Mar. 18, 2017
"The Stack" 3-17-17
The Stack is back on this Friday and we saw some great action to open up the NCAA Tournament. Sure only two lower seeds won, but there was some great action in almost every game. We have some final thoughts from Thursday’s games plus picks for today’s games so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Friday, March 17th:
Thursday’s NCAA Tournament action
As mentioned above only two lower seeds won on Thursday. #12 seed Middle Tennessee State overcame a slow start to take down #5 seed Minnesota while #11 Xavier went on a 21-4 run in the second half to beat #6 Maryland. Princeton had a shot on the buzzer to beat Notre Dame in the opening game on Thursday, but it did not fall. Both #1 seeds (Gonzaga and Villanova) overcame some slow starts to beat South Dakota State and Mount St. Mary’s respectively. In fact, both teams trailed for much of the first half. The game of the day though was in Salt Lake City between #9 Vanderbilt and #8 Northwestern. Northwestern had a big lead, but Vanderbilt came back and actually had the lead 66-65 and then Vanderbilt guard Matthew Fisher-Davis intentionally fouled Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh made the free throws to win the game. Fisher-Davis said he thought Vanderbilt was down by one. That is a terrible mistake to make. You have to know the situation and Fisher-Davis did not. Who knows if Northwestern would have made a game-winning shot, but it appears that Fisher-Davis essentially cost Vanderbilt the game. What will happen today? I’m sure plenty of crazy stuff. Let’s pick some games.
#10 Oklahoma State vs. #7 Michigan 12:15 PM ET CBS (Midwest Region, Indianapolis, IN)
Michigan is going into this tournament with a lot of momentum after winning four games in four days last week and winning the Big Ten Tournament. They’ve been through a lot. They can score points very easily, but OK State has a good backcourt of their own. I thought they would be a year away from competing and getting in the tournament. Obviously I was wrong. In this one though, I see Michigan being too much.
#14 New Mexico State vs. #3 Baylor 12:40 PM ET TruTV (East Region, Tulsa, OK)
Baylor may have peaked too early in the season. They had been a projected number one seed for much of the season. They still have too much athleticism for the Aggies. Baylor will win this win pulling away in the second half.
#9 Seton Hall vs. #8 Arkansas 1:30 PM ET TNT (South Region, Greenville, SC)
Virtual toss up in this game as most 8 versus 9 matchups are. Arkansas has played really well at times this season, but Seton Hall is starting to really put it together. They must avoid a long scoring drought, because that will really demoralize them as we’ve seen in other tournaments. If they do that they will win.
Pick: Seton Hall
#14 Iona vs. #3 Oregon 2 PM ET TBS (Midwest Region, Sacramento, CA)
Curious to see what the Ducks will look like without big man Chris Boucher. He leads the teams in blocked shots and also can hit some shots from beyond the arc. They still have Dillon Brooks though and that’s more than a lot of other teams have. I don’t think this is quite a Final Four team, but they have enough to beat Iona..
#15 Jacksonville State vs. #2 Louisville 2:45 PM ET CBS (Midwest Region, Indianapolis, IN)
Louisville needs to prove some things to me and a lot of other people I think. They’re great defensively, but they struggle sometimes on offense. They’ll be just fine in this game. It’s the rest of the tournament that I’m curious about.
#11 USC vs. #6 SMU 3:10 PM ET TruTV (East Region, Tulsa, OK)
USC looked really good in the second half of their comeback against Providence in Dayton on Wednesday. They have a lot of good players on their team and they beat SMU earlier this season. SMU has gotten better since then. Semi Ojeleye is a star and Milton can knock down a lot of threes. I might like this SMU team a little more than I should. Hope they don’t make me look foolish.
#16 Texas Southern vs. #1 UNC 4 PM ET TNT (South Region, Greenville, SC)
I want to see if UNC can look like the team that was up by 12 in the first half against Duke in the ACC Championship game and regain that championship form they have shown much of the season. They will have no problem in this one.
#11 Rhode Island vs. #6 Creighton 4:30 PM ET TBS (Midwest Region, Sacramento, CA)
The Rams of Rhode Island are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. They play great defense and E.C. Matthews is a stud. Creighton lost their starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. to injury in January and never really looked the same after that. I think the Rams will be too much. This is the makings of a potential Sweet 16 team.
Pick: Rhode Island
#16 UC Davis vs. #1 Kansas 6:50 PM ET TNT (Midwest Region, Tulsa OK)
Kansas routinely disappoints in the NCAA Tournament, but this may be the year they can get it done in a relatively weak and unknown Midwest Region. They will have no problems with UC Davis.
#10 Wichita State vs. #7 Dayton 7:10 PM ET CBS (South Region, Indianapolis, IN)
Many people view Wichita State as the most under-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament. I can agree with that assessment. Dayton is a good team, but Wichita State is playing a different level of basketball and they are out to prove to everyone that they are better than the #10 seed they received.
Pick: Wichita State
#15 Troy vs. #2 Duke 7:20 PM ET TBS (East Region, Greenville, SC)
Arguably no one is playing better basketball than the Duke Blue Devils right now. Jayson Tatum is really stepping up. Luke Kennard is a machine. All of the young freshman are contributing. Grayson Allen hasn’t been tripping anyone in a while. No issues for Duke in this one.
#11 Kansas State vs. #6 Cincinnati 7:27 PM ET TruTV (South Region, Sacramento, CA)
Kansas State looked really good Tuesday night against Wake Forest. Offensively they were terrific and they showed moments of it defensively too. They can match Cincinnati’s physicality, but can they match Cincy’s defensive intensity? Unlike it other years, Cincinnati can actually score in addition to playing tremendous defense. Don’t prove me wrong Cincinnati.
#9 Michigan State vs. #8 Miami(FL) 9:20 PM ET TNT (Midwest Region, Tulsa, OK)
It’s March and that means Izzo Time. Very few coaches are as good and can get the most out of their players as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo can out of his players. It’s been a rough year for the Spartans, but I think they find it within themselves to take down the Hurricanes.
Pick: Michigan State
#15 Northern Kentucky vs. #2 Kentucky 9:40 PM ET CBS (South Region, Indianapolis, IN)
Congratulations Northern Kentucky! You make it to your first NCAA Tournament in school history and you get to face Malik Monk and the Kentucky Wildcats. It’s not an in-state rivalry (at least not that I am aware of), but it’s a Kentucky affair. The Wildcats will top the Norse.
#10 Marquette vs. #7 South Carolina 9:50 PM ET TBS (East Region, Greenville, SC)
Almost seems a little unfair that a #7 seed like South Carolina is will get to play a virtual home game in Greenville. Marquette better be ready for a loud and rocking arena. They can make threes and they will need to make quite a few of them to quiet the crowd. South Carolina started to slide as the season progressed. Even with the crowd I think Marquette is just too much, but they are going to have to play some defense.
#14 Kent State vs. #3 UCLA 9:57 PM ET TruTV (South Region, Sacramento, CA)
Lonzo Ball is going to continue to have big games and his dad will probably say something stupid. I see no reason why Ball and the Bruins don’t put up at least 85 points and beat Kent State soundly.
Coming up Saturday: Friday reaction plus picks for Saturday’s second round action