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NCAA South Region Review

NCAA Sweet 16 South RegionBiggest Upset: (13) HawaiiWhenever a team wins their first ever NCAA tournament ga


NCAA Sweet 16 South Region

Biggest Upset: (13) Hawaii Whenever a team wins their first ever NCAA tournament game, they more than likely deserve the superlative of biggest upset. For a major upset to occur, there are usually many factors that go against the favoured team. However, what happened to California the week leading up to their 1st round game against Hawaii borders on cruelty. California dismissed assistant coach, Yann Hufnagel, amid sexual harassment allegations. The Golden Bear’s top scorer, Tyrone Wallace, broke his hand the Wednesday before the match, and Jabari Bird missed the game due to back spasms during warmups. With all of these distractions, California played like a team that knew they were destined to lose by fouling out and playing generally poor and sloppy basketball. However, to undersell the performance of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors would be a disservice. No, the Warriors did not shoot well from beyond the arc, shooting a season-worst 3 of 14. Yet, Hawaii found a way to deliver whenever they needed to make a play. Hawaii also led for most of the game, largely in part to their terrific free throw shooting, making 20 of 25 free throws. Congratulations goes out to Hawaii for their first ever NCAA tournament win, and for playing Maryland tough into the 2nd half. Best Team: (1) Kansas First, honourable mention goes to Villanova as they have taken care of Iowa and UNC Ashville with comfort. However, Kansas gets the award for best team by beating better quality opponents in Connecticut and Austin Peay with similar ease. Kansas blew out Austin Peay 105-79 in the first round, due largely to the combined performances of F Perry Ellis and G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who combined 44 points. Then in the second round, Kansas held Connecticut, a team many thought may pose a threat to them, to 33.9% shooting overall, out rebounded UCONN 44 to 24, and led in the game from the 17:16 mark in the first half until the end of the game. The overall consensus is that after the first weekend, Kansas is still the team to beat in the South Region, and the entire NCAA Tournament. Best Individual Performance: PG Angel Rodriguez, (3) Miami (FL) My standards for the best individual performance are not just about the player with the most points, or the best player from the best team. Instead, I view the best individual performance as the player that stood out the most for a team that needed a leader to carry them into the next round. Therefore, the best individual performance from the opening weekend in the South Region is without question senior Miami point-guard Angel Rodriguez for his performance against Wichita State in the 2nd round. Early in the contest, Miami looked to have a straightforward game as they took a 27-6 lead. However, Wichita State rallied in the 2nd half to take the lead, and Miami seemed to be crumbling. Then, after Miami’s coach Jim Larranaga received a technical, Rodriguez made a massive play, lobbing a half-court pass to Sheldon McClellan for an alley-oop, after which Miami led for the rest of the game. But, the game was still tight going down the stretch, and at 55-53, Rodriguez made an awkward and improbable shot off the backboard, and followed that up with a massive step-back three pointer on the next possession to give Miami a 60-53 lead. Rodriguez was instrumental to Miami’s initial run, scoring 11 points in the first 8 minutes, and he closed out the game for Miami, finishing with a career high 28 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Most Impressive Team: (11) Wichita St. Perhaps this accolade is a bit harsh on Wichita State. The consensus around the Shockers suggested that their 11 seed was too harsh, because they suffered major injuries early on in the season. Rather than play like an 11 seed, Wichita State proved they belong to be in the field with elite teams. So maybe The Shockers winning two games should not have been surprising, especially with a healthy backcourt of VanVleet and Baker, who were a part of the Wichita State 35-1 team from 2013-2014. But, what is truly impressive about Wichita State is the degree to which they stifled both Vanderbilt, another team considered as a better 11 seed team in the tournament, and 6th seed Arizona, who were top 20 in the nation with 81.2 points per game. Additionally, despite losing to Miami 27-6 early in the 2nd round, Wichita State rallied back to take an impressive lead in the 2nd half. For their tenacious defence, hustle, and skill, Wichita State is the most impressive team from the opening weekend of the South Bracket. Most Disappointing Team: (6) Arizona While many would probably give this award to California, I think that would be too harsh on the Golden Bears given the week they had. Instead, the most disappointing team from the South Region is Arizona. Given the quality and motivation of Wichita State, perhaps losing to them in the 1st round is not a great disappointment. However, what is disappointing is Arizona’s anaemic offense, and the overall thumping Wichita State gave Arizona. Arizona trailed the entire game since the 13:59 mark in the first half, only scored 19 first half points, committed 19 turnovers, and their benched was outscored 27-8. Overall, Arizona did not seem ready for Wichita State’s pressure, and generally seemed afraid of the challenge. Arizona’s performance was so unremarkable, that the biggest talking point during and after the game was about coach Sean Miller’s sweating through 2 different shirts. Best Game: (7) Iowa v. (10) Temple While there is a growing frustration with this year’s NCAA tournament because of a lack of romance and Cinderella teams this tournament, the 1st round game between Iowa and Temple certainly delivered excitement and memorable tournament moments. For those watching, Iowa seemed destined to lose. Going into the game, the general narrative around Iowa was that they were team without confidence. However, Iowa led for most of the game and seemed to overcome their mental issues…until they didn’t. Leading by 3 with 8.8 seconds left, and the 2nd of 2 free throws remaining, Iowa seemed like they had the game sealed. However, Peter Jok missed the 2nd free throw, and Temple’s Quenton DeCosey drove the length of the court for a 3 point shot from the left wing…and Iowa fouled him. DeCosey made all three free throws to force the game into overtime, and momentum was certainly with the Temple Owls. Then, with the game tied at 70-70 with 22.4 seconds left in overtime, Temple’s Dan Dingle was fouled going for a defensive rebound, earning a 1-and-1 at the free throw line. Certainly, Iowa would be done now. But, Dingle missed the front end of the 1-and-1, and Iowa got the last shot in overtime to win the game. Then… Best Moment: (7) Iowa Game Winning Tip-in …Comes the best moment from the best game in the South Region. As Iowa’s Mike Gesell dribbles down the right lane, he stops his dribble about 10 feet away, hesitates, pump fakes, and heaves an awkward shot toward the net. The ball misses everything, but lands in Iowa’s Adam Woodbury’s hands with 0.6 seconds left and he tips the missed shot in to give Iowa the dramatic win. This moment will not go down as one of the best moments in NCAA tournament history as neither team is particularly memorable, but this moment is nonetheless exciting and what fans hope to see from March Madness. Biggest Prediction Blunder: (4) California to Advance to the Sweet 16 First, in my defence, at the time of picking California, they did not yet dismiss assistant coach Hufnagel, Tyrone Wallace’s hand was not broken, and Jabari Brown did not suffer from back spasms. Second, I simply oversold California’s ability regardless of the numerous distractions and absences from the team. I believed their stringent defence would bode well for the tournament, and with a few quality players, they would find someone to carry them past Hawaii, and likely past Maryland. Third, I greatly undersold Hawaii, a team that earlier in the season almost beat Oklahoma. Hawaii consistently controlled the game, forcing California into sloppy play with 16 turnovers and 2 players fouling out. Most Likely to make the Final Four: (1) Kansas Jayhawks Sweet 16 South Region Power Rankings: 1) Kansas Jayhawks 2) Villanova Wildcats 3) Miami Hurricanes 4) Maryland Terrapins  


NCAA South Region Review

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