Atlantic Coast Conference

Bracket Previews- West Regional

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Continuing on the left side of the bracket, I preview the games for the West Region.

 

#16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers vs #1 Wisconsin Badgers

Photo Courtesy of Rant Sports

Photo Courtesy of Rant Sports

A Chanticleer is a rooster if anyone was wondering what type of nickname Coastal Carolina claims to have. Champions of the the Big South Conference, the Chanticleers finished their regular season and conference tournament with a record of 23-9. Led by leading scorer Warren Gillis, averaging 13 ppg. The main eye opening stat that is revealed is they are 5th in the entire NCAA in rebounding, so possibly these guys could cause problems for Kaminsky and Dekker on the boards.

Other than that, Wisconsin should continue to shoot the ball well from the perimeter. Expect Traevon Jackson, Bronson Koenig, and Nigel Hayes to scorch the nets and dictate tempo and despite Coastal Carolina’s excellent rebounding, Kaminsky should thrive in isolation plays.

Wisconsin 78 Coastal Carolina 59

 


 

 

#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs #8 Oregon Ducks

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

The committee did a horrible job of seeding both of these two teams. Oregon’s wins over Arizona and Utah in conference play as well as making it to Pac 12 Title Game is more deserving of a higher seed. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, just did sneak in with a 18-13 record and is fortunate to be a single digit seed even though suffering a rocky conference season. This is actually a rematch of the 2013 First Round matchup when Oregon pitted as #5 seed beat the #12 Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Ducks sailed to a Sweet 16 finish that year.

Joe Young carried this Oregon team during the latter part of conference play. Capping off games with game winning buzzer beaters is a reason why he is 12th in the NCAA in most points per game at 20.2. The senior guard is capable of catching fire from three point range and is a quick ball handler in transition. Young can carry this Ducks team again in his last run.

PF

Oklahoma State is weird team, they have a lot of talent on their roster to win a few games with a playmaking point guard in transfer Anthony Hickey,  sharp shooter Phil Forte III and a future NBA Draft pick with Le’Bryan Nash. The problem with the Cowboys is that they don’t carry a lot of depth and when Hickey and Forte aren’t shooting well, they get average very fast. If you want an early scare to happen with Wisconsin, Oregon is the perfect team when they get going on offense.

Look to have a rematch of last year’s Round of 32 matchup with Oregon and Wisconsin.

Oregon 71 Oklahoma State 63

 


 

#12 Wofford Terriers vs #5 Arkansas Razorbacks

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Arkansas finished 2nd in the SEC and is one of the more interesting styles to watch. Mike Anderson has his players play 40 minutes of hell, pressuring from all sides of the floor. Michael Qualls can jump out of a gym and is a major part of the Razorbacks free wheeling attack. 6’11” Forward Bobby Portis is high on many draft boards that can supply physicality inside and a possess a dominating post presence.

Wofford is used to the NCAA spotlight, appearing in their fourth tournament since 2010. This year though they might post their best team yet. Senior guard Karl Cochran is their leading scoring with just over 14 ppg and Junior guard Spencer Collins is an explosive threat when he gets going, currently shooting 45% from the field this season.

Photo Courtesy of CBSSports

Photo Courtesy of CBSSports

It is tough to pick another #12 over #5 upset here. Arkansas has worked hard to earn their seed, posting a 26 win season, their best since 1995. Razorbacks’ abusing style will have to shut down the Terriers scoring, by maintaining pressure on Cochran and Collins. Wofford did beat NC State and will be looking for their first tournament win this decade. In a high scoring game, Arkansas will have the horses at the end to grit through it.

Arkansas 82 Wofford 78

 


 

#13 Harvard Crimson vs #4 North Carolina Tar Heels

Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports

Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports

When on firing from all cylinders, North Carolina has the potential to beat anybody in the country. Likewise when they lose focus like in the ACC Final vs Notre Dame, they become beatable quickly. Marcus Paige is the engine that makes the Heels offense go. A fantastic creator on dribble drives can finish on both ends of the floor, averaging 13.1 ppg is only a small portion of what he brings to table. Yet at times Paige ends up doing too much for UNC that proves to cost them in the long run.

Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson are relentless rebounders as they are #2 in the country in rebounding as a team. When Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto get going and their athleticism starts showing they are equipped to be a force scoring wise. The biggest problem negating a long run by UNC is their level of focus an entire game. They can play above their ceilings in spurts and then drop down to inferior competition a minute later.

Tommy Amaker has taken his Harvard Crimson squad to the NCAA Tournament for the consecutive year. Returning most of his player’s from last year’s squad, the Crimson are poised for another early round upset. They had to fight to get here however, battling Yale in almost a winner-take all play-game to get here.

Photo Courtesy of gocrimson.com

Photo Courtesy of gocrimson.com

Harvard has made the the big plays when they  had to off the back of guards Wesley Saunders and All-Ivy point guard Siyani Chambers. Saunders, the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game (he also averages 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per), knocked down several big-time shots in the playoff game against Yale. Siyani Chambers, at 9.8 points and 4.3 assists per, is a terriffic guard who is a main distributor in their methodical half court offense.

Even though Harvard has experience, North Carolina is peaking at the right time and slowing these guys down when they’re at their best is nearly impossible. Look for Tokoto and Paige to lead the charge by slashing and shooting. Harvard won’t have an answer with Jackson and Meeks on the boards as well.

North Carolina 85 Harvard 73

 


 

#6 Xavier vs #11 Ole Miss

Photo Courtesy of Rant Sports

Photo Courtesy of Rant Sports

Xavier falls victim of getting over seeded, speculated as a bubble team received a generous #6 seed and will have to face a hungry Ole Miss Rebels team who just finished off a thrilling win over BYU in the First Four play-in game.

After a 9-9 Big East finish and early-season losses to UTEP, Long Beach State and Auburn.  The Musketeers won two games during the Big East Tournament in New York City. Despite the poor seeding, this team is good enough to make a run. Senior center Matt Stainbrook is a load inside and leads the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game. He also puts up 6.8 rebounds per. But Stainbrook is the only senior on the team (outside of Andrew Mitchell, who only appeared in 3 games this season).

Photo Courtesy of OleMiss.edu

Photo Courtesy of OleMiss.edu

Xavier’s inexperience certainly could be a problem against a senior-led Ole Miss team. Who carries a three-guard trio of Stefan Moody (16.3 ppg), Jarvis Summers (12.4 per), and Ladarius White (11.2) lead this club. Moody and Summers caught fire from downtown against BYU and have the ability to lead the Rebels past Xavier. Not great defensively, Ole Miss won’t have an answer for Stainbrook inside as they aren’t at all a big team.

Xavier graciously fell into the field this year and as a result will struggle with a challenging style that Ole Miss brings. Shooters from every corner, Summers and Moody won’t be stopped as they cruise past the Musketeers in a somewhat semi-upset.

Ole Miss 78 Xavier 69

 


 

#14 Georgia State  Panthers vs #3 Baylor Bears

Photo Courtesy of ourdailybears.com

Photo Courtesy of ourdailybears.com

The Baylor Bears are long, athletic and on a roll, heading into the Dance winners of six of their last eight games. Baylor swept Big 12 Tournament champ Iowa State and 5-seed West Virginia, and posted wins over Oklahoma and Texas. They scored 10 wins over NCAA Tournament teams.

They’re led by junior forward Rico Gathers, who is a clear-cut NBA prospect. Gathers is averaging a double-double at 11.7 points and 11.6 boards per game, and he’s the first order of business for teams trying to stop Baylor. 6-7 junior forward Taurean Prince isn’t bad either, averaging 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per. It’s always nice to have a senior point guard come March, and Montreal product Kenny Chery is a good one. He averages 11.4 points and 4 assists per. 6-6 forward Royce O’Neal (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.5 apg) is tough to matchup with as well.

