Men's NCAA Tournament South Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns

Men’s NCAA Tournament South Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


#5 VCU vs #4 Michigan

As the game wore on, South Dakota State could not hang with Michigan.  In fact, the main story line, Nate Wolters versus Trey Burke, ended up not amounting to much of a battle.  Neither was particularly sensational.  Their teammates were the ones making plays for them.  Michigan was just too much to handle.  Tim Hardaway, Jr. had 21 points and Glen Robinson III was a solid contributor.  Wolters only had 10 points.  The Wolverines had a bit of a scare when Troy Burke hit the deck hard, but he will be available for their matchup against VCU.  Michigan looked like a team that could make a run in this tournament.  Freshman Mitch McGary stepped up as well and added 13 points and 9 rebounds.  His emergence means a lot for their team.

They play a VCU team that started strong, took it right to Akron, and never looked back.  Viewers could feel the outcome was determined before the first half was even over.  When the first half did end, the Rams were already up 50-25.  Akron had a few key players come down with an illness during the week, and it really hurt their depth.  Only one player off of their bench scored points.  Once again, VCU’s defense was the key.  Akron was held to 42 total points.  The most jarring stat from the game was that Akron turned the ball over 21 times compared to VCU’s five.  That is VCU’s game.  They will lock up so tight on defense, the other team is forced into making bad decisions.  They looked like masters on Thursday.

This game ends up looking pretty intriguing.  These are good teams that play a skilled brand of basketball.  That is to say they limit their own mistakes and play well as a team.  Michigan overall is the more talented team on paper.  However, it is hard to overlook the fact that Shaka Smart has guided VCU to more recent tournament success.  Not to say John Beilein has not been successful.  VCU’s Final Four run is still etched in peoples’ memories.  The Rams will be able to matchup with Michigan in almost all positions.  The key will be Trey Burke.  If he is fully healthy (as in no pain in his elbow from his fall), he might not get flustered by VCU’s defense.  His poise will come in handy against this team.  Otherwise, if VCU can hit shots inside and outside, their defense will take care of itself.  It could come down to the wire.  It’s anybody’s game.


#7 San Diego State vs #15 Florida Gulf Coast

It’s almost hard to believe this is a Round of 32 matchup.  Florida Gulf Coast pulled the upset of the tournament so far (even over Harvard) by beating the No. 2 seed Georgetown fairly handily.  They did not even have a Division I program five years ago.  Florida Gulf Coast was up at halftime and never looked back.  Georgetown was unable to hit shots for much of the game.  Superstar Otto Porter, Jr. had a double-double, but he only shot 5-17 from the field.  Without him playing well, the whole team never settled in.  The reverse was true for the Eagles.  They looked loose and confident.  They drained a whole slew of three-pointers early in the second half to keep their distance from the Hoyas.  Guard Brett Comer had 10 assists, many of them backdoor cuts and dunks for easy buckets.  The Hoyas could never solve the Eagles defense.  The Eagles solved Georgetown’s.   The Big East co-champion was one of the best defensive teams in the country.  Rarely did they ever give up 88 points in a game like they did on Friday.

San Diego State started fairly slow against Oklahoma, but they took over late.  Once the game got going, it seemed like a back and forth contest.  Both teams seemed to be hitting shots.  Neither San Diego State nor Oklahoma had offensive issues.  After the game went on, San Diego State really found their rhythm.  Oklahoma fell out of theirs.  Romero Osby was the only player to have double-digit points.  San Diego State clogged passing lanes and frustrated the Sooners defensively.  Jamaal Franklin, the Aztecs stud guard, had 21 points.  He played with hustle and fire that was not matched on the other side.  The Aztecs only missed one free throw all night too, which helped them salt the game away.

San Diego State should note that Florida Gulf Coast is officially playing with nothing to lose.  They played with passion and excitement.  They were having fun and it showed.  The Eagles shot 42% from the field and 40% from behind the arc (6-15).  That sort of efficiency forces opponents to respect the outside shot.  Then they can get the ball inside to players like Eddie Murray who had a big night.  Senior leader Sherwood Brown will have this team playing well.  The Aztecs are also playing great as a team.  On paper, they appear to be better.  As we saw Friday, that means nothing.  They should have a size advantage for the most part underneath the basket.  The problem is that they can score in streaks.  Florida Gulf Coast can jump on top of you in a hurry.   The Aztecs do not want to dig themselves out of a hole against this team.  The Eagles will play well.  They might be able to win two in a row.


