FRIDAY'S NCAA TOURNAMENT CAPSULES


EAST REGIONAL

No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 15 Morgan State

■ SITE: Buffalo, N.Y.

■ TIME: 9:15 a.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ THE SPREAD: WVU -17½

■ RECORDS: WVU 27-6, Morgan State 27-9

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: West Virginia outrebounds opponents by 6.6 per game.

■ THE BUZZ: Morgan State has a solid inside-outside duo in F Kevin Thompson (he averages a double-double) and G Reggie Holmes, but the Bears' main objective should be to keep it close. Neither team is that proficient offensively. WVU's aggressiveness and physical nature will carry the day, though it will be interesting to see what kind of game Thompson can put together.

No. 5 Temple vs. No. 12 Cornell

■ SITE: Jacksonville, Fla.

■ Time: 9:30 a.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Temple -3½

■ RECORDS: Temple 29-5, Cornell 27-4

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Cornell leads the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage at 43.4. But Temple opponents shoot just 28.1 percent from beyond the arc; that's the third-best 3-point defense in the nation.

■ THE BUZZ: Cornell has the components of a low seed trying to pull an upset. The Big Red are extremely good from 3-point range, they have four senior starters, they're making their third consecutive NCAA appearance and they're well-coached. They also got a terrible draw. Temple isn't overly athletic, but the Owls are a superb defensive team. They're physical and aggressive and make it difficult for opponents to run their half-court sets. Temple struggles to score consistently, but when you play defense like the Owls, it usually doesn't matter. This should be one of the best first-round games of the tournament. The key: How well will Cornell players shoot with Owls defenders jostling them and getting in their face?

No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Missouri

■ SITE: Buffalo, N.Y.

■ TIME: 11:45 a.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Clemson -1

■ RECORDS: Clemson 21-10, Missouri 22-10

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Missouri forces 19.7 turnovers per game; Clemson forces 17.5 turnovers per game.

■ THE BUZZ: Both teams like to press and force the tempo, meaning each gives up some easy baskets. But both sets of Tigers also force a ton of turnovers, which lead to easy transition baskets. Missouri has a big depth advantage and is much better from 3-point range. Clemson's biggest advantage would appear to be Trevor Booker, who is a load in the low post. It's doubtful Mizzou has anyone who can handle Booker one-on-one. Clemson hasn't won a first-round game since 1997; it has been one-and-done in each of its past three visits.

No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Wofford

■ SITE: Jacksonville, Fla.

■ TIME: Noon

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Wisconsin -10

■ RECORDS: Wisconsin 23-8, Wofford 26-8

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Both teams are solid defensively, and both hold their foes to 41.8 percent shooting from the floor.

■ THE BUZZ: Wofford is here because of its defense, not its offense. The Terriers' guards lack size, but they are quick and play good perimeter defense. If Wofford can hit some 3-pointers, this will be interesting. Wisconsin isn't overly athletic and, like Wofford, prefers a methodical pace. But the Badgers are much bigger than Wofford, which should be an advantage in a half-court game.

SOUTH REGIONAL

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 Siena

■ SITE: Spokane, Wash.

■ TIME: 11:30 a.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Tim Brando play-by-play, Mike Gminski analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Purdue -4

■ RECORDS: Purdue 27-5, Siena 27-6

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Purdue has played five games since star F Robbie Hummel was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Boilermakers averaged 43 points in two games during that span against NCAA Tournament teams.

■ THE BUZZ: It seems as if everyone is picking Siena. There's good reason for that. The Saints are an upperclass-dominated team that has won first-round games in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments, and Purdue without Hummel really struggles to score. With Hummel, the Boilermakers were a legit Final Four team. Siena is an OK defensive team, and the Saints have won 46 in a row when holding opponents to 70 or fewer points. It's going to be very hard for Purdue to reach the 70-point plateau. Siena has a big-time point guard in Ronald Moore, who will put pressure on the Boilermakers' perimeter defenders. Siena is not that good from 3-point range or from the free-throw line, but Moore's penetration abilities sets up teammates for a lot of open mid-range -- and closer -- shots. Purdue needs a big game from C JaJuan Johnson and G E'Twaun Moore; no other Boilermaker is that good offensively.

No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 12 Utah State

■ SITE: Spokane, Wash.

