Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns

2014 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


#1 Wichita State vs. #8 Kentucky (Saint Louis, Missouri)

Even the biggest Wichita State detractors didn’t think they would have any trouble with Cal Poly. The Shockers went up big early and never looked back, turning a 32-13 halftime lead into a 27 point victory. Forward Cleanthony Early led the way with 23 points and Fred VanVleet dished out eight assists despite a limited scoring effort. Not surprisingly, it took longer for #8 seed Kentucky to pull away from #9 Kansas State, which they never really did, but still held on. In the low scoring affair, Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison led the way and accounted for 37 of Kentucky’s 56 points.

This is where Wichita State will be seriously tested. Kentucky is terribly young, but Wichita State has not faced many teams this year that match the Wildcats when comes to pure talent. Whether or not Kentucky can pull together all of that talent into a cohesive team has been the issue for Coach Calipari all season long. The Shockers could easily get into the heads of the freshmen backcourt and force some turnovers that lead to easy buckets. With the size and shot blocking prowess of Kentucky, it will be important for the Shockers to occasionally get ahead of the Kentucky frontcourt and not  have to deal with them in them in the halfcourt all of the time. This will be a good game, but it should be Wichita State’s to lose.


#4 Louisville vs. #5 Saint Louis (Orlando, Florida)

The Cardinals and the Billikens both survived close calls. For Louisville, it would have messed up many brackets if they fell to the Jaspers. Manhattan put up a great effort, but the balanced Cardinals attack was too much in the end. Saint Louis mounted a massive comeback against North Carolina State and beat the Wolfpack in overtime. Jordair Jett and Rob Loe both had superb games and when they are playing like they did in the second half, the Billikens can beat anybody.

But can they beat Louisville? The Cardinals do seem a little more vulnerable now than they did heading into the NCAA Tournament, but the tournament jitters should be gone. The Billikens do have some momentum moving forward now after a tough end to the regular season, but they will need Jett to have a complete game. Having Loe shoot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc again to help stretch out the Louisville defense would not hurt either.


#11 Tennessee vs. #14 Mercer (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Mercer joined the growing club of teams who have upset Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to 20 points from Jakob Gollon and 17 from Daniel Coursey, the Bears pulled it off in the end. The Blue Devils were impressive from beyond the arc, connecting on 15-of-37 from three. But their shooting from inside the arc was not good enough. Tennessee played very well against Massachusetts despite a very quick turnaround. It was on Wednesday night when the Vols beat Iowa in overtime in Dayton. Handling Umass easily less than 48 hours later in Raleigh was an impressive feat.

Mercer is still a very, very good team with plenty of experience and even more talent. Nobody will be looking past them now though, especially Tennessee. The Volunteers will need to beat Mercer on the interior. The Bears do have size, but players like Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon can push around the Mercer big men. That is where Duke completely failed to take advantage of Mercer’s weakness. If Tennessee can play smart basketball and get points in the paint while running their halfcourt offense, Mercer’s magical run will come to an end.


#2 Michigan vs. #7 Texas (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The lone close contest in Milwaukee on Thursday was Texas taking on Arizona State. It came down to a last second put-back by Texas big man Cameron Ridley. Ridley led the balanced Longhorns scoring attack with 17 points. Five other players also reached double figures. The Wolverines had an easier time with Wofford, holding them to just 40 points.

For Texas, the way they won over the Sun Devils could be huge. This is an extremely young team that has had some major ups and downs throughout the year. Getting a win like that in the Round of 64 could propel them to an upset. Michigan is the solid favorite with Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III leading the way, but do not overlook the Longhorns in this one.


South Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


West Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


East Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central