An NCAA Event area that started with 68 groups has been whittled to solely 16 in a matter of days, and all who withstood the primary weekend of the Massive Dance now have eyes on advancing even additional. With regional semifinal matchups set, scouting work has already begun for the Candy 16 because the groups remaining within the bracket are simply two wins away from reaching the Closing 4.
That is acquainted floor for packages like Arkansas, Houston and UCLA. However for the likes of Princeton and FAU, it marks uncharted territory. The rhythms of the common season are gone, and the opponents are unfamiliar. Whereas these seasons are already assured to go down in historical past for some packages, the chance to perform one thing legendary awaits.
Contemplating what we noticed in the course of the first weekend with No. 15 and 16 seeds profitable video games and beforehand dominant groups like No. 1 seeds Kansas and Purdue making early exits, it is most likely good to count on the surprising this week. In the end, simply 4 groups can be left standing by Sunday night time because the Massive Dance shrinks to a mere quartet of nationwide title contenders.
Now that the Candy 16 matchups are set, let’s take an early take a look at what’s forward for the Candy 16.
Thursday — T-Cellular Enviornment in Las Vegas
- Scouting the Huskies— UConn can beat opponents in a wide range of methods. Jordan Hawkins, Alex Karaban and Joey Calcaterra are glorious 3-point shooters. They get loads of open seems to be, too, due to the eye that Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan command within the publish. Sanogo is coming off a pair of monster performances on the NCAA Event‘s first weekend, and Clingan is a 7-foot-2 shot-blocking menace. UConn spent 5 consecutive weeks ranked within the top-five of the AP Prime 25 ballot earlier this season. Although the Huskies are only a No. 4 seed, they enter the Candy 16 wanting like a top-five staff as soon as once more.
- Scouting the Razorbacks — Arkansas dropped 4 of its final 5 video games getting into the NCAA Event earlier than pulling a stunner and taking down reigning champion Kansas final weekend. The Razorbacks are a horrible 3-point capturing staff however make up for it with relentless protection, which creates transition alternatives. Groups flip the basketball over 14.3 instances per sport towards the Razorbacks, who’ve 5 gamers averaging double figures. Coach Eric Musselman is simply as huge of a star as anybody on the roster as he tries to achieve a 3rd consecutive Elite Eight.
(2) UCLA vs. (3) Gonzaga
- Scouting the Bruins — UCLA might have one of the best pair of veteran leaders within the Candy 16 within the type of senior level guard Tyger Campbell and senior ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. The 2 lead the Bruins in scoring and have been by some battles throughout their careers. The Bruins are unusually reliant upon 2-pointers in an period that prioritizes 3-pointers. However Jaquez is aware of the right way to discover attractiveness, and the Bruins have developed into one of many nation’s high defensive squads over the course of the season.
- Scouting the Bulldogs — Gonzaga is led by a well-known face in Drew Timme because the senior ahead tops the roster in factors and rebounding. However, per ordinary, the Zags have a number of offensive weapons. Julian Strawther is a dynamic playmaker on the wing who has dramatically improved his 3-point capturing this season, and ahead Anton Watson has come on sturdy currently as properly. The Zags are a bit mercurial on protection as a result of they lack the elite rim safety they loved final season with Chet Holmgren on the roster. However maintaining with the Zags is a problem even once they aren’t enjoying a lot protection.
Thursday — Madison Sq. Backyard in New York
(4) Tennessee vs. (9) FAU
- Scouting the Volunteers — Tennessee’s id is discovered on the defensive finish of the ground because the Volunteers have ranked because the nation’s high defensive squad for many of the season, in accordance with KenPom.com. Opponents are averaging simply 57.3 factors per sport towards this bodily bunch, which imposes its will with a rotation of 4 bigs who aren’t afraid to select up some fouls whereas attempting to swat your shot. Offensively, senior guard Santiago Vescovi is the engine that makes issues go, particularly amid a season-ending harm to level guard Zakai Zeigler.
- Scouting the Owls — FAU is a superb 3-point capturing staff, each in quantity and share. The Owls wish to play quick, however additionally they defend. What’s arguably most vital about this staff, although, is its depth. FAU is among the many nationwide leaders in bench minutes. Nobody averages greater than 26 minutes per sport, and 9 gamers common a minimum of quarter-hour per contest. That permits FAU to maintain its offensive tempo and defensive depth excessive all through the sport.
(3) Kansas State vs. (7) Michigan State
- Scouting the Wildcats — Kansas State’s heartbeat is 5-8 level guard Markquis Nowell. He is the staff’s second-leading scorer and he led the Massive 12 in each assists and steals this season. Nowell and Keyontae Johnson make fairly a combo as Johnson is a dynamic and bodily wing able to scoring in any respect three ranges. The Wildcats are usually not an amazing 3-point capturing staff, however they wish to run and are glorious in transition. They power 14.8 turnovers per sport, so there are many fast-break alternatives for this fast-paced squad. First-year coach Jerome Tang is a steadying presence and Nationwide Coach of the 12 months candidate for the outstanding turnaround he is orchestrated.
