Tate's Take: 15 Things We Learned From The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament
Although the typical 5 versus 12 seed upsets were non-existent, two 4-seeds fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and for the first time ever, a 16 seed defeated a 1-seed ultimately busting everyone's bracket. Here's what we learned from round 1 of the tournament:
-Kansas' success relies on it's ability to convert on 3-point attempts far too often. The day KU shoots less than 40% from long distance, Rock Chalk will be sent home packing.
-Tennessee was the most prepared entering the NCAA Tournament and arguably the most confident entering the round of 32. Rocky Top picked up where it left off... as one of the few surprising and impressive teams in the country this season.
-Texas Tech looks like a totally different team with Keenan Evans healthy. The Red Raiders also give extra effort defensively with their leader in the rotation, holding SFA to only nine assists as a team. Texas Tech will go as far as Evans leads them.
-Kentucky's improvement from the charity stripe, especially in close games, cannot dare go unnoticed. However, can a poor shooting performance from 3 where UK shot 0 for 6. In the coming weeks, the Cats will need more than a combined 12 points from guards Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo.
-Buffalo is not afraid of Goliath. The Bulls not only expect to win their games, but they embrace the challenge of future NBA prospects. If Buffalo shoots better than 50 percent from the field it will be one Wildcat down, one Wildcat to go before moving on to Atlanta for the Sweet 16.
-Rhode Island's big heart makes up for its lack in size. It seemed as if the Rams were going to mail it in after blowing a lead in regulation as Trae Young was heating up, but the bench production was ultimately too much. Cyril Langevine and Fatts Russell give "Rhody" a different dimension that will be tough for Duke to prepare for in only two days.
-Loyola-Chicago has something personal with the state of Florida after defeating the Gators earlier this season and then most recently Miami. The Rattlers share the ball as good as any team in the field, but must improve on their atrocious 44 percent from the line.
-Gonzaga could be in big trouble if the frontcourt combo of Killian Tillie and Rui Hachimura gives another 2 for 12 from the field 0 for 3 from the perimeter, six points and nine rebound effort. The same goes for Silas Melson, who has Ohio State starving for a rematch. Jonathan WIlliams was the only bright spot of consistency on the roster.
-If Trevon Duval can come close to replicating Thursday afternoon's production, Duke will easily be the front-runners to cut down the nets in San Antonio. Despite struggling with his shot all season, Duval found the perfect time to put it all together.
-If there's an under-mentioned team that can upset a 1-seed in the Second Round, it's Seton Hall. The trio of Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington is the most dangerous for any team seeded sixth or higher.
-It isn't a stretch to see imagine UMBC in Atlanta for the South Region's Quarterfinals. After pulling off the biggest upset in college basketball history over number one overall seeded Virginia, only Kansas State stand in the way of the 16-seeded Retrievers advancing to the Sweet 16. K-State struggles to score during key stretches in games and rank among the top-10 worst rebounding teams nationally playing right into UMBC's favor. Not only is UMBC fearless but its proven ability to speed up the pace of games while limiting mistakes makes them among the field's most dangerous.
-Not much has changed within the Butler basketball program. Though the coaching staff has been shaken up quite a few times over the past couple seasons, the system and style of play remain the same. the Bulldogs will make you pay for writing them off. Butler doesn't beat themselves and force you to play their game. Ask Arkansas who got beat at their own game with double the amount of turnover margin and out-rebounded by 20.
-Michigan State has the tools but question marks still loom. Until the angry giant has been awaken with opposition trash-talking and physical play, MSU is vulnerable. Sparty struggled all season long with the inability to put together balanced halves of dominance. In late game situations MSU tends to let up off the gas though easily a title contender if somehow defense reigns supreme like past years in March.
-Marshall matches up better with West Virginia than Wichita State. The Thundering Herd's system is proven to succeed when assisting at a high rate on made baskets makes the game much easier to play through quality shot selection. Though occasionally defensively challenged and empowered with explosive offense, don't tell that to Marshall who tallied 12 steals. A contrast of styles should make for a very interesting 40 minutes in the battle of the state of West Virginia.
-We are going to learn a lot about Purdue very soon. The Boilermakers' Isaac Haas has been the anchor of this team all season long. Now going down with an injury, Purdue cannot push the panic button. Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards and Dakota Mathias has what it takes to lead an experienced group as they did in 25 minutes without Haas. Problem is, revenge is on the minds of giant-slayer and in-state rival Butler. 7'3 Matt Haarms isn't Haas but isn't a bad replacement.