MARSHALL - With the NCAA tournament field set, there are some very intriguing matchups as we look over each region.
I will be breaking down the second-round matchups in each region - one region per day - until the tournament starts Thursday, excluding the four first-round (play-in) games.
Today, I will break down the South Region.
No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin is the No. 8 team in the country in assists, so the Lumberjacks really know how to share the basketball.
SFA went 31-2 on the year and have two pretty good scorers in Desmond Haymon and Jacob Parker.
This is an offense that is built to give an ever-aggressive Shaka Smart defense all it can handle.
No. 6 Ohio State
vs. No. 11 Dayton
No. 11 versus No. 6 matchups are always entertaining and this one could prove to be no different. Ohio State couldn't get past Michigan in the Big Ten tournament and the Flyers have shown they can win big games.
They have wins over fellow NCAA?tournament teams St. Louis and UMass, which are the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively.
Florida should advance easily over Albany or Mount St. Mary's and will likely play the Pittsburgh in the second round.
I think VCU survives a close contest versus the Lumberjacks for a date with the Pac 12's UCLA.
Ohio State has a playmaker in Aaron Craft that will make too many plays for the Buckeyes and they will get past Dayton to earn a matchup with Andrew Wiggins and Kansas.
Syracuse should rebound to defeat Western Michigan and New Mexico has too much talent for Stanford to handle.
Also, here are a few general trends and suggestions to keep in mind when filling out your bracket:
- 1. No No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed. EVER!
- 2. Since the tournament's inception, there has only been two years where at least one No. 1 seed didn't make the final four.
- 3. At least one No. 11 seed has beaten a No. 6 seed in 11 of the past 12 years with three No. 6 seeds falling in the first round last year.
- 4. No. 8 seeds vs. No. 9 seeds are the biggest toss-up as you can have. Since 1997, No. 8 and No. 9 seeds have split their games evenly.
- 5. Generally, picking no less than six and no more than 14 upsets in a given tournament is the safest route.
- 6. Do your research. Having the inside track on the little things in the game that build up to victories can help you immensely.
- 7. As a side note, free-throw shooting may be one of the most important statistics come March. Teams who can knock down free throws late have a better chance of surviving and advancing.
The East Region is next.