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NCAA Tournament Saturday Preview, Open Thread

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Michigan men and women hit the court today, plus Hoosiers and Buckeyes women in the NCAA Tournament...full schedules for Men’s and Women’s NCAAT, the NIT, CBI, and shenanigans in The Basketball Classic. Join the conversation:

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hi, everyone. BoilerUp89 is traveling today, meaning you’re stuck with me for your NCAA Tournament previews. Let’s all get this together, huh?

Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts on the CBI Round 2 pairin—

...hey wait, where are you going?

NCAA Men’s Tournament Round 2

[8] North Carolina Tar Heels vs. [1] Baylor Bears

11:10am | CBS | Baylor -5.5 | O/U 148.5
East Region — Dickies Arena (Fort Worth, TX)

The Tar Heels bombed my Marquette Golden Eagles out of existence in Round 1—UNC big Brady Manek came out S P I C Y from deep, picking up a cool 28 on 5/10 deep balls and adding 11 boards to go with it. Despite running just 7 deep, the Marquette press didn’t bother UNC in the slightest...though shooting 13/35 (37%) from behind the arc and rebounding 38.5% on the offensive glass isn’t too bad.

They’ll get a different test from Baylor, who hold teams to the 22nd-lowest three-point shooting rate in the country and can grind things out if they need. 6’9” G Matthew Mayer will be a different kind of test, but maybe the Tar Heels catch the Bears napping. I don’t like their odds.

Poll

gross

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    class-fakers
    (2 votes)
  • 75%
    other-way-lookers
    (6 votes)
8 votes total Vote Now

[9] Creighton Bluejays vs. [1] Kansas Jayhawks

1:40pm | CBS | KU -11.5 | O/U 139.5
Midwest Region — Dickies Arena (Ft. Worth, TX)

Count the Bluejays out at your own peril, I guess.

They lost Big East frosh of the year Ryan Nembhard to season-ending wrist surgery in late February, shot just 2/14 from deep against the San Diego State Aztecs in Round 1, trailed by as many as 14 in that game, and didn’t tie the it up until Nembhard replacement Trey Alexander hit a layup with :11 left to force overtime.

Now, they’ll need to get by without their second-leading scorer, 7’1” C Ryan Kalkbrenner, who will miss the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.

That doesn’t bode well against a Kansas front line of 6’10” David McCormack and 6’8” Jalen Wilson, both of whom hit the glass with abandon. If I’m Greg McDermott, I’m gumming this up on the speedy, bigger, and better Jayhawks—the Jays have one of the best defenses in the country and if they can slow it down in Fort Worth...maybe?

Also the Jay vs. Jay thing reminds me of the Pikachu-Raichu showdown from the first season of Pokemon. Do with that what you will.

Poll

pick your jay

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    blue
    (2 votes)
  • 83%
    hawk
    (10 votes)
12 votes total Vote Now

[11] Michigan Wolverines vs. [3] Tennessee Volunteers

4:15pm | CBS | Tennessee -6 | O/U 136
South Region — Gainbridge Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

I hope everyone has a terrible time and no one gets snacks.

It’s an interesting strength vs. strength matchup here—the second-best defense in the country, per Kenpom, versus Michigan’s inside-out, potentially hot-shooting offense (19th in AdjO).

My wild card in this: Rick Barnes. He’s been to one Sweet Sixteen since 2007-08, and while he’s got seemingly everything that would send his team far again—a trio of talented guards in Kennedy Chandler, Santiago Vescovi, and Josiah-Jordan James, plus FOUR guys at the 4 and 5 who should give Dickinson some trouble inside if just by attrition—...he’s still Rick Barnes in the NCAA Tournament.

For all the talk about how Tennessee probably could’ve been a 2-seed and how Michigan is...uh...not that great on paper?...I find myself swinging over to the Wolverines, which almost feels absurd. But Devante Jones is back practicing after missing the Colorado State game with a concussion, and if Michigan drags this one down into the gutter...

Poll

this game is gross

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    cowbell guy
    (0 votes)
  • 100%
    goooooooooooooooooood olllllllllllllllllllllllld rocky top [/gunshot]
    (15 votes)
15 votes total Vote Now

[12] Richmond Spiders, Heroes vs. [4] Providence Friars

5:10pm | TNT | Providence -3 | O/U 134.5
Midwest Region — KeyBank Center (Buffalo, NY)

God bless the Spiders.

There are no losers in this one, to my mind. Ed Cooley seems like a good guy who’s way too good for the Maryland Terrapins, I’m happy they won the Big East, and while it was a bummer they took out a really fun team in South Dakota State, this section’s a freeroll in my book.

How hot the Spiders can shoot will play a role—but allow me to register my shock at how slow to respond the Spiders’ defense the Hawkeyes were. That was a sticky man-to-man D (stop it), let Iowa felt like they had to keep running a 4-out, 1-in offense predicated on dribble-drives that allowed Richmond to spin their web in the lane and force off-balance shots.

The difference, for me, is that Prov has a true center in Nate Watson—no disrespect to Filip Rebraca—who can set up on the low block and allow the Friars to play outside-in if the Spiders want to play help D. I think that size advantage makes the difference.

Poll

yes?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    heroic arachnids
    (6 votes)
  • 62%
    men of the cloth
    (10 votes)
16 votes total Vote Now

[5] Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. [4] UCLA Bruins

6:10pm | TBS | UCLA -3 | O/U 126
East Region — Moda Center (Portland, OR)

I wonder if there have ever been consecutive matchups of bald coaches in the NCAA Tournament.

Fresh off beating John Groce and Akron, Mick Cronin and the preseason darling Bruins take on perpetual villain and general bald asshole Randy Bennett.

Go Broons.

Poll

pick this east region game played by two west coast teams in portland

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    the ones who always have 10-12 aussies on roster
    (6 votes)
  • 66%
    the one whose most famous alumnus loves his bicycle
    (12 votes)
18 votes total Vote Now

[15] Saint Peter’s Peacocks vs. [7] Murray State Racers

6:45pm | CBS | Murray -9 | O/U 129.5
East Region — Gainbridge Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

I want to take a bath in this tweet:

While I certainly sympathize with the take that Murray State having to play San Francisco in what was a first-round BANGER was a bummer, I also think it’s pretty great that one was guaranteed to make it to the second round and NOW has a wide-open shot at a Sweet Sixteen. That’s pretty awesome.

Here’s to the low-energy Peacocks making a game of this and really reminding me why I enjoy March so damn much.

Poll

pick your mid-major delight

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    horsemen
    (12 votes)
  • 36%
    fancybirds
    (7 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now

[12] New Mexico State Aggies vs. [4] Arkansas Razorbacks

7:40pm | TNT | Arkansas -6.5 | O/U 138.5
West Region — KeyBank Center (Buffalo, NY)

I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand how Teddy Allen didn’t even get talked to—let alone a T—for the preening and shit-talking he was doing in the final minute of the Aggies’ win over UConn in the first round.

Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed it immensely!—but he was on one.

The Hogs escaped Vermont when JD Notae woke up in the second half and the Catamounts forgot how to make their free-throws. I’d be surprised if they allow Allen and the Aggies quite as much room to operate in this one—whereas the Huskies also played a slower pace that kept NMSU in it, the Hogs play at a much more aggressive tempo that should be able to run Allen off the line.

Credit to Eric Musselman, as well, for embracing the Buffalo lifestyle:

Sorry, coach, but if you make the Final Four you’re gonna have to jump through a table. Them’s the rules.

Just no one tell him how it ends if he makes the final.

Poll

choose

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    the school whose football team once employed BERT
    (15 votes)
  • 21%
    the school whose football team currently employs JERREH
    (4 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now

[9] Memphis Tigers vs. [1] Gonzaga Bulldogs

8:40pm | TBS | Gonzaga -10 | O/U 155
West Region — Moda Center (Portland, OR)

Honestly, I’m just bored of the Zags. Congrats on getting some good recruits then half-assing your way to a conference championship. I’m sure you have a shot to win it all, but also 3-2 against Top 25 teams suggests...yeah. Who knows.

