Blog Entry

Five must-see second-round games

Posted on: March 13, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 11:53 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander

Oh, we have PLENTY coming for you in the next few hours. Loads and loads of content here at the blog and everywhere on the site. It's a frenzy right now, with everyone getting their words and voices out there.

But mind if I take a look ahead already? Here are five games you need to be watching come Thursday and Friday.

George Mason (8) vs. Villanova (9), Friday, 2:10, TNT: The 8/9 game in the East pits 26-6 Mason against the free-falling Wildcats, who are 21-11. Beyond the tactics and strategy, it's the familiarity of the George Mason brand with the car-wreck, rubbernecking appeal of Villanova. The Wildcats have gone 5-10 in their past 15, while Mason is 16-1 down the stretch. Many are going to like GMU to win, including me, and so expect a late push on Wednesday in favor of Villanova.

Winner of this game gets Ohio State. If you want as much TV urgency as possible, you want Mason to do it. Look out if GMU can challenge OSU some time over the weekend. A delectable one in Cleveland on Friday.

UNLV (8) vs. Illinois (9), Friday, 9:20, TBS: I'm picking two of the 8/9 games, though I could easily take three (Butler-ODU is a basketball purist's delight). Here, we've got a storyline that writers and TV guys absolutely love and embrace: the coach going against his former team. In this case, it's Vegas coach Lon Kruger facing the school that never fully embraced him. The argument could be had for the other way around as well, but let's move on.

Vegas always finds itself in the 8/9 or 7/10 tilts. That's just what it does. This one's probably the toughest 8/9 to pick. Does Illinois' season die on the spot in in Tulsa on Friday?

Vanderbilt (5) vs. Richmond (12), Thursday, 4:10, TBS: Lots and lots of folks are gonna have this as their 12-over-five pick, and I can't blame them. Before I get to gushing on this game (which I'll be seeing in Denver), let's pause to realize that Richmond was probably not getting in the field if it didn't win the A-10 tournament Sunday. We get this skin-of-their-teeth close calls with auto bids from the committee every other year, it seems, and it's asinine. Richmond's a 10 in my mind. Vandy's slotted perfectly. Now, last season, Richmond ran into Saint Mary's in a great 7/10 matchup that went to the Gaels. Vanderbilt's not played well, largely, under Kevin Stallings in the NCAA tournament. 

There's a lot of talent on the floor in this one, with Vanderbilt's John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor going against Kevin Anderson and 6-10 Justin Harper of the Spiders. Absolutely in love with this game. It's happening Thursday in Denver.

St. John's (6) vs. Gonzaga (11), Thursday, 9:45, CBS: What will happen in another good one Thursday in Denver? Gonzaga's had a history of underachieving in the NCAA tournament. It doesn't seem like that on the surface, but anyone who's followed the sport knows just how frustrating the Zags have been in March for the better part of the past decade. Now it gets to face a senior-laden team with no tournament experience whatsoever. Why's this game must-watch? Because I can make the argument it's the most unpredictable of any game outside the 8/9s.

St. John's doesn't have D.J. Kennedy for the rest of the season due to an ACL injury he suffered in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. So, without him, that's why this team's vulnerable. Something to remember: Steve Lavin was incredibly successful in the first weekend when he coached at UCLA years back.

Texas (4) vs. Oakland (13), Friday, 12:15, CBS: Texas gets to play in Tulsa. Now, it may not appear to be on the surface, but this is a GREAT matchup, people. Oakland's Keith Benson is a future pro with great ability and low-post savvy. He's more than just that though: he can score with the best of the big boys. And now, he'll be in a battle in the paint with Tristan Thompson.

The funny thing about this game is both teams got the short end of the stick with the matchup. I've got no problem with Oakland as a 13, but it couldn't have asked for a more difficult four to play than Texas. And how is Texas a four, anyway? It gets shafted, and in the process, has to face the most competent 13 in the field, though Morehead State could have something to say about that.

Photos: AP

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Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: March 16, 2011 6:44 pm

Five must-see second-round games

3-4-5-6 seeds, what's the difference?
You cannnot be serious!!!  Have you ever looked at a bracket?  Do you know the percentages?  The difference between a 3 and a 4 is enough to bellyache about having to run through the No 1 seed.  Another thing, a 3 is a top 9-12 team; therefore likely a Top 10 team - while a 6 seed is a 21-24 team; therefore, barely in the Top 25.  BIG DIFFERENCE.

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:52 pm

Five must-see second-round games

SU played a patsy schedule?  huh?  their SOS was 29th overall... and it is influenced by how their opponents perform... Name anyone who thought playing Michigan State would not help the RPI much with an out of conference game...   Texas was 15th (SOS), so?   both played comperable schedules which is the top 6-8% difficulty for all D1 schools...   BTW, SU's schedule last year was in the top 10....  oh and they are not losing to Indiana State...  