■ TIME: 2 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Tim Brando play-by-play, Mike Gminski analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Texas A&M -3

■ RECORDS: Texas A&M 23-9, Utah State 27-7

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Utah State shoots 41.9 percent from 3-point range, which rates second nationally. Remember that 42 percent from 3-point range is the equivalent of shooting 63 percent from 2-point range.

■ THE BUZZ: Utah State isn't overly athletic and lacks size and depth, but the Aggies can shoot and take extremely good care of the basketball. The other Aggies in this game, Texas A&M, are a physical group that plays good defense but isn't particularly proficient on offense. Plus, the Aggies have just one more turnover than assist. A&M's modus operandi on defense is to force the opponent deep into the shot clock. That tactic won't bother Utah State, which is methodical on offense. This is a good matchup for Utah State, which would've struggled with an athletic opponent, so there are upset possibilities in this one.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff

■ SITE: Jacksonville, Fla.

■ TIME: 4:25 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Duke -26

■ RECORDS: Duke 29-5, UAPB 18-15

STAT THAT MATTERS: Arkansas-Pine Bluff averages 16.7 turnovers per game.

THE BUZZ: Arkansas-Pine Bluff won the play-in game over Winthrop, and its reward is a game against the Blue Devils. UAPB plays solid defense, but it won't be able to stop the Blue Devils. The Lions don't have near enough firepower to hang around for more than a half. UAPB's coach is George Ivory, who was a starter for Mississippi Valley State when the Delta Devils gave Duke a tough game in the first round in 1986.

No. 8 California vs. No. 9 Louisville

■ SITE: Jacksonville, Fla.

■ TIME: 6:55 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Pick

■ RECORDS: California 23-10, Louisville 20-12.

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Cal shoots 37.3 percent from 3-point range, and Louisville shoots 33.9 percent.

■ THE BUZZ: Both teams would prefer an up-tempo game. Cal has better guards, but Louisville has the better frontcourt. There's a nice coaching matchup in this one, with Cal's Mike Montgomery going against Louisville's Rick Pitino. Louisville's 3-point defense is shaky, so look for Cal to fire away with Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. But Cal won't be able to handle Louisville big man Samardo Samuels. Plus, Cal starting forward Omondi Amoke was suspended indefinitely Wednesday by Montgomery for a violation of team rules

MIDWEST REGIONAL

No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech

■ SITE: Milwaukee

■ TIME: 4:15 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle play-by-play, Jim Spanarkel analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Oklahoma State -1½

■ RECORDS: Oklahoma State 22-10, Georgia Tech 22-12

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Georgia Tech commits 16.4 turnovers per game. That's the third-highest average for any team in the tournament, following only Florida State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

■ THE BUZZ: Oklahoma State relies heavily on its guards, and Tech relies heavily on its big men. Can either team make any defensive headway against its opponent's strong suit? Tech's size with Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal and Zachary Peacock has to worry Cowboys coach Travis Ford, but Tech coach Paul Hewitt – who has been unusually vocal this week about his critics – has to worry about Oklahoma State's guards lighting up his backcourt. This should be an entertaining and high-scoring game.

No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 12 New Mexico State

■ SITE: Spokane, Wash.

■ TIME: 4:20 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Tim Brando play-by-play, Mike Gminski analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Michigan State -13½

■ RECORDS: Michigan State 24-8, New Mexico State 22-11.

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: New Mexico State is outrebounded by 2.1 per game, and the Aggies also allow foes to shoot 45 percent from the field.

■ THE BUZZ: New Mexico State was the surprise winner of the WAC tournament. The Aggies have good size and are athletic, but they struggle in a half-court game and would much rather run. Michigan State can handle any kind of tempo, but if the Spartans are content to make this a half-court affair, New Mexico State is in trouble. That the Spartans pound foes on the boards has to be hugely worrisome to New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies. Aggies G Jahmar Young is a big-timer, and F Troy Gillenwater is an athletic presence off the bench on both ends of the court. Michigan State also needs to keep an eye on Aggies G Jonathan Gibson, who is a 3-point threat.

No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara

■ SITE: Milwaukee

■ TIME: 6:45 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle play-by-play, Jim Spanarkel analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Ohio State -17

■ RECORDS: Ohio State 27-7, UCSB 20-9

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Ohio State shoots 49.6 percent from the floor; UCSB allows foes to shoot just 41.7 percent.