Credit to Memphis for being dirty as fuck and somehow still hanging around. This’ll be up-tempo, stupid, and probably end in a Gonzaga win. But if you’re drunk, does it really matter?

Poll

basketball!

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    dog
    (13 votes)
  • 35%
    cat
    (7 votes)
20 votes total Vote Now

Since you’re stuck with me for at least another day, might as well know what’s going on in the rest of the basketball world, too:

NCAA Women’s Tournament

I was going to deep-dive the whole thing, but I’m sorry—it’s 10:33 and I just did about 500 words on the NIT and I’m a bad person. We all know that. Please check out our NCAA Women’s Tournament Preview for full breakdowns of the action:

Moving on.

[9] Kansas State Wildcats vs. [8] Washington State Cougars

10:30am | ESPN2 | KSU -3 | O/U 120.5
Bridgeport Region — NC State host site

[15] Mercer Bears at [2] UConn Huskies

12pm | ABC | no line lol
Bridgeport Region — UConn host site

[11] Villanova Wildcats vs. [6] BYU Cougars

12pm | ESPNN | BYU -11 | O/U 127
Wichita Region — Michigan host site

[14] Charlotte 49ers at [3] Indiana Hoosiers

12:30pm | ESPN2 | IU -19 | O/U 125
Bridgeport Region — Indiana host site

Charlotte looks very much like a happy-to-be-here team. An 89-33 loss to North Carolina in the non-conference and a roster mostly characterized by guard play tells me the Hoosiers’ Mackenzie Holmes should feast.

[16] Longwood Lancers at [1] NC State Wolfpack

1pm | ESPN | NCSU -40!!!!!!!! | O/U 142
Bridgeport Region — NC State host site

A LINE OF 40 POINTS

[11] Missouri State Bears vs. [6] Ohio State Buckeyes

1:30pm | ESPNU | OSU -5.5 | O/U 134.5
Spokane Region — LSU host site

Look at that line—the Bears’ defense is for real, and they could give the Basketbucks some serious trouble. (Full preview here.)

[13] Buffalo Bulls at [4] Tennessee Volunteers

2pm | ABC | Tenn -10.5 | O/U 142.5
Wichita Region — Tennessee host site

[14] American Eagles at [3] Michigan Wolverines

2:30pm | ESPN2 | Mich -29.5 | O/U 126.5
Wichita Region — Michigan host site

Very much a speed bump kind of game for the Wolverines—the Eagles lost by 17 to moribund Minnesota, and I don’t like F Taylor Brown’s odds of holding Naz Hillmon at bay.

[10] Florida Gators vs. [7] UCF Knights

2:30pm | ESPNN | UCF -8 | O/U 116
Bridgeport Region — UConn host site

If you want to bet some women’s hoops, the Under in this one is my stone-cold 3:16 lead-pipe lock of the day. UCF defense is for real.

[11] Princeton Tigers vs. [6] Kentucky Wildcats

3pm | ESPN | UK -2 | O/U 129
Bridgeport Region — IU host site

Setting up a Bourbon Barrel Game with a Sweet Sixteen bid on the line? Helllll yeah.

[14] Jackson State Tigers at [3] LSU Tigers

4pm | ESPNU | LSU -15.5 | O/U 138.5
Spokane Region — LSU host site

[12] Belmont Bruins vs. [5] Oregon Ducks

4:30pm | ESPN2 | Oregon -9.5 | O/U 127
Wichita Region — Tenn. host site

[12] Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. [5] North Carolina Tar Heels

6:30pm | ESPNN | UNC -14 | O/U 132.5
Greensboro Region — Arizona host site

[12] UMass Minutewomen at [5] Notre Dame Fighting Irish

6:30pm | ESPN2 | ND -6.5 | O/U 143

Bridgeport Region — Oklahoma host site

[13] IUPUI Jaguars at [4] Oklahoma Sooners

9pm | ESPNU | OU -7 | O/U 150.5
Bridgeport Region — Oklahoma host site

The NIT — 2nd Round

Worth noting in each region the NIT only seeded teams 1-4 then allowed for regional matchups. I assigned them numbered seeds again before remembering and don’t care enough to fix the mistake. It’s more fun this way, too.