Since: Mar 12, 2008
Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:40 am

Five must-see second-round games

3-4-5-6 seeds, what's the difference? Quit bellyaching about where your team is seeded.  They're all pretty good teams and pretty much all capable of beating each other. Most of them are unlikely to make it past the Elite 8, never mind win it all, but they offer good games and much excitement for their fans and basketball fans in general.
Didn't make it to the big dance? Maybe your team is better suited for the NIT, or that other tournament whose name I can't remember. Getting into the NCAA's (and getting bounced right out is almost a lock for about half the teams in the tournament. Put those same teams in the NIT and maybe they're good enough to make some noise. In any case, each game has its own appeal, and the only appeal for the lower seeded teams is to their fan base. So #13 fans, would you rather lose in the "1st" round or maybe win a couple of games in the NIT?
I follow a "mid-major" team and they've had their moments in the sun, but I'm realistic about them ever winning an NCAA title. I'd be very satisfied if they won the NIT though.
I guess it all depends upon one's perspective.

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:13 pm

Five must-see second-round games

I think the temple vs penn st. game should be a must watch and S. Indiana could shock syracuse, Butler vs Old Dom. also should be good game?  I would say there are close to a dozen really good games between thursday and friday?  To make it sould like there are only 5 is very misleading?

Since: Aug 20, 2009
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:27 pm

Five must-see second-round games

Hey Dick Vitale and everyone else complaining that their team didn't make the tournament: Colorado, St Mary's, etc... Please Shut Up. <br /><br />My Aztecs had the 34 RPI in 2009 and went to the NIT. I didn't complain. We earned a spot in the NIT then, just like we earned a spot in the NCAA now.<br /><br />Please SHUT UP about a few teams not making it in. They could have won their conference tourney. They could have won a few more games when in counted. <br /><br />This is not the BCS where only 2 elite teams have a shot at the National Title. This is a tournament of 68 teams. Get over it. The teams that didn't make it, did not deserve to. Face the facts. <br /><br />Try harder next time. <br /><br />Stop Complaining. Shut Up. The NCAA Tournament is the best representative system in all of sports. Please, once again. Shut Up. That means you Dick Vitale you ungrateful son of a b**ch. <br /><br />I hate when people scream about injustice when all I see is justice. This is a tournament open to 68 teams. Are you kidding? Any one else feel this way about all the talking head the last few days?<br /><br />Okay I had to get that off my chest...Let the fun begin. Hope is in the air!!!<br />

Since: Dec 17, 2010
Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:16 am

Five must-see second-round games

Michigan/Tennessee, and Cincinnati/Missouri are the top two matchups in the 2nd round.  I can't believe neither made the list.  I think he is just stating his upsets through an article.  I like Oakland to play Texas tough too, I think they will make a run to the sweet sixteen.

Since: Jan 11, 2008
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:55 am

Five must-see second-round games

Cincy Mizzou is the must see match up of the first round, that and who ever wins the play in game v G-Town.  Chris Wright better watch out, because there is going to be a lot of hand slappin' going on!

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: March 15, 2011 9:40 am

Five must-see second-round games

To me, this year more than any, all of the 7/10 and even 6/11 games are more like 8/9 seed games.   They all seem to be toss ups between two evenly matched teams.   It should make for an exciting first round, oh damn, I mean 2nd round.

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: March 15, 2011 8:28 am

Five must-see second-round games

Matt - thanks for agreeing with me that my Horns were shafted.
Aztec....I agree, TX should have gotten a higher seed.

Just play a patsy schedule like Syracuse at home

Here you lose credibility...SU played two tournament teams OOC (one on a neutral court).  And 10 conference teams that are in the tournament, with SU winning the majority of their away games. 

How many tournament teams did Texas play this year?  Again..not busting on Texas.  But am saying SU's schedule is far from patsy and compared to Texas, looks pretty good.  Another example is UConn...SU whipped UConn by double digits in the Dome.  TX lost to UConn at home.  On a Neutral Court, SU lost to UConn in OT, doing better than Mich State and UK. 

Hate on a different school in your crying.  

Since: Mar 14, 2011
Posted on: March 14, 2011 10:52 am

Don't you mean five must-see second-round games?

Don't you mean five must-see "Second" round games?

After all, according to the NCAA and their bass-ackwards round renaming scheme for the tournament, there are only four "first-round" games altogether!

This also means that 60 out of the 68 teams entered in the tournament get a "first round bye".

I cannot say enough how completely asinine this is and how much it is likely to confuse people to have the round of 64 referred to as the "Second Round".

Dumb move, NCAA.

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