Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NCAA First Round Preview: South Region

6:50 PM Thursday, Louisville66.7 possessions
16West. Kentucky2.9%56.237.919.430.118.8

7:15 PM Thursday, Portland65.3 possessions
5Wichita St.73.4%70.853.724.136.229.4
Had it not been for a highly questionable call by CAA official Dwayne Gladden in the closing seconds of last season's BracketBusters game between these two teams last February in Wichita, VCU's improbable run to the Final Four probably never would have happened. The Shockers' consolation prize was an NIT championship, but they get the opportunity to exact revenge Thursday night.

7:27 PM Thursday, Albuquerque64.7 possessions
14South Dakota St.30.5%69.149.516.829.524.3
You probably don't need a guy like me to tell you that South Dakota State's Nate Wolters is a good player, but I will anyway. Dude averages 21.5 points, 5 rebounds and, most amazingly, 6 assists per game. Even though he takes over a third of the Jackrabbits' shots while he's on the floor, and more than a quarter of his teammates' field goal attempts come from a Wolters pass.

9:20 PM Thursday, Louisville63.7 possessions
8Iowa St.58.4%68.949.116.233.619.3

9:45 PM Thursday, Portland70.6 possessions
13New Mexico St.16.8%71.147.722.636.630.6

9:57 PM Thursday, Albuquerque68.5 possessions
On how many different levels would the statement, "Colorado will win the 2012 Pac-12 basketball tournament" have been if it was uttered in 1999?

7:15 PM Friday, Greensboro68.3 possessions
This projection is one that really jumps out at folks. A fifteen seed with nearly a 1-in-4 chance of knocking off a two? And that two is Duke? In Greensboro? Hell, that was my reaction, too. But Lehigh is not really a typical 15-seed. They're #87 in the TAPE ratings, which is pretty high for a team seeded that low. And, too, Duke is not really your typical 2-seed. Folks are papering over a whole lot of really weak performances--three losses at home, a near-loss to Virginia Tech in the last week of the season--just because, well, Duke is Duke. And, finally, this is still projected to be a 9.5-point game; the percentages are a bit closer because both teams rely heavily on the three-point shot, which leads to more variance in their performance and a more uncertain outcome.

9:45 PM Friday, Greensboro61.6 possessions
7Notre Dame50.8%62.845.915.528.726.8
This is the most evenly-matched game of the first round (and yes, I'm still referring to the Thursday/Friday games as the first round--and the NCAA should, too), and what's striking about this one is not just that the final score is predicted to be that close, but that all the peripheral numbers are so close as well.

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