The Panthers are one of the feel-good stories of the NCAAs, as Kevin Ware, the former Louisville guard who suffered a gruesome injury in the 2013 tournament, has made his way back to the Big Dance. The homegrown kid, who spent part of his childhood in Atlanta, averages just 7.7 points per game for Georgia State, but he scored 18 of the Panthers’ 38–yes, 38–in the team’s two-point Sun Belt championship win over Georgia Southern.

Junior guard R.J. Hunter, son of head coach Ron Hunter, who is known around college basketball for his charity work with “Samaritan’s Feet,” which donates shoes to those in need. R.J. is the best player on the team, averaging a ridiculous 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 1 block per game. Kentucky senior transfer point guard Ryan Harrow puts up 18.7 points and 3.7 assists per game.

As cool as the Panthers look on paper, they haven’t really been tested. Georgia State only played one NCAA Tournament team all season long–Iowa State, a game they lost, 81-58.

Baylor should have the length inside to dominate Georgia State. Harrow and Ware can create a lot off the ball, but Chery will hold him below their averages. Baylor takes it going away.

Baylor 75 Georgia State 57

 


 

#10 Ohio State Buckeyes vs #7 VCU Rams

Photo Courtesy of buckeyesports.com

Photo Courtesy of buckeyesports.com

Ohio State should make D’Angelo Russell a statue because he is the only reason why the Buckeyes are in the NCAA Tournament this year. The do-everything freshman guard averaged 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season, virtually willing the Buckeyes to 23 wins. (Senior forward Sam Thompson did average 10.3 ppg). There weren’t a whole lot of signature victories, but Ohio State did beat Indiana and Maryland, and took care of business in games they needed to.

The Rams brushed off a late-season three game losing streak and the loss of senior leader Briante Weber, who tore his ACL and MCL on January 31, to win four straight games in Brooklyn and capture the Atlantic 10 tournament title.

Photo Courtesy of wusa9.com

Photo Courtesy of wusa9.com

Senior forward Treveon Graham was a big reason for the Rams’ run, as he stepped up his game in the absence of Weber, scoring 20 points and coming up with 13 rebounds in VCU’s title game win over Dayton. The Rams are still one of the nation’s best defensive teams, priding themselves on “Havoc” and making things tough on their opponent. In order to create their havoc they will have to hone in on pressing the freshman  Russell all game.

Only way Ohio State wins this game is off the back of D’Angelo Russell. VCU has a lot of experienced guards that will make it tough for Sam Thompson to hurt them inside. VCU has done their best responding without Weber, as they do just enough to beat the pesky Buckeyes.

VCU 68 Ohio State 64

 


 

 

#15 Texas Southern Tigers vs #2 Arizona Wildcats

 

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Sean Miller has his Wildcats peaking at the right time. Freshman small forward Stanley Johnson has emerged as one of college basketball’s most premiere freshman talents. Averaging 14.1 ppg and collecting nearly 7 rebounds per game, it is a handful to slow down the 6th most efficient offense in the nation.

The size of Brandon Ashely and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are athletic and freaks of natures in the post. There is a reason why Arizona is one of the most shut down defensive teams in college basketball, they get after you with their size and length, as well as dictating the tempo with sharp point guard T.J. McConnell.

Texas Southern champions of the SWAC conference have played a rugud schedule with many NCAA Tournament teams. Playing Eastern Washington, SMU, Gonzaga and even knocking off Michigan State in East Lansing. The Tigers are led by  senior guard Madarious Gibbs and swingman Chris Thomas.

Unfortunately, Arizona is far and away the second toughest team in the region. Eyes poised for a rematch with Wisconsin the Wildcats should submerge the diminutive Texas Southern squad handily.

Arizona 80 Texas Southern 58

 


 

Sweet 16:

Wisconsin vs North Carolina

Baylor vs Arizona

 

Elite 8: 

Wisconsin vs Arizona

 

Regional Champion: 

Wisconsin Badgers

 

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