Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament East Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns

2014 NCAA Tournament East Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns


#1 Virginia vs. #4 Michigan State (New York, New York)

It is difficult to say how many people would have predicted this matchup, but both teams truly deserve to be in this position heading into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.  Virginia validated its number one seeding by completely dismantling Memphis in the Round of 32.  Virginia started hot and Memphis could never catch up.  The Cavaliers shooting picked up right where it left off: in a heat wave.  Virginia shot over 55% from the field, including a blistering 45% from three point range.  Memphis could only muster 23% from the same distance.  Led by Joe Harris, the Cavaliers hit huge threes right when Memphis looked like they were going to get back into the game.  Despite the fact that the Tigers held possession and tried physical game play, they just could not get the ball to go into the basket.  Because of that, their up-and-down game play was essentially inconsequential in the grand scheme.  Virginia showed why they rank top ten in nine major defensive categories in college basketball.  They play a tight, hand-in-your-face defense that kept the Tigers off rhythm.  When you go against a hot shooting team, it can be difficult to keep up when you cannot play the game you want to play.

They will play a Michigan State team that beat Harvard 80-73.  It was a high scoring affair considering the Spartans already had 45 points at half time.  Harvard played a tough game – as they tend to do – but ultimately they could not match the physicality on the low block.  Brendan Dawson had 26 points for the Spartans.  They shot nearly 50% from the field.  The Crimson had plenty of opportunities to make it interesting, but they just came up empty on more possessions than Michigan State did.  Will Michigan State be able to keep up the high scoring output from their first weekend of competition?  It will be an interesting challenge against Virginia.  Virginia has not played as talented a team as this all season, and Michigan State has not faced anyone with such defensive prowess.  It will come down to the three point shot and the ability to make free-throws.  Virginia is good at it, and the Spartans hardly lose games from the line.  These are two defensive-minded clubs.  The key will be whose offense can overcome.  The outside shooters will have the final say on Friday night.


#3 Iowa State vs. #7 Connecticut (New York, New York)

Talk about some hard fought games.  These two teams played their hardest in order to earn their Sweet Sixteen bid.  For Iowa State, it is the first time since the 1990s that they have advanced this far.  For Connecticut, they are back in the fold after missing the tournament all together last season.  Connecticut just took it to Villanova on Saturday night.  Once again, Shabazz Napier was the star leading his team to victory with 25 points, including 21 in the second half.  Villanova could just not find the basket as easily as they are used to.  They only shot 35% from the floor.  The Connecticut defense forced 16 turnovers to create some uncertainty in the Wildcat offense and keep them off guard.  These two teams were so familiar with each other that the game could have gone either way.  Connecticut’s star players simply outplayed Villanova’s and that was the difference.  The Huskies have tasted recent tournament success – they won the championship in 2011 – and they approached this game like they have nothing to lose.  In the end, their defense allowed them to come through with a victory.

Iowa State had a hard fought battle with North Carolina in order to secure their bid to the Sweet Sixteen.  Both teams were equally matched athletically, and it was a dog fight down in the paint.  It was one of the more back and forth games in the Round of 32.  All five of North Carolina’s starters finished in double figures, while four of Iowa State’s players did the same.  The issue for North Carolina was that they had no answer for DeAndre Kane.  He led the Cyclones in points, rebounds and assists in this game.  He hit the game winner with 1.6 seconds left on a layup where he drove right through the lane.  Iowa State’s ability to create in the paint allowed them to keep the Tar Heels at bay.  North Carolina had no presence in the center to create mismatches for the athletic Cyclones. 

This game coming up will be an interesting one.  Connecticut has to feel pretty good about the way they are playing right now.  They did not have the greatest season in the American Athletic Conference, but they are playing their best at the best time.  Napier is playing at an elite level, and we have seen individual players carry their teams through tournaments before (see Kemba Walker).  Iowa State has been a high-flying machine all year that can score at will and outwork a team until they tire out and can no longer keep up.  Connecticut will certainly not be intimidated but they may be overmatched by a more talented team.  The Cyclones share the ball better than anybody.  They can spread you out with their ability to find the open man.  Everyone is capable of scoring.  A defense has to honor that.  Connecticut is a very good defensive team and they have been able to slow teams down and create a pace that favors their ability to run a halfcourt offense.  The X-factor here may be the absence of starting forward Georges Niang for the Cyclones.  He broke his foot in the first game of the tournament and will be out for the remainder of competition.  He is a huge part of the Iowa State game plan.  Their ability or inability to operate without him is going to determine whether they can beat the Huskies.  Signs point to yes, but the Huskies know how to play Sweet Sixteen basketball.  It has been a while for the Cyclones.  Will that have any effect?


South Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns

  Midwest Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns

 West Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central