heels come out slow and need to rely on outside shots to get back in it, trouble will follow.


#4 Kentucky vs. #5 Indiana

This is the East regional matchup everyone wanted and was hoping for. Both the Indiana Hoosiers and Kentucky Wildcats, respectively under-seeded by the tournament committee, easily vanquished their round-one opponent. Neither game was ever in doubt. That means both teams enter this battle playing well and confident.


Although each team has respectable and useful big men, this is going to come down to the backcourts. Indiana has one of the best shooting backcourts in the country and really shoots it well one through five. The engine is point guard Yogi Ferrell, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists in round one against Chattanooga. Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft went a combined 7-of-12 from three in that game, which makes Indiana so difficult to defeat. Kentucky offers similar problems to opponents when defending its guards. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are flat-out the best backcourt combo in the country. They can score at will, pass around the arc and defend at an elite level. Stony Brook’s Carson Puriefoy was held to 3-of-17 shooting from the floor in round one by the UK backcourt defense.


If SEC Defensive Player of the Year Ulis can contain Ferrell, the Hoosiers will struggle to run their offense. Either way, Ferrell will need lots of help from his teammates to overcome the Wildcats’ talent.


#6 Notre Dame vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish needed a hefty second-half comeback to traverse past the Michigan Wolverines in the first round. Zach Auguste was held pretty much in check, attempting only five field goals all game long. Notre Dame actually used the outside shot, Michigan’s forte, to take down the Wolverines. It now faces the 14-seed SFA.


It may have been a surprising outcome in the bracket, but Stephen F. Austin’s win over West Virginia wasn’t surprising if you watched the contest. SFA simply played West Virginia’s game and played it better. It forced 22 turnovers and outscored the Mountaineers 29 to four off turnovers. Thomas Walkup was far and away the best player on the floor as well. He finished with 33 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and went 19-of-20 from the foul line.


In the Round of 32, the Lumberjacks seem best prepared to advance. They proved they were better at forcing turnovers and handling the ball than West Virginia. They were also superior to Notre Dame on the boards and from behind the arc all season. Zach Auguste can give his team a great chance if he plays like the best player on the floor. However, Walkup is just as likely to do the same for his club.


#2 Xavier vs. #7 Wisconsin

The Xavier Musketeers held serve and came away with a steady victory in the first round. Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy got his double-double but had no help from the rest of the roster. As per the script, Xavier dominated the paint and the glass.


Wisconsin’s win over Pittsburgh was about as ugly as it can get. Just as predicted, both teams played the slow down, grind out game yet couldn’t get quality shots. Wisconsin had 16 points at half, and the two teams combined for a NCAA Tournament record low (since the year 2000) 90 total points. The Badgers shot 32 percent from the floor and 21 percent from three. Nigel Hayes went 3-of-17 from the field. Let us never speak of this game again.


When Xavier prepares to face Wisconsin in the Round of 32, it can do the same thing it’s always done. It would be surprising to see the Badgers be much of a hindrance to the Musketeers advancing, although the latter would surely like to get to the foul line more than the four total times it did in the first round game.



East Regional Overview



Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest 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