Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament South Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns

South Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns
After an ugly 77-71 win over Seton Hall, Arkansas heads into the round of 32 looking for a mammoth upset of top seeded North Carolina. The Razorbacks got into the second round with help from a questionable flagrant foul call at the end of their game against Seton Hall. No matter how they got there, Arkansas will be focused on knocking off the Tar Heels on Sunday. North Carolina took care of business in their first round contest with Texas Southern, 103-64. Justin Jackson had a monster game with 21 points in just 24 minutes. Joel Berry, the Tar Heels' point guard and leader, left the game early with an ankle injury. He’s expected to be ready for Sunday’s contest. North Carolina needs him to be 100% to have a strong chance at making a run to the sweet 16 and further.
North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the nation and that showed as they grabbed 54 boards in the first round. Arkansas will have their hands full trying to keep the Heels off the glass. The Razorbacks were out-rebounded 46-32 against Seton Hall, which will not get the job done against UNC. Arkansas hasn't beaten a team of North Carolina's caliber all season and will have to play their best possible game to have a chance of pulling off the upset.
Kentucky and Wichita State will play in a highly anticipated round of 32 rematch on Sunday in Indianapolis. The two teams met in the second round in 2014 when Kentucky knocked off top seeded Wichita State and ended their run at an undefeated season. That Kentucky team went on to make the championship game and was one of the strongest 8 seeds of all time. This year, Wichita state is the lower seed in the match-up and may be one of the best 10 seeds in recent memory. The Shockers went 30-4 and analytics show this team is much better than its 10 seed placement, as they rank in the top five on KenPom.
Wichita State took a strong punch from Dayton and Scoochie Smith on Friday night but were able to withstand the fight. The offense never really got going, but Wichita State used their defense and rebounding to pull out the victory. The Shockers out-rebounded Dayton 48-29 and will need another strong showing inside against Kentucky and Bam Adebayo, who had 18 boards in the first round. The Wildcats weren’t able to blow out Northern Kentucky quite the way they planned, only winning 79-70. Malik Monk wasn’t able to ever really get going, only making three field goals and going 0-6 from three. Both will need better showing from their offense to get to the second weekend.
#3 UCLA vs. #6 Cincinnati
UCLA and Cincinnati will go head to head on Sunday in a battle between offensive and defensive juggernauts. UCLA scores 90.4 points per game, which is best in the nation. Meanwhile, Cincinnati only gives up 60.8 per game, good enough for fifth best in the nation. Something’s got to give in this match-up. UCLA used that offensive power to the tune of a 97-80 win over Kent State. The defense looked vulnerable as it did as times during the regular season, but the Bruins were missing Ike Anigbogu who they will hope to have back on Sunday. Cincinnati handled Kansas State with little resistance, 75-61. The Bearcats held Kansas State to 38.9% shooting from the field. They will need a defensive performance like that against UCLA for them to get to the Sweet 16.
With the game being played in Sacramento, UCLA will have a strong fan contingent present. Cincinnati will have to rely on its defense to contain the UCLA offense so they can prevent the game and environment from getting away from them. UCLA has struggled in games this season when teams play pressure defense on them, most notably against Arizona, and Cincinnati will have to hope the Bruins are off their game to have a chance.
Butler and MTSU, two teams familiar with a Cinderella story line, will face off Saturday with a trip to the sweet 16 on the line. Middle Tennessee wore the glass slipper last season as a 15 seed when they pulled off an upset of 2 seed Michigan State who was a popular national champion pick. This season, MTSU will not be satisfied with just one upset. “Upset” might not even be the right word as MTSU was actually favored to beat 5 seed Minnesota on Thursday. The Blue Raiders will go up against Butler, who is no stranger to the second round having won at least one tournament game six of the last eight years. Butler has played the role of Cinderella themselves with a trip to the championship game as a 5 seed in 2010 and as an 8 seed in 2011. Butler easily handled Winthrop in the first round 76-64.
On the court, Middle Tennessee will look to frustrate the Bulldogs, which is no easy task. Butler only averages 10.2 turnovers, while MTSU throws different defenses at their opponents looking to confuse them. Butler is a good three point shooting team and will need to make jump shots, which Minnesota could not do against MTSU. Both teams are smart, experienced and used to winning big games which should make for a great second round match-up.