4 Things to Watch on Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament
Yesterday was one of the craziest March Madness days in recent history.
We saw two 3 seeds fall to 14 seeds and saw many other games come down to the wire.
It was a great day -- there's no doubt about it.
But, now that I think about it, today could turn out to be a disappointing day. How could it possibly top yesterday's action? How could it fulfill my needs of excitement and exhilaration?
Well, it's two-fold. One, it's basketball, and two, it's March Madness.
Now everyday might not be the same and we may not see a day like yesterday for a long time. But, with that being said, what's today's games have in store for us?
Northern Iowa's Outstanding Efficiency
According to our Game Simulator, Northern Iowa will handle Wyoming in their opening round game in Seattle. Don't get me wrong, Wyoming -- as a 12 seed -- isn't a team to sleep on. The Cowboys are 32nd in Defensive Efficiency and have been hot as of late, winning their conference tournament. However, Northern Iowa is just a much better overall team.
The Panthers possess a nERD (11.59) nearly eight points superior to Wyoming's (3.60). nERD indicates by how many points a team should beat an average opponent on a neutral floor. The Panthers' defense is just 13 spots better than the Cowboys', but that won't likely be the deciding factor in today's matchup. Northern Iowa, by operating through star big man Seth Tuttle, is one of the best offensive teams in the country, in terms of efficiency. They may play at a snail's pace, but much like the Wisconsin Badgers, the Panthers are super efficient. They fall within the 93rd percentile in Offensive Efficiency while Wyoming is in the 51st percentile -- not a very good place to be in offensively when facing a team such as Northern Iowa.
A Lightning Fast 5-12 Matchup
The Buffalo Bulls and the West Virginia Mountaineers are set to meet up this afternoon in what might be the most likely 12-5 upset game of the tournament. As a matter of fact, our numbers give Coach Hurley's boys a decent chance of knocking off the Mountaineers.
When you look at one key stat though, I think the Bulls might have an even better chance. That measure? Pace. Buffalo likes to get up and down the court and score in bunches. They're 32nd in the nation in pace and are in the 83rd percentile when it comes to Offensive Efficiency. West Virginia's style of play might just play into the Bulls hands. The Mountaineers play at an even higher average pace and embrace uptempo play. If the Bulls can hit their shots and play a little more defense, they could win this game. But, if nothing else, this game will be fun to watch as the two teams race up and down the court.
St. John's Guards
With their starting center, Chris Obekpa, suspended for today's game, the Red Storm will likely have to score in bunches to pick up a first round win. St. John's is short on big men capable of replacing Obekpa, so they'll have to rely heavily on their many guards -- including Sir'Dominic Pointer, who (despite being listed as a guard) could see some time at the power forward and center positions today.
It won't be an easy task for Pointer and his running mates to score enough to advance to the second round. They face a San Diego State team that ranks third in the nation in Defensive Efficiency and operates at a very slow pace -- 288th fastest in the country. Our numbers do give the slight edge to St. John's, but it is ever so slight. We project a very, very close game. We'll have to wait and see if St. John's can overcome San Diego State and their stellar defense in a competitive 8 versus 9 matchup.
The Two Providence Stars
In March Madness, there's always certain players you watch out for -- ones that could take over a game at any time or even take their team to unimagined heights. Some of those guys we've talked about this year are D'Angelo Russell, Seth Tuttle, and Jerian Grant. However, those aren't the only players capable of such influence. In fact, Providence has two such stars -- Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton.
Dunn is an outstanding point guard, with size, length and unique passing ability. He stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis, while his sidekick LaDontae Henton does a lot more of the scoring. Henton is primarily a small forward with a wide array of offensive talents, but the Friars have been playing him a lot as a stretch 4 as of late, giving them an incredible offensively gifted lineup with essentially four guards. Will Dunn and Henton lead their Friars to a first round win over a hot Dayton team? Or can Archie Goodwin and the Flyers keep the two superstars at bay? We'll have to wait 'til the very last game of the night to see who triumphs in this pivotal 6 versus 11 game.
Here's to another day as exciting as yesterday. Enjoy!