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

2014 NCAA Tournament East Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


#1 Virginia vs. #8 Memphis (Raleigh, North Carolina)

This is the ultimate game of contrasting paces.  Memphis would prefer to run at every opportunity.  Virginia slows teams down to a crawl.  It will be interesting to see which team wins out.  Memphis beat George Washington in the second round, but they certainly could not coast to a victory.  The Colonials pulled within three points on the last possession.  George Washington just had a tough time keeping up.  The Tigers held their leading scorer, Maurice Creek, to just seven points.  Memphis was landing threes early and George Washington just got out of sync.  The difference in the game was the fact that Memphis hit nearly 50% of its shots.  Michael Dixon, Jr. was a huge spark off the bench, going 6-of-9 for 19 points.  In the end, that bench production is what carried Memphis through.  Great bench play should help Josh Pastner’s crew in the next round as well.

Virginia was the No. 1 seed that had the most trouble in the first two days of the tournament.  Coastal Carolina had the Cavaliers down ten in the first half.  In the second half, Virginia reaffirmed why it is the best defensive team in the country.  Coastal Carolina could not seem to hit a field goal and looked lackluster on offense for much of the half.  Virginia found their rhythm and started pouring in shots.  Evan Nolte was a spark plug for them off the bench.  He hit shot after shot to help the Cavs pull away.  For a jump shooting team, Virginia did a good job working in the lane with some dribble drives and some fast break opportunities.  Once they locked down on Coastal Carolina defensively, the game was essentially over. 

Generally in the tournament, teams that score and score quickly have the upper hand.  Memphis would seem to be the leader in that category.  However, they turn the ball over a lot with the frenetic pace that they play.  Virginia is already a great defensive team.  Memphis may be more susceptible to mistakes in this game.  The question will be whether or not Virginia’s defense keeps Memphis down.  It is hard to picture Memphis being able to win if they only hit 27% from behind the arc.  The Cavaliers live and die by the three.  So far they have dug themselves out of holes with their ability to shoot long range shots.  Each team is going to want to dictate their pace of play.  It may come down to who can draw fouls and shoot well from the line.  Virginia hit 80% in the second round.  Memphis hit 68%.  It will be a tough game for both sides.


#4 Michigan State vs. #12 Harvard (Spokane, Washington)

Harvard was a popular upset pick against a fifth-seeded Cincinnati team before the tournament began.  It turns out that there was good reason.  Harvard jumped out to a lead against Cincinnati and never relinquished control of the game.  Wesley Saunders once again was sensational offensively and defensively.  He led all Crimson scorers with 12 points, and he also had four assists.  Despite Sean Kilpatrick displaying why he is an all-conference player, the Bearcats had a tough day shooting the ball.  Harvard plays great defense and Cincinnati was never able to solve them at either end of the court. 

For better or worse, Harvard advances to play Michigan State.  The Spartans might be the most tournament-ready team in the tournament.  With all of their injured players back in the fold, they really look like a sound, solid, well-rounded team.  Delaware put up a good fight in the first half.  Over time, the Spartans were just too talented for the Blue Hens.  Nobody could stop Adreian Payne.  He was hobbled by a foot injury earlier this season and without him Michigan State was not the same team they are now.  In his final college season, he is going out with a bang.  Against Delaware, he had 41 points.  That is the highest total in a first round game in this tournament. 

Harvard should put up more of a fight than Delaware did against Michigan State.  Harvard is an experienced team.  They ran through the Ivy League with no problem.  They have their recent trips the NCAA tournament to fall back on.  They can spread out an opponent and make them play great defense.  The problem is Michigan State can answer any challenge Harvard throws at them.  Gary Harris can match Saunders at each end of the floor.  Defensively, Keith Appling can handle Siyani Chambers.  Most importantly, Michigan State has the advantage in the post with Payne and Branden Dawson.  Do not be surprised if the Crimson stay close, but a victory for Harvard would be an astounding upset.


#3 Iowa State vs. #6 North Carolina (San Antonio, Texas)

Both of these teams had a bit of trouble gaining their footing in their second round matchups.  In fact, North Carolina is lucky to have escaped with a win at all.  Providence flustered the Tar Heels in the second half and had them beat until Carolina turned momentum and started scoring quickly and keeping it close enough to win at the end.  James Michael McAdoo hit a couple of free throws at the end of the game to keep Providence at arms’ length.  The Friars had a shot to tie or win at the end, but turned the ball over out of bounds on the last possession. 

In contrast, Iowa State did not eke by NC Central.  They started very slowly, but they ended up winning their game by 18 points.  All five of their starters were in double figures.  They shot 63% from the field, which is a blistering pace for any opponent.  They shot well from behind the arc and the foul line.  In the end their talent won out against a less athletic team.

North Carolina matches Iowa State in athleticism, so this should be an up-and-down game.  Roy Williams loves to run, and Iowa State tends to do the same.  At first glance, North Carolina does not look like it can match scorer for scorer against the Cyclones.  However, if J.P. Tokoto steps up like he did against Providence with some electric plays on offense, then the Heels can certainly run with, and beat, Iowa State.  The key matchup will be Marcus Paige against DeAndre Kane.  Both are going to have to make some big plays in order for their teams to win.  Can Iowa State continue to get contributions for their entire starting lineup?  Time will tell, but they have been doing it all year.  North Carolina has been playing their best basketball since late February.  It has carried them this far.  The key for them is to not let the game become a battle from the foul line.  North Carolina has struggled mightily from the charity stripe.  It has cost them.  That is not the type of game they want to play with Iowa State.  Ultimately, it looks like Iowa State can outmuscle the Heels, but Carolina has a ton of experience and pedigree.  They will not go down without a fight.


#2 Villanova vs. #7 Connecticut (Buffalo, New York)

This is a matchup of the former Big East.  This year’s Big East champion, Villanova rolled over Milwaukee by 20.  The Wildcats are already in a rhythm.  Five players, including Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins off the bench, scored in double figures.  Villanova took hold of the game and never relinquished control.  Connecticut had a much tougher test against a solid St. Joseph’s team that was poised to take out the Huskies.  In a wild game, Connecticut needed overtime to take out the Hawks.  St. Joseph’s had UConn right where they wanted them.  They had the lead at halftime, but Connecticut was able to bounce back after St. Joseph’s shooting went cold in the second half.  Making things worse, the Hawks top inside player, Halil Kanacevic, fouled out shortly after overtime started.  Shabazz Napier scored nine points in overtime alone to seal the win for the Huskies. 

This could be the most intriguing matchup in the Round of 32 in the East Region simply because these teams know each other so well.  They have split the last two games against each other.  Each one on the road, including a nail biter won by Connecticut in overtime two seasons ago.  These teams always play each other close.  Both generally employ quick, athletic guards.  This season the key might be UConn’s guards versus Villanova’s big guys.  JayVaughn Pinkston is the man for the Wildcats.  He had 13 points in the first game to go along with three blocks.  Napier is a star and he is getting his chance to shine in this tournament.  Not many backcourt players can outplay him.  Remember he hit a last second shot to beat Florida earlier this season.  He has clutch written all over him.  Villanova has been the more consistent team all year and they find their way to free throw line and ice teams in the last couple of minutes.  They have not seen that many teams that can shoot it like Connecticut can though.  These are both long-range shooting teams.  Each averages nearly ten three’s per game.  It will be interesting to see play inside the paint will determine this one.  Get ready for a slug fest.


South Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


West Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


Midwest Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central