Men's NCAA Tournament West Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns

Men's NCAA Tournament West Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns


#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Southern (Salt Lake City, Utah)

The champions of the West Coast Conference are riding a 14-game winning streak heading into this first-round matchup, and things look mighty good for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga (31-2) carries the third-best shooting percentage (50.4 percent) into this game, and it is also 12th in points per game (77.6). This high-scoring offense, paced by Kelly Olynyk, has topped 80 points several times and 90 points in four games. The majority of games have seen Gonzaga record safe double-digit victories. Southern (23-9) didn’t even win its own conference as it tied with Arkansas-Pine Bluff for second place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, one game behind Texas Southern. It won the conference tournament, however, and that’s what counts. Southern averages 35.2 rebounds a game, which is barely out of the top 150, and none of the other offensive categories are very impressive. This game should be a cakewalk.


#8 Pittsburgh vs. #9 Wichita State (Salt Lake City, Utah)

The Panthers finished 24-8 overall and took fourth in the Big East, which translates into a second or third-place finish in one of the other tough conferences. Led by Trey Woodall’s 11.8 points per game and 38.2 percent 3-point shooting, the Panthers lost twice to Marquette and Notre Dame in February, rattled off four wins in a row and then lost by three points to Syracuse in the Big East tournament. Pittsburgh is seventh in the nation in assists (16.5 per game), and if the team is in a giving mood then this game could be a good one for the Panthers. Wichita State (26-8) finished a game behind Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference and lost 68-65 to the Bluejays in the MVC tournament. Its strongest category is rebounding, where the Shockers rank in the top 30 (35.8), and Cleanthony Early (13.6) paces the scoring. This game is a tossup, because Wichita State went 2-3 in its last five games but two of the losses were to Creighton.


#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Mississippi (Kansas City, Missouri)

Slow, methodical offense meets a surprise SEC team when Wisconsin travels to Kansas City. The Badgers come into the tournament with a 23-11 overall record, but take a look at some of their losses. Six of the 11 losses came against ranked teams (Creighton, Florida, Michigan State twice and Ohio State twice) so Wisconsin is definitely a team to watch come tournament time. Jared Berggren’s 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game pace the Badgers. Ole Miss averages 78.2 points per game, good for seventh in the country, but expect that score to be much lower in this game. Ole Miss finished second behind Florida in the SEC and had a 26-8 record at season’s end, which included a five-game winning streak and a tournament title. Ole Miss ranked losses are against Florida and Missouri. Although 12 vs. 5 usually spells upset, Wisconsin clearly has the upper hand in this game.


#4 Kansas State vs. #13 Boise State / La Salle (Kansas City, Missouri)

The road to the Big 12 championship usually goes through Kansas, and it ended up back in Lawrence after all, but the Big 12 title nearly detoured to Manhattan thanks to this pesky squad. With a 13th-best 16 assists per game leading the way, Kansas State and the offense of Rodney McGruder had a solid season. The Wildcats finished 27-7 overall, but six of the seven losses came against ranked schools and the seventh was against darkhorse Iowa State. Three of the seven losses came to in-state rival Kansas, and that’s definitely given Kansas State plenty of punch coming in. The outcome of this First Four game between Boise State and LaSalle is not known yet, but Boise State’s Mountain West background and LaSalle’s performance in the Atlantic 10 Conference were identical so the game should be a tossup. Whichever team wins, Kansas State should knock out quickly.


#6 Arizona vs. #11 Belmont (Salt Lake City, Utah)

This is an uh-oh game for your bracket. The Pac-12 did not get a lot of love from the selection committee (Oregon a 12 seed?), even though Arizona finished 25-7 overall and tied with Oregon and California for second place in the league behind regular-season champion UCLA. Arizona lost three times to UCLA, all in the second half of the season, and the team has a 5-5 record in its last ten games. Mark Lyons’ 14.8 scoring average leads a team that ranks in the top 50 in offense per game (73.3). As for Belmont, the Bruins wound up 26-6 overall and winners of the Ohio Valley Conference. Belmont dethroned last year’s darlings, Murray State, in the OVC finals. Belmont averages 77.2 points per game with Ian Clark (18.1) leading the way. Do not be the least bit surprised if 11 knocks off 6 in the second round. Belmont only lost by ten points to Virginia Commonwealth, and the OVC is a pretty tough league in its own right.


#3 New Mexico vs. #14 Harvard (Salt Lake City, Utah)

The Mountain West Conference got a lot of respect from the selection committee, and the Lobos certainly carried the load well with a 29-5 record and an MWC tournament championship. Kendall Williams averages 13.5 points and five assists per game for the Lobos, who suffered one loss to San Diego State and one to UNLV. It only lost to Air Force by one point and to St. Louis by 14 points, and New Mexico did edge Cincinnati by one point. Harvard finished 19-9 and won the Ivy League, marking two straight years of success under Tommy Amaker, and Harvard does have the 12th-best shooting percentage in the nation (48.2). Wesley Saunders averaged 16.5 points for the Crimson to lead the team. Although Harvard is decent, the Crimson simply do not play the tough schedule New Mexico does so this 3-14 matchup should not be one for the upset books.


#7 Notre Dame vs. #10 Iowa State (Dayton, Ohio)

Jerian Grant and Jack Cooley average 26.5 points per game combined for the Fighting Irish, who were only the fifth-best team in their conference. Of course, that conference was the Big East so take the fifth-place finish with a big grain of salt. Notre Dame does very well in assists (sixth in Division I with 17 per game) and shooting percentage (41st, 46.3 percent). Its 25-9 record includes losses to Georgetown, Syracuse and two defeats against Louisville, but who can forget the five-overtime 104-101 win over Louisville in February? So why is this game a potential pitfall for Notre Dame? Iowa State has the fourth-best scoring offense (79.6) in the country and is in the top 25 in rebounds and assists. Its 22-11 record includes three losses to Kansas (one in overtime), one to Kansas State and one each to Cincinnati and UNLV. If Iowa State pours on the points then Notre Dame could be in serious trouble right away. Watch this game closely.


#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Iona (Dayton, Ohio)

A short trip west on Interstate 70 for Ohio State translates into a game that feels like it’s almost home for the Buckeyes. Ohio State finished one game behind Indiana in the Big Ten standings, and its 26-7 overall record featured seven losses against all-ranked teams (Duke, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin). Ohio State has wins against Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, however, so the Buckeyes have at least split their season series. Iona finished fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 20-13 overall record, but the Gaels won the conference tournament and the automatic bid. Lamont Jones and Sean Armand average almost 40 points combined, but chances are really good the Gaels will be silenced quickly. Iona’s schedule was not even half as tough as Ohio State’s, and combined with the closeness between Dayton and Columbus this “home” game should go to Ohio State.


West Regional Overview


Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Region Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region Game Breakdowns


NCAA Tournament Central