Today's NCAA Tournament Capsules


EAST REGION

NO. 5 WEST VIRGINIA VS. NO. 12 CLEMSON

■ WHERE: Tampa, Fla.

■ WHEN: 9:15 a.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

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

■ RECORDS: West Virginia 20-11, Clemson 22-11

■ LINE: West Virginia -2

■ BUZZ: Clemson looked good in dismantling Alabama-Birmingham in a play-in game Tuesday, and the Tigers now hit the court again about 36 hours later. Clemson's defensive pressure bothered UAB; can it do the same to the Mountaineers? Clemson's big men played well against the Blazers, but West Virginia's physical frontcourt is another matter. This should be a grind-it-out affair, and look for Clemson to pull the upset. Guard Andre Young, the Tigers' only true 3-point threat, needs to make a few from beyond the arc.

NO. 4 KENTUCKY VS. NO. 13 PRINCETON

■ WHERE: Tampa, Fla.

■ WHEN: 11:45 a.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

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

■ RECORDS: Kentucky 25-8, Princeton 25-6

■ LINE: Kentucky -13½

■ BUZZ: Princeton's motion offense can be tough to deal with on a short practice schedule. The Tigers have to get open looks on the perimeter if they are to keep this close. If that happens -- if guards Douglas Davis and Dan Mavraides and forward Mack Darrow can hit shots from beyond the arc -- it opens things up inside for forward Kareem Maddox, the Tigers' leading scorer. Princeton is going to have all sorts of trouble with Kentucky's athleticism, and Wildcats freshman forward Terrence Jones could have a huge day inside. Princeton coach Sydney Johnson was a starting guard on the Tigers' team that upset fourth-seeded UCLA in the 1996 tournament.

SOUTHEAST REGION

NO. 8 BUTLER VS. NO. 9 OLD DOMINION

■ WHERE: Washington, D.C.

■ WHEN: 9:40 a.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

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

■ RECORDS: Butler 23-9, Old Dominion 27-6

■ LINE: Old Dominion -2

■ BUZZ: Last season's midmajor darling meets a team that meets the criteria this season -- assuming it had gotten a seed more in line with what it had accomplished. Old Dominion is underseeded at No. 9, but it has a tough first-round matchup in the defense-minded Bulldogs. Old Dominion is an extremely physical group that scores just more than 40 percent of its points off offensive rebounds. Forward Frank Hassell is a lefty who has a variety of low-post moves, and he's the biggest of a bunch of big-bodied guys. Old Dominion struggles from the perimeter, though, which means the Monarchs have to do a good job on the boards. Old Dominion outrebounds foes by an average of 12.2 per game. Butler has offensive difficulties, too, but the Bulldogs are a lot better from beyond the arc than Old Dominion. The Bulldogs need productive games from big men Matt Howard and Andrew Smith, and they also need guard Shelvin Mack to recapture his tournament form from last season. Butler does a great job of limiting offensive boards (opponents average just 9.0 per game; Old Dominion averages 15.5), and that has to be the case in this one.

NO. 1 PITTSBURGH VS. NO. 16 UNC-ASHEVILLE

■ WHERE: Washington, D.C.

■ WHEN: 12:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

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

■ RECORDS: Pittsburgh 27-5, UNC-Asheville 20-13

■ LINE: Pittsburgh -18

■ BUZZ: North Carolina-Asheville's trip to the NCAAs can be termed a successful one because the Bulldogs won one of Tuesday night's play-in games. UNC-Asheville had a successful game offensively against Arkansas-Little Rock; the going will be quite a bit tougher against Pittsburgh. The Bulldogs play good defense, but they won't be able to handle Pitt unless the Panthers get extremely sloppy with the ball and shoot extremely poorly.

NO. 2 FLORIDA VS. NO. 15 UC SANTA BARBARA

■ WHERE: Tampa, Fla.

■ WHEN: 3:50 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

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

■ RECORDS: Florida 26-7, UC Santa Barbara 18-13

■ LINE: Florida -12½

■ BUZZ: UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson is a good all-around player and a high-level athlete, and his size (6 feet 5 inches) is going to cause trouble for Florida's smallish backcourt. In addition, UCSB's second-best player is swingman James Nunnally, who is 6-7, and he, too, should have offensive success. But the Gators' frontcourt should feast on the Gauchos' big men. UCSB was the surprise winner of the Big West tournament, as the Gauchos were the No. 5 seed.

NO. 3 BRIGHAM YOUNG VS. NO. 14 WOFFORD

■ WHERE: Denver

■ WHEN: 4:15 p.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst

■ RECORDS: Brigham Young 30-4, Wofford 21-12

■ LINE: Brigham Young -8

■ BUZZ: Wofford starts four seniors and a junior, and the Terriers had a legitimate shot to beat Wisconsin in the first round last season before fading late. They have to get a big game from forward Noah Dahlman if they are to pull the upset, and that could happen because Brigham Young is not overwhelming up front, especially without suspended forward Brandon Davies. The Terriers are excellent from beyond the arc (40.7 percent), but Dahlman remains the key. He has to give them a semblance of an inside game. Wofford plays good defense, but BYU guard Jimmer Fredette still should score 30. Will anyone step up to help Fredette? While BYU lacks athleticism, so does Wofford.

