NCAA Tournament: Sunday Second Round Notes

18 Mar

10 Butler vs 2 Purdue

My analysis for this game can be found here 


ATS: Butler +3.5

O/U: Over 144

11 Syracuse vs 3 Michigan State

As always against Syracuse, the first thing you look at is how Michigan State performed against zones this year, and the answer is an unsurprising “excellent”. Per Synergy, Sparty scored in the 89th percentile nationally in zone offense, but of course facing Syracuse’s long 2-3 on short prep is another story. Sparty does have all pieces needed to bust zone with sharp shooting wings, outstanding ball movement, and bigs who are adept at working in the middle of floor. In regard to latter, look for Ben Carter to get some serious run today. Tom Izzo trusts him and he’s an excellent passer from the free throw line extended, and he could see 15-20 minutes if freshman sensation Jaren Jackson is struggling to figure things out in the halfcourt against the Orange. Offensively, the Cuse are likely in trouble. They rely heavily on dribble penetration, drawing contact, and offensive rebounding. All three of those areas are hard to achieve against Michigan State, as Izzo’s defense is predicated on excellent and reliant help, and Sparty will actually be the team with the decided advantage on the offensive glass, as rebounding out of the zone is always a massive issue for the Orange.

BRACKET: Michigan State

ATS: Michigan State -9.5

O/U: Under 128.5

7 Texas A&M vs 2 North Carolina

We’ll see how long Roy Williams can keep his effective small ball lineup on the floor against massive Texas A&M. While UNC’s 2PT% defense has been solid overall, the Heels have actually been poor in rim defense with the small lineup, clocking in at 225th nationally in defending the rim, per Between Bob Williams and Tyler Davis, the Aggies are looking to pound it inside at every possession, and Roy might have to turn to Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks sooner rather than later. On the other end however, the small ball lineup will eat up the Aggies’ defense. Texas A&M can’t guard UNC’s mobility in man, and Theo Pinson has been a one man zone shredder when the Aggies switch into zone, which they do frequently, and often within the same possession. If UNC’s small lineup can effectively defend, the Heels are going to run away. If Roy is forced to go big, this is going to be a rock fight, as Brooks and Manley have a net negative effect on the offense.


ATS: UNC -6.5

O/U: Under 152

7 Nevada vs 2 Cincinnati 

My analysis of this game can be found here

BRACKET: Cincinnati

ATS: Cincinnati -7

O/U: Under 137.5

5 Clemson vs 4 Auburn

The efficiency of Clemson’s offense against an outstanding defense in NMSU surprised me, and they actually matchup better against Auburn, as the Tigers don’t have the length that has given Clemson issues this year. Clemson has been efficient vs zones and Brad Brownell’s teams are always excellent in transition denial, which will force Auburn to execute pick and roll in the halfcourt against an excellent pick and roll defense. That said, Auburn’s man to man in the halfcourt has been effective against pick and roll heavy teams, and Brownell has restructured his offense more for ball screens than motion the past two seasons. Ultimately, this game is going to be played at Clemson’s tempo, and with their ability to score against Auburn’s matchup zone (which Pearl likes to use in slower tempo games), the orange Tigers could pull off the very minor upset.

BRACKET: Clemson

ATS: Clemson +1.5

O/U: Under 146.5

16 UMBC vs 9 Kansas State

My analysis for this game can be found here.

BRACKET: Kansas State

ATS: Kansas State -10

O/U: Under 136

9 Florida State vs 1 Xavier

Last year Chris Mack coached circles around Leonard Hamilton, humiliating the Noles by switching between 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones, and FSU was boatraced out of the tournament. While the personnel has largely changed for FSU this year, the principles are still the same. FSU will play an active, extended man to man, switching between 1-4 in a very effective pick and roll defense. Hamilton will also mix in some extended matchup zone, which severely handicaps their ability to rebound defensively and negates a lot of their inherent athleticism. The Noles aren’t an effective zone defense. Overall, I don’t think a lot has changed from last year. Xavier has the edge on the sideline and the style of play suits the Muskies just fine, as they tend to score at will when opponents want to play a transition heavy game. Additionally, FSU might be shorthanded with Terance Mann reportedly unlikely to play with a groin strain.


ATS: Xavier -5.5

O/U: Over 156

13 Marshall vs 5 West Virginia

Ah a West Virginia throwdown in the second round, and Bob Huggins and Dan D’Antoni haven’t exactly been buddies since the latter arrived at Marshall (ps don’t call this a rivalry in front of Huggy). Schematically, Jon Elmore is a one man press wrecker, and the Herd scored in the 96th percentile nationally in press offense. Marshall is not a team you press, but Huggins isn’t going to switch anything up of course. Defensively Marshall is decent defending ball screens, but that hardly matters against Huggins’ cut and fill motion offense, and the Herd have been extremely poor defensively against that type of action all year. Similarly to Wichita State, the Herd are at a massive disadvantage on the glass, but Marshall negated that against the Shockers by scoring at will in pick and roll. The Mountaineers however are a far, far superior half court pick and roll defense when compared to WSU, and they have the ability to guard Ajdin Penava effectively in Marshall spread pnr offense.

BRACKET: West Virginia

ATS: West Virginia -12.5

O/U: Over 159.5

NCAA Tournament: 54-23-3

ATS First Round: 25-6-1

O/U First Round: 21-10-1

ATS Second Round: 4-4

O/U Second Round: 4-3-1



2 Responses to “NCAA Tournament: Sunday Second Round Notes”

  1. delatopia March 18, 2018 at 11:25 am #

    The SYR-MSU total is actually 128, not 144.5. Don’t know whether that changes your actual “under” prediction. Thanks for the great analysis.

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