Welcome to the round of 32 hoops fans. We're hoping there are some tight games today. The first round was great with three overtime games (one went double OT) and some really big time performances. Jimmer Fredett's 37-point game, Armon Bassett's 32-point outburst in Ohio's win over Georgetown and the 28 points dropped by Xavier's Jordan Crawford highlighted the first two days.
Here's a breakdown of the first set of second-round games.
East Region second round games
At San Jose: No.11 Washington (25-9) vs. No.3 New Mexico (30-4) – New Mexico was a little shake in its first-round game against Montana on Thursday. But that could be chalked up to tournament jitters. Just check the free-throw percentage (13-for-23). The Lobos only shot 67 percent for the season, but missing 10 in a tournament game was too much. The good news for the Lobos is that their three stars –Roman Martinez, Darington Hobson, Dairese Gary– all shot the ball well. Washington is out to prove the PAC-10 isn’t week. And the way Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas played against Marquette, they have the capability to advance. Both teams like to shoot and score, so expect a track meet today.
At New Orleans: No.9 Wake Forest (20-10) vs. No.1 Kentucky (33-2) – Wake Forest needed overtime to take out Texas on Thursday. Ishmael Smith hit a late jumper to secure the win. The Demon Deacons managed 81 points in the win, but they needed overtime to get there. Wake will need to score at least that much in regulation to stay with Kentucky. Speaking of the Wildcats, the versatility in their starting lineup is impressive. They can beat you at any position. John Wall wasn’t needed to do much against East Tennessee State on Thursday and he still scored 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Eric Bledsoe (29) and Patrick Patterson (22) did the heavy lifting. Kentucky will roll in this one.
West Region second round games
At San Jose: No.13 Murray State (31-4) vs. No.5 Butler (29-4) – Murray State is balanced in it scoring, with five players averaging at least 10 points per game. The Racers are going to need to be every bit as balance against a Butler team that proved in its win over UTEP on Thursday that it could defend the post and the perimeter. The Butler offense is just as potent as its defense. Shelvin Mack went crazy with seven three-pointers in Thursday’s win over UTEP. Butler’s best player, Gordon Hayward, didn’t have a great game with 13 points on 2-for-8 shooting. But he’ll be better and this one and Butler will move on.
At Oklahoma City: No.7 BYU (30-5) vs. No.2 Kansas State (27-7) – This will be the biggest challenge yet for Kansas State. Jimmer Fredette scored 37 against Florida despite being surrounded by multiple defenders on a lot of occasions. Fredette has such great range that he has to be picked up as soon as he steps over the halfcourt line. Kansas State has everything it takes to be a Final Four team. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente are a great guard combo, while Bronx native Curtis Kelly stepped up in a big way against North Texas in the first round. BYU’s Fredette will get his, but the Cougars need more than just him to slow down the Wildcats.
Midwest second round games
At Providence: No.14 Ohio (22-14) vs. No.6 Tennessee (26-8) – This game won’t be the wipeout some might think it should be. Ohio, believe it or not, had a relatively easy time against Georgetown. They didn’t have to expend a ton of energy in the win. And Tennessee’s lack of real a scoring punch could play into Ohio’s hands. Ohio’s backcourt crew of Armon Bassett (32 points) and D.J. Copper (23 points) had one of the best combined games of any backcourt in the tournament so far. Wayne Chism and Scotty Hopson will have to play above their heads on both sides of the ball for the Volunteers to win this one. They will and the Volunteers will advance, barely.
At Oklahoma City: No.9 Northern Iowa (29-4) vs. No.1 Kansas (33-2) – Kansas needed a strong second half to walk away from Lehigh in the first round. That won’t be a problem against Northern Iowa. The Panthers survived a thriller against UNLV in the first round. They won’t have nearly as much success against a deep and talented Kansas team. Northern Iowa’s problem will be scoring. They don’t have enough of it. Jordan Eglseder, Adam Koch and Kwadzo Ahelegbe are all capable players. And Ali Farokhmanesh, who it the big three against UNLV proved he can score a little. But they will need to be great to slow down Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich. The odds are against that.
South Region second round games
At Providence: No.10 St. Mary’s (27-5) vs. Villanova (25-7) – Villanova needed all of the strength it could muster to get by Robert Morris in overtime. Scottie Reynolds was terrible from the field (2-for-15), but he was money on the free throw line (15-for-16) and finished with 20 points. You can be sure that won’t happen twice. But he’ll need some help. Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes managed only six points each, while Antonio Pena didn’t even score. Omar Samhan (29 points, 12 rebounds) and Mickey McConnell (23 points) were just money against Richmond. It won’t be that easy against Villanova, which has the size to bang with Samhan. But Samhan usually finds a way to get it done. This will be another barn-burner for the Wildcats.
At: New Orleans: No.11 Old Dominion (27-8) vs. Baylor (26-7) – Baylor won’t find it easy to slow down an Old Dominion team that has great size. Frank Hassell (15 points, 9 reb), Keyon Carter (11 pts, 6 reb) and Gerald Lee (9 pts, 3 reb) really did a number on Notre Dame’s frontcourt. That can be attributed to the size of the three. Lee (6-10, 250), Hassell (6-9, 245) and Carter (6-8, 218) can bang with any frontcourt. Baylor’s backcourt of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter has carried it all season with help from Ekpe Udoh in the paint. Udoh averaged nearly a double-double. Udo is going to need an A+ game against Old Dominion’s monster frontcourt players.