NO. 4 WISCONSIN VS. NO. 13 BELMONT

■ WHERE: Tucson, Ariz.

■ WHEN: 4:25 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan play-by-play, Dan Bonner and Reggie Miller analysts

■ RECORDS: Wisconsin 23-8, Belmont 30-4

■ LINE: Wisconsin -4½

■ BUZZ: This is a dangerous game for Wisconsin, which looked awful in its past two outings (a decisive loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale, then an excruciatingly bad offensive performance -- just 33 points -- in a Big Ten tournament loss to Penn State). Belmont is well-coached and extremely deep -- 11 players average at least 10.4 minutes and no one plays more than 24.6 -- and can hit the 3-pointer (38.1 percent). Unlike a lot of low-major league champs, Belmont has an effective duo at center in Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders (a combined 20.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game). If the Bruins' big guys can produce offensively, Belmont's ability to hit from 3-point range will be magnified. Slowing Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor is going to be the No. 1 defensive task for the Bruins. Taylor and Badgers forward Jon Leuer could have big offensive games.

NO. 7 UCLA VS. NO. 10 MICHIGAN STATE

■ WHERE: Tampa, Fla.

■ WHEN: 6:20 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

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

■ RECORDS: UCLA 22-10, Michigan State 19-14

■ LINE: Michigan State -2

■ BUZZ: This isn't likely to be an offensive game to remember. Both offenses are spotty, and both teams generally produce good defensive efforts. Michigan State has been a huge disappointment this season, but all that angst can be erased with a nice tournament run. The Spartans sure wouldn't mind if guard Durrell Summers, who has been Mr. Inconsistent this season, regains his form from last season's tournament, when he might have been the key guy in a Final Four run. The Bruins need forward Tyler Honeycutt to produce; if he doesn't, they likely don't have enough offense to win this game.

NO. 6 ST. JOHN'S VS. NO. 11 GONZAGA

■ WHERE: Denver

■ WHEN: 6:45 p.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst

■ RECORDS: St. John's 21-11, Gonzaga 24-9

■ LINE: St. John's -2

■ BUZZ: St. John's is extremely athletic, but the key to this one is if the Red Storm adequately can replace swingman D.J. Kennedy, who blew out his knee in the Big East tournament. He was the Red Storm's third-leading scorer and top rebounder. Gonzaga comes in having played its best basketball down the stretch, but was that an offshoot of playing in the relatively mediocre West Coast Conference, or have the Bulldogs legitimately turned things around? It's hard to see Gonzaga being able to contain St. John's guard Dwight Hardy. But Gonzaga center Robert Sacre is going to be a handful for the Red Storm, who aren't a good rebounding team. Gonzaga would prefer a fast pace; St. John's can run, but the Red Storm wouldn't mind controlling tempo in this one.

NO. 5 KANSAS STATE VS. NO. 12 UTAH STATE

■ WHERE: Tucson, Ariz.

■ WHEN: 6:55 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan play-by-play, Dan Bonner and Reggie Miller analysts

■ RECORDS: Kansas State 22-10, Utah State 30-3

■ LINE: Kansas State -2

■ BUZZ: Utah State thought it was seeded two or three spots too low, so the Aggies come in with a chip on their shoulders. But the Wildcats always play with a chip on their shoulders. This is going to be extremely physical in the paint. Neither team is averse to bumping and grinding -- and throwing a few elbows. Utah State is known as a good 3-point shooting team, but K-State is a bit better this season. Plus, K-State's perimeter defense is better than Utah State's. Watch for Utah State guard Brian Green, who shoots 47.2 percent from 3-point range; he will come off a variety of screens, and keeping a hand in his face is going to be important for K-State. Controlling guard Jacob Pullen is the key to beating K-State. Utah State plays excellent defense, but can the Aggies slow Pullen? The Aggies start four seniors and a junior, so this is an experienced bunch. Will that experience translate into an upset win?

SOUTHWEST REGION

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Morehead State

■ WHERE: Denver

■ WHEN: 10:40 a.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst

■ RECORDS: Louisville 25-9, Morehead State 24-9

■ LINE: Louisville -10

■ BUZZ: Morehead State's chances for an upset rest on guard Demonte Harper, a good shooter from 3-point range (39.9 percent). Morehead State's best player is forward Kenneth Faried, the nation's leading rebounder, and he gives the Eagles the advantage in the frontcourt. But Harper's athleticism and 3-point ability need to come to the fore if the Eagles are going to win -- or stay close. Louisville is perimeter-based on offense, and the Cardinals' defensive pressure is going to cause problems for Morehead State. One thing that has to worry Louisville coach Rick Pitino, though, is that his team can be lax on the boards, and Faried is a rebounding machine.