[5] Oregon Ducks at [1] Texas A&M Aggies

11am | ESPN | A&M Region | A&M -4 | O/U 141.5

Ducks won at Utah State. Aggies beat Alcorn State by 12 at home and Buzz Williams read a prepared statement while filling his pants over not making the NCAA Tournament.

[3] VCU Rams at [2] Wake Forest Demon Deacons

3pm | ESPN+ | Wake -4.5 | O/U 144

The A&M Region’s 2 and 3 seeds, Wake and VCU, are still alive. Here’s hoping one of them can get it done in College Station if the Ducks can’t.

Really a bummer that this one’s shunted off to ESPN+ with the women’s tourney going on, but ESPN just has too many properties right now to make them all viable at once. The Deacs are one of the fastest and most efficient teams out there, while VCU brings with it a Top 5 defense, led as always by the Havoc D. Should be a fun little viewing session if you have a moment in the midday lull.

[6] Northern Iowa Panthers at [2] BYU Cougars

8pm | ESPN+ | SMU Region | BYU -6 | O/U 149.5

A genuinely fun matchup that you should be checking out—the Panthers hammered Saint Louis in Round 1, while the Cougars knocked off Dan Monson and The Beach in Provo.

Both teams have rather ambiguous relationships to defense, and gunners like the Cougars’ Alex Barcello (17.1 ppg, 44% 3pt) and Panthers’ AJ Green (18.9 ppg, 91.5% FT, 38% 3pt) could mean this is a fun one. But watch out for BYU’s marked size advantage on UNI.

The CBI

This is still happening!

For the second straight year, the CBI is taking place at Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center in a straight 16-team bracket headed by the Pride of Iowa, the Drake Bulldogs. There are a number of strong mid-majors in here, though, with Middle Tennessee, Ohio, and Stephen F. Austin rounding out the top four seeds.

The bummer is that the first two rounds are both on FloHoops, so unless you have that...

  • [1] Drake Bulldogs (-10, O/U 139) vs. [16] Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (11am, Flo)
  • [4] Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (-6.5, O/U 143.5) vs. [13] UNC Asheville Bulldogs (1:30pm, Flo)
  • [2] Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (-6, O/U 139) vs. Cal Baptist Lancers (4pm, Flo)
  • [3] Ohio Bobcats (-6, O/U 150) vs. [14] Rice Owls (6:30pm, Flo)

The Basketball Classic — First Round

This beautiful shitshow—remember: replacement to CIT, 32 21 teams, campus sites, bracket reconfigured after each round—has actually produced some fun games so far, with Southern Utah holding off Kent State 83-79 in the Willis Reed Game on Wednesday and South Alabama edging Southeast Louisiana 70-68 in the Travis Grant Game.

But it’s been marred by...weirdness? I don’t know. They promised 32 teams but only listed 21 in the final roster, meaning teams like Youngstown State now have walkovers when Wofford pulled out. Future host sites are determined by first-round attendance. So how it’ll work in future rounds...uh...

But it’s an interesting idea, I’m always in favor of more bad basketball rather than less, and I’m curious to see how the tournament organizers hone it going forward. The “Legend Game” setup is a cool idea, too, and I’m all for more highlighting of trailblazers in the men’s game.

Today’s matchups:

  • Western Illinois Leathernecks at UTEP Miners (2pm, ESPN+)
  • New Orleans Privateers at Portland Pilots (9pm, ESPN+)

Consider this my endorsement of New Orleans-Portland, which should be a lot of dumb fun, given the Privateers’ willingness to just run all over the goddamn place, jack shots up left and right, and make it a nightmare for teams with superior athleticism. UNO senior G Derek St. Hilaire nearly single-handedly beat Northwestern earlier in the year and is a true chucker’s chucker.


Thread for the day. Wrestling elsewhere. Previews above. Go. Behave.