As we posted previously, it was a big few days for the non-BCS schools. Morehead State, San Diego State, BYU, Temple, Richmond, Butler, Gonzaga and George Mason all won opening-round games. Princeton, Utah State and Oakland had near misses.
Saturday’s games won’t be any easier to predict. Here are some key games that involve at least one non-BCS school to keep an eye on.
Morehead State vs. Richmond: Can Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried dominate the paint again? He had 12 points and 17 rebounds against Louisville. Faried didn’t shoot well from the field, but his presence on defense was enough to give the Cardinals fits. More importantly, the Eagles’ Demonte Harper gained a lot of confidence after draining the winning shot with 4.2 seconds left. Richmond won’t be an easy out, though. Kevin Anderson had 25 points, his fourth straight game of 21 or more, in Thursday’s upset of Vanderbilt.
Temple vs. San Diego State: Temple coach Fran Dunphy finally one an opening-round tournament game. Can Juan Ferandez and Ramone Moore carry the Owls to the Sweet 16? They can if Scootie Reynolds, one of five double-digit scorers for the Owls, can find his stroke after missing seven straight games with a foot fracture. Reynolds played six minutes in Thursday’s win over Penn State.
Butler vs. Pittsburgh: It’ll be strength vs. experience in this one. Pittsburgh has the size and the depth, while Butler has the experience. Andrew Smith, Matt Howard and Shevlin Mack were key players on last season’s Butler team that advanced to the championship game. Will this be enough to stop Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker? It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Bulldogs advance, given Pitt’s penchant for losing big games in the tournament.
Gonzaga vs. BYU: You’d think these two programs, arguably two of the most well-known non-BCS schools, would’ve met during the regular season. But they didn’t. Gonzaga had a surprisingly easy time with St. John’s. Much of that was attributed to junior guard Marquise Carter, who had a career-high 24 points. It was the seventh time in 10 games Carter had eclipsed double figures. Mind you he averaged 6.5 points per game this season. We all know about BYU and Jimmer Fredette. The question is will he get the necessary help he needs.