NO. 5 VANDERBILT VS. NO. 12 RICHMOND

■ WHERE: Denver

■ WHEN: 1:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Bill Raftery analyst

■ RECORDS: Vanderbilt 23-10, Richmond 27-7

■ LINE: Vanderbilt -2

■ BUZZ: Vanderbilt has lost in the first round the past two seasons as a No. 4 seed, and this isn't an easy matchup for the Commodores. Richmond has an excellent backcourt-frontcourt duo in guard Kevin Anderson and forward D.J. Harper, who was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Both are proficient from beyond the arc, and Harper also is Richmond's leading rebounder. But Richmond is not a good rebounding team, and Vandy needs to make the Spiders pay in that category. Vandy guard John Jenkins might be the nation's best pure shooter, and the Commodores are at their best when Jenkins is getting open looks on the perimeter; when he is shut down, Vandy's offense often bogs down. Vandy center Festus Ezeli should have a big game. These are experienced, cerebral teams: Richmond starts four seniors and a sophomore, while Vandy starts four juniors and a sophomore.

WEST REGION

NO. 7 TEMPLE VS. NO. 10 PENN STATE

■ WHERE: Tucson, Ariz.

■ WHEN: 11:10 a.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan play-by-play, Dan Bonner and Reggie Miller analysts

■ RECORDS: Temple 25-7, Penn State 19-14

■ LINE: Temple -2½

■ BUZZ: Both are defense-oriented squads, so this could get ugly -- though nothing could be as ugly as Penn State's cringe-inducing 36-33 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament. Penn State must get a big game from guard Talor Battle, one of four senior starters for the Nittany Lions, if it is to win. Temple, which hasn't won a tournament game since 2001, could have success from beyond the arc. Penn State's perimeter defense can be spotty -- foes have hit 36.7 percent of their 3-pointers -- and the Owls' Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt could take advantage. Temple could be bolstered by the return of swingman Scootie Randall, who hasn't played since Feb. 17 because of a foot injury; he says he'll be ready to go, and he would add another 3-point threat.

NO. 2 SAN DIEGO STATE VS. NO. 15 NORTHERN COLORADO

■ WHERE: Tucson, Ariz.

■ WHEN: 1:50 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan play-by-play, Dan Bonner and Reggie Miller analysts

■ RECORDS: San Diego State 32-2, Northern Colorado 21-10

■ LINE: San Diego State -15½

■ BUZZ: San Diego State is 0-6 in NCAA play but should get its first tourney win in this one. The Aztecs' frontcourt should have its way with Northern Colorado's. Northern Colorado guard Devon Beitzel is a solid offensive player; he has scored at least 22 points in nine consecutive games and hits 38.4 percent from the line. Beitzel has to be hot for Northern Colorado to keep this close.

NO. 3 CONNECTICUT VS. NO. 14 BUCKNELL

■ WHERE: Washington, D.C.

■ WHEN: 4:20 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

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

■ RECORDS: Connecticut 26-9, Bucknell 25-8

■ LINE: Connecticut -10½

■ BUZZ: While Bucknell has a deep group of guards, center Mike Muscala (14.9 points per game, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks) is the guy who must come up big if the Bison are to pull the upset. Guard Bryson Johnson is a big-time 3-point threat and needs to be hot. The Bison, who hit a superb 40.2 percent from 3-point range, also need production off the bench from guard G.W. Boon. Bucknell is excellent from the line, hitting 78.6 percent (third-best in the nation). Expect the Bison to send a few guys at Connecticut star Kemba Walker. Bucknell's Bryan Cohen is an excellent defender, and his size (6 feet 5 inches) could bother Walker. But Cohen isn't that quick, which means Bucknell point guard Daryl Shazier will spend a lot of time worrying about Walker. UConn's big guys are a lot more athletic and a lot more physical than their counterparts, so this is a rare game in which the Huskies should feel comfortable getting the ball inside. Bucknell's foes have hit just 39.2 percent from the field this season.

NO. 6 CINCINNATI VS. NO. 11 MISSOURI

■ WHERE: Washington, D.C.

■ WHEN: 6:50 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

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

■ LINE: Pick 'em

■ RECORDS: Cincinnati 25-8, Missouri 23-10

■ BUZZ: Neither team is all that pretty on offense, so be prepared to see periods of ugly basketball. Cincinnati plays aggressive, physical defense, while Missouri's defense hasn't been up to coach Mike Anderson's usual standards. Still, the Tigers force 18.3 turnovers per game (Cincy turns it over just 11.6 times per game). Mizzou comes in on a four-game losing streak and needs a big game from guard Marcus Denmon. Cincy lacks a go-to scorer, and if Mizzou can summon consistent defensive intensity, it can pull the modest upset. But can the Tigers come up with that effort? The Tigers would prefer the game be at least in the mid-70s, while Cincy would be comfortable in the mid- to high-60s.

MIKE HUGUENIN/RIVALS.COM

 

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