#1 Kansas vs #8 North Carolina

This is the matchup everyone was hoping for.  It was not a shoe-in that it was going to happen.  Kansas got the run of its life against 16-seeded Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers were leading at halftime.  They matched Kansas in scoring and intensity for much of the game.  It was a five point game with a minute and a half left.  Neither team shot well at all from long range.  Western Kentucky hit a few late, but unfortunately it was not enough.  If a few extra shots had fallen, who knows what would have happened.  Kansas’s talent took over.  Ben McLemore matured in the course of two hours.  He hit some clutch free-throws at the end of the game to hold the Hilltoppers off. 

North Carolina did not find themselves in a more comfortable position.  A quarter of the way through the game, the Tar Heels looked like they were going to run Villanova out of the gym.  The Wildcats stormed back to make a game of it.  They had a chance to win it at the end.  The shots just did not fall for them, from close-range or long-range.  The Tar Heels shooting was on point as it has been for the last 10 or so games.  They hit over half of their three-point attempts.  They made 11 overall.  It is difficult to compete with that kind of prolific shooting.  Their biggest problem was their ability to rebound against the Wildcats.  Villanova has a couple of really solid big men in Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston.  They were eating up the glass.  The Heels will have to correct that if they want to have success against better teams moving forward.

Sunday is going to be the Roy Williams Bowl.  Since he left Kansas for North Carolina, he has won two national titles.  At the same time, he is 0-3 against his former team, including a lopsided loss against Kansas in 2008, the last time Kansas won the title.  Both of these programs are rich in basketball history.  This year they are similar in a lot of ways.  Kansas has a better record, but both can run.  Both have extremely talented freshmen that the coaches rely on.  Both teams have elite coaches in college basketball.  This is going to be an entertaining matchup.  Each team can play at a high tempo, but their half court offenses are effective as well.  Kansas should win this game if they are playing at their highest level.  A performance like the one against Western Kentucky will leave them quite vulnerable.  North Carolina can drain the three ball.  That might be the difference in this game. 


#3 Florida vs #11 Minnesota

Minnesota was a popular expert pick to beat No. 6 UCLA in the opening round.  They delivered and then some.  Minnesota was up 10 at halftime, and, outside of a few UCLA spurts, controlled the game the rest of the way.  UCLA was missing their second-leading scorer, and Kyle Anderson, a valuable piece, only scored six points for them.  They could not shoot to save their lives.  The Bruins shot 31% from the field (18% from three).  By contrast, Minnesota was on fire.  They shot 50% for the game, including 56% from behind the arc.  Andre Hollins could not be stopped.  He had 28 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.  Few teams would have been able to beat Minnesota on Friday the way they were playing.

Florida certainly hopes they do not see a duplicate performance from the Gophers.  The Gators looked strong in their own right.  After a really strong start from Northwestern State, Florida ended up taking the game over.  They only allowed 15 points in the second half.  The Gators had four players score in double figures, led by star forward Erik Murphy.  They had a lot of offensive rebounds to generate extra possessions.  Their interior play was too much for the Demons.  The rebound count was 40-21. 

Florida should win this game for the same reasons they won against Northwestern State.  Murphy and Patric Young are beasts underneath with the help of swing man Will Yeguete off the bench.  Minnesota has Trevor Mbekwe, but he is one quality player compared to a unit for the Gators.  They are probably going to have to get better production from beyond the arc.  They were 33%, but the way Minnesota has been shooting, they are going to have to hit more of them in order to keep up.  The Gophers have to find a way to keep their hot hands hot.  They do not have enough offensive firepower on a regular day to keep up with Florida.  Defense against the Gators is the number one priority.  They are undefeated this season when they score over 70 points.  That will be the magic number on Sunday.  The Big Ten was a better conference overall this year, so Minnesota has an advantage in playing tough opponents.  Florida just looks like the better team when it comes down to it.


South Regional Overview


West Regional Overview

West Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


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