Thursday’s SportsBIT Show: The Dancing Begins
Teddy & Pauly won’t be bothering with any of those No. 1 vs. No. 16 games in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64. The top seeds have never lost one of those matchups and have won them by nearly 29 points on average the past two years. The focus of Thursday’s SportsBIT show is some evenly-matched first-round matchups. Get your brackets ready!
Michigan State vs. Miami
The ninth-seeded Spartans from the Big Ten and eighth-seeded Hurricanes from the ACC face off in the Midwest Region in Tulsa on Friday. