Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns

Midwest Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns
Another year, another Big 12 Title for Kansas. The Jayhawks rode the stellar play of guards Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham to their 13th straight conference title and expect them to do the same in their opening game. Mason and Graham, along with star freshman forward Josh Jackson, do the bulk of the scoring for Kansas, accounting for over 60 percent of the teams points. While that heavy reliance on the trio could be a problem should one of them get in foul trouble, it shouldn’t hinder the Jayhawks in their opener. Both UC Davis and North Carolina Central struggle defending on the perimeter and have allowed opponents to shoot very well from beyond the arc, something that Kansas excels at. Look for Kansas to come out firing and put this game away early. A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed and it isn’t going to happen in this matchup.
Miami and Michigan State come into this game struggling, as both teams have lost three of their last four games. Turnovers have plagued both teams this season and whoever wins this game will be the team that is able to cut down on them. Miami has a trio of guards, Ja’Quan Newton (13.4 ppg), Bruce Brown (11.9 ppg), and Davonte Reed (15 ppg), that will be tasked with just that. All three play big minutes for the Hurricanes, who aren’t particularly deep in the backcourt. They will provide a tough matchup for Michigan State, who lost their top wing player, Eron Harris, to a knee injury just a few weeks ago. Michigan State counters with the freshman duo of forward Miles Bridges (16.7 ppg) and center Nick Ward (13.7 ppg). Bridges and Ward are the Spartans only players taller than 6-foot-6 and will be key if Michigan State is going to win this game. If they play well, Michigan State’s chances are good. If they don’t, the Spartans could be headed home quick.
#5 Iowa State vs. #12 Nevada
Both Iowa State and Nevada opt for a similar style of play, going with a four-guard lineup and looking to spread out the scoring. Both teams have a high scoring offense and shoot it well from deep. Neither team is particularly strong defensively and both are average from the free throw line. Based on the numbers, it seems that both teams are relatively similar, however that is not the case. Iowa State has a serious leg up in the experience column, starting four seniors who have helped lead the Cyclones to a pair of Sweet 16 berths in their careers. Nevada on the other hand has not made the tournament since 2007 and has three sophomores and a freshman among their top seven players. Cyclone point guard Monte Morris leads the country in assists-to-turnover ratio and is a big reason Iowa State is amongst the best at taking care of the basketball. Nevada has the talent to give Iowa State a good opening round test, but look for the Cyclone’s experience to win out in the long run.
#4 Purdue vs. #13 Vermont
Purdue features one of the most complete teams in college basketball. The Boilermakers play tough defense, shoot very well, and have been able to control the boards this season. Leading the way is the big man duo of Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. Vermont will need to focus their attention on the big men, who are Purdue’s two leading scorers. Leave them alone and they will make opposing teams pay in the post. Help too much and they will kick it out to open shooters. Vermont has been a very good defensive team this season, but Purdue is a team unlike any other in the country. Purdue has been plagued by poor shooting in their losses this season and Vermont will need them to have one of those nights to pull off the upset. Swanigan and Haas are likely too much for the Catamounts in this one.
A couple of months ago, Creighton looked to be one of the best teams in the country, but that was before starting point guard Maurice Watson was lost for the season due to injury. The Blue Jays are a much different team now and will have their hands full with Rhode Island’s balanced attack. The Rams feature a solid inside out duo in guard E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, who both average over 14 points per game, and have defended very well as a team this season. Creighton counters with a high scoring attack that features junior guard Marcus Foster (18.3 ppg) and freshman center Justin Patton (13.1 ppg). Both teams struggle mightily from the free throw line, and what looks to have the makings of a close game, whoever can convert their attempts down the stretch will likely come out on top. Rhode Island has a great chance to pull an upset in this one, as Watson was truly irreplaceable for Creighton.
#3 Oregon vs. #14 Iona
This matchup has the makings of a track meet, as both Oregon and Iona like to push the tempo. Junior Dillon Brooks (16.3 ppg) and sophomore Tyler Dorsey (13.3 ppg) lead the way for the Ducks, who feature four players who average double-digit points. The loss of center Chris Boucher is a big blow but likely wont hurt the Ducks in this one. Iona has a balanced offensive attack, featuring six players who average at least nine points per game. That depth will serve in the Gaels in this one, as Oregon isn’t particularly deep. Oregon is coming off an Elite 8 appearance last year and will rely on that tournament experience to get past Iona in the opener.
Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. and Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans will square off in a matchup of two very talented point guards. Walton is playing at a very high level and is the main reason Michigan has won 10 of their last 12. Evans leads the Cowboys with just over 19 points per game. If the Cowboys are going to win, they will need Evans to have a big game. The Cowboys have been awful defensively this season and will have a tough time with Michigan, who are among the nations best at taking care of the ball. Fresh off a Big 10 Tournament Championship, look for Michigan to roll in this one.
Like Kansas, Louisville is led by guard play and have two outstanding guards in Quentin Snider (12.7 ppg) and Donovan Mitchell (15.7 ppg). Louisville’s strength is their defense, which is headed up by Snider and Mitchell, as well as a tall frontline that wreaks havoc inside blocking shots. Rebounding is also a strong suit for the Cardinals, who rank amongst the top 30 teams in the country in terms of rebound margin. Jacksonville State went on an impressive run to get to the tournament, but they are overmatched in this one. Look for Snider and Mitchell to set the tone early and the Cardinals to impose their physical will in this one.