Come to Boston for the Springtime

13 Mar

East Region (Boston):

2nd Round must-see games:

#5 Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. #12 Harvard (24-6) Thursday 4:40PM Albuquerque, NM

In what will clearly be the most intellectual game of the 2nd round the Commodores draw the Ivy League’s Crimson.  Harvard may have backed into the NCAA tournament, avoiding a 1 game playoff with Penn thanks to Penn’s loss to Princeton in the regular season finale.  Harvard are led by forwards Kyle Casey (11.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Keith Wright (10.7ppg, 8.1rpg) who rank 1st and 2nd on the team in scoring and rebounding.  One problem the Crimson may have with Vanderbilt would come inside where Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli has 3 inches and 15 pounds on Wright.  Where the Commodores have another advantage is on the perimeter with John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley all shooting at least 40% from behind the arc and Harvard is 139thin 3-point fg% at 33.4%, that could be an issue for Harvard in this game.

Festus Ezeli could be key for Vanderbilt

#7 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. #10 West Virginia (19-13) Thursday 7:20PM Pittsburgh, PA

Mark Few must have a perpetual enemy on the Selection Committee.  In 2008 his Gonzaga Bulldogs got a 7 seed and traveled to Raleigh, NC to face #10 and Carolina school Davidson.  In 2010 8-seed Gonzaga received a 2nd round game with #1 Syracuse in Buffalo, NY.  Now in 2012, the Bulldogs are again a 7-seed and must travel east to Pittsburgh to face #10 West Virginia (who have a 60 mile trip to Pittsburgh), not exactly geographical generosity for Gonzaga.

Besides Gonzaga’s traveling hardships this game is full of interesting match ups all over the floor.  In the back court you have Gonzaga’s freshman Kevin Pangos vs. West Virginia’s senior Darryl “truck” Bryant.  On the perimeter you have one of the Big East’s most dynamic players Kevin Jones, and Gonzaga’s versatile swingman Elias Harris.  Finally, in the paint you have two tough and rugged big men; Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre and West Virginia’s resident mountain man Deniz Kilicli.

One first round in-game match up to watch:

#3 Florida State (24-9) vs. #14 St. Bonaventure (20-11) Friday 2:45 PM Nashville, TN

The best in-game battle to watch in this region takes place in the paint.  You’ve heard the saying, “men among boys”, well for Florida State’s Bernard James it’s the truth.  The 27-year old James took time away from basketball to serve his country and now has led the Seminoles in rebounding, blocked shots, an ACC Tournament title and a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament.  He will face off against one of the nation’s best kept secrets in St. Bonaventure big man Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson has picked up his game since a Feb. 15 loss to Temple, having averaged 26 points, 9.3 rebounds and five double-doubles in a 7-1 stretch that ended in an Atlantic 10 championship.  In the conference tournament he averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in the 3 games in Atlantic City.

One anticipated Round of 32 game:

#1 Syracuse (31-2) vs. #8 Kansas State (21-10) Saturday Pittsburgh, PA

The reason I like this game is one word, rebounding.  Kansas State is one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country, and Syracuse has trouble rebounding on the offensive end because of the zone they play.  If the Orange struggle making shots, there could be a lot of one-and-done opportunities, giving the Wildcats the chance to keep a potential game close.

College Hoop Haven

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