- Scouting the Spartans — Michigan State’s two main scorers, Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser, each shoot higher than 40% from past the arc for a staff that is without doubt one of the finest within the nation by way of exterior capturing share. However because the Spartans confirmed in a second-round victory over No. 2 seed Marquette, they will win even when their exterior photographs aren’t falling if they’re locked in defensively. MSU made solely 2-of-16 long-range photographs in that sport however received 69-60 as a result of it pressured 16 turnovers and received the battle of second-chance factors 15-8. Walker and Hauser are the sorts of veterans you need this time of yr, and the legendary Tom Izzo is among the many finest March coaches of all-time.
Friday– T-Cellular Heart in Kansas Metropolis
(1) Houston vs. (5) Miami
- Scouting the Cougars — Questions surrounded the well being of star guard Marcus Sasser getting into the NCAA Event, however he answered them resoundingly in a second spherical victory over Auburn by scoring 22 factors on 7-of-14 capturing. The Cougars outscored Auburn 50-23 within the second half of that sport to roar again from a 10-point deficit and reveal simply how unimaginable they’re when at their finest. This staff ranks within the top-10 at KenPom in each offensive and defensive effectivity and has few discernible flaws. Sasser is the star, however 5 gamers common double figures for this squad.
- Scouting the Hurricanes — Miami is undersized however would not thoughts a bit. The Hurricanes have elite guards and a dynamic small-ball huge man in Norchad Omier, who’s 6-7 however rebounds as if he is 7-1. He is amongst a gaggle of 4 Miami gamers averaging 13 or extra factors per sport. Isaiah Wong is the main scorer and a well-known face in his fourth season as a key participant for the ‘Canes. Jordan Miller and Nijel Pack are additionally harmful offensive weapons who make it troublesome for opposing defenses to close everybody down without delay.
- Scouting the Longhorns — Texas ranks No. 6 nationally in Division I expertise, in accordance with KenPom, and it exhibits in the way in which it performs. The Longhorns rank among the many nation’s finest groups at avoiding turnovers and barely missed a beat after the midseason firing of coach Chris Beard. Combo guard Marcus Carr leads the staff in scoring, however Texas has quite a few weapons and a deep bench. 5 gamers common 9.1 or extra factors per sport for a squad that appears inconceivable to fluster.
- Scouting the Musketeers — Offense is what Xavier does finest. The Musketeers wish to play quick and are one of many high 3-point capturing groups within the nation due to glorious perimeter threats Souley Increase and Adam Kunkel. However the Musketeers can beat you in a wide range of methods. Even amid the lack of key ahead Zach Freemantle to harm, Xavier nonetheless has a few inside producers in Jerome Hunter and Jack Nunge. That is coach Sean Miller’s first season again with this system, and he is received his staff one win away from returning to the Elite Eight for the primary time since 2008, which was the fourth yr of his first five-year run as coach.
Friday — KFC Yum! Heart in Louisville
- Scouting the Crimson Tide — Alabama is the No. 1 total seed within the NCAA Event for a motive. With a deep rotation stuffed with elite athletes, together with a handful of NBA prospects, the Crimson Tide are glorious on each ends. They rating 82.3 factors per sport on a whopping 10.1 made 3-pointers and likewise rank third in defensive effectivity, per KenPom. Versatile freshman forwards Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney are each probably first-round NBA Draft picks, however this staff additionally has veteran guards similar to Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly offering management.
- Scouting the Aztecs — San Diego State hangs its hat on protection. The Aztecs are holding opponents to solely 63.1 factors per sport and restrict them to only 28.8% 3-point capturing. They like to play at a sluggish tempo and are glorious at forcing opponents to play sluggish. Bodily guard Matt Bradley is the one SDSU participant who averages double figures. This is not a horny offensive staff, however the Aztecs are totally purchased in to the imposing fashion that sixth-year coach Brian Dutcher prefers as they make their first Candy 16 look since 2014.
(6) Creighton vs. (15) Princeton
- Scouting the Bluejays — Creighton’s glorious protection facilities round 7-foot rim protector Ryan Kalkbrenner, who makes scoring inside a chore for opponents. Actually, Creighton is so prepared to allow you to try to rating towards Kalkbrenner that its technique is to actively funnel opponents into his area. The concept is for Creighton to keep away from fouling on the perimeter, and that exhibits up in a few methods. Kalkbrenner finally ends up blocking a ton of photographs, and opponents not often get to the free-throw line. Offensively, Kalkbrenner leads in scoring, although all 5 starters common double digits. The Bluejays do not have a ton of depth, which is another excuse why actively avoiding fouls works for this staff.
- Scouting the Tigers — Princeton was a defensive juggernaut in the course of the opening weekend of the NCAA Event by holding Arizona 27 factors under its common and Missouri 16 factors under its common. The Tigers additionally rebound like maniacs, which limits the variety of second-chance factors that opponents are in a position to accumulate. If the Tigers proceed defending like they did final weekend, they are going to be a tricky out. Offensively, the gamers to look at are Tosan Evbuomwan, a flexible ahead, and Ryan Langborg, who hoists 6.2 makes an attempt from 3-point vary per sport.