■ THE BUZZ: UCSB wins with defense and 3-point shooting, but the Gauchos are a mediocre rebounding team -- which will cost them against the Buckeyes. UCSB's Orlando Johnson is a legitimate big-time guard, but UCSB will have no answer for Ohio State star swingman Evan Turner. One thing to watch if you're an Ohio State fan: UCSB has good depth and should substitute freely against the depth-shy Buckeyes. How much effort will Ohio State have to exert to get the win?

No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 13 Houston

■ SITE: Spokane, Wash.

■ TIME: 6:50 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Tim Brando play-by-play, Mike Gminski analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Maryland -9½

■ RECORDS: Maryland 23-8, Houston 19-15

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Houston lost 15 times and finished seventh in Conference USA before getting hot and winning the league tournament.

■ THE BUZZ: Houston's defense isn't good, which means a high-scoring Maryland team should get plenty of opportunities to put the ball in the basket. Houston can score because of a plethora of good guards, headed by Aubrey Coleman (the nation's leading scorer) and Kelvin Lewis (a 3-point marksman). The Cougars should be able to keep it close for a while. Ultimately, though, the Cougars' lack of attention to detail -- like playing defense and having its big guys get some rebounds -- is going to cost them. Houston gets outrebounded by 8.1 per game.

WEST REGIONAL

No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11 Minnesota

SITE: Milwaukee

TIME: 9:25 a.m.

ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle play-by-play, Jim Spanarkel analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Minnesota -1

■ RECORDS: Xavier 24-8, Minnesota 21-13

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Both play good defense; Xavier allows opponents to shoot just 41.1 percent from the field, and Minnesota is at 40.2 percent.

■ THE BUZZ: While both play aggressive, physical defense, Xavier is a much better offensive team. The Musketeers average 80 points and want to run. Minnesota is more deliberate offensively, and the Gophers' size could bother the Musketeers. The key guy in this one is Xavier G Jordan Crawford, who has 3-point ability and also the quickness and strength to get to the rim. Look for Xavier to pressure Minnesota PG Devoe Joseph. The Golden Gophers are much more proficient offensively when Joseph is scoring.

No. 3 Pittsburgh vs. No. 14 Oakland

■ SITE: Milwaukee

■ TIME: 11:55 a.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle play-by-play, Jim Spanarkel analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Pitt -10½

■ RECORDS: Pitt 24-8, Oakland 26-8

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Oakland allows opponents to hit 45 percent of their shots from the field.

■ THE BUZZ: Oakland played one of the toughest nonconference schedules, but the Grizzlies haven't beaten anyone of note. C Keith Benson is seen as a future NBA player, and PG Johnathon Jones is No. 2 in the nation in assists. Pitt needs to make sure to pound on Benson, which is where junior C Gary McGhee comes in. McGhee isn't much of an offensive threat, but he's a solid defender who plays a physical brand of basketball. Conversely, Oakland will focus its defensive efforts on Pitt G Ashton Gibbs. When Gibbs is kept under control, Pitt struggles to score.

No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida State

■ SITE: Buffalo, N.Y.

■ TIME: 4:10 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Florida State -1½

■ RECORDS: Gonzaga 26-6, Florida State 22-9

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Gonzaga shoots 49.4 percent from the field; FSU leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 37.4.

■ THE BUZZ: Gonzaga wants to push the pace, but FSU won't let that happen -- if it wants to win. FSU is shaky offensively, mainly because it doesn't have a go-to guy. However, the Seminoles clamp down on defense, thanks in part to a lot of big guys up front. Both teams rebound well, and that bears watching. If the Zags can get out in transition, they'll be in good shape. FSU needs to keep Gonzaga G Matt Bouldin under wraps.

No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 16 Vermont

■ SITE: Buffalo, N.Y.

■ TIME: 6:40 p.m.

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ THE SPREAD: Syracuse -17

■ RECORDS: Syracuse 28-4, Vermont 25-9

■ STAT THAT MATTERS: Syracuse averages 81.4 points per game.

■ THE BUZZ: The last time these teams met in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, Vermont shocked the Orange in the first round as a No. 13 seed. The big storyline this time is the health of Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku. Syracuse is going to win this regardless of Onuaku's health, but can the Orange make an Elite Eight run with a hobbled big man? Vermont starting G Maurice Joseph, who began his career at Michigan State, is the brother of Syracuse reserve F Kris Joseph. Vermont reserve G Simeon Marsalis is the son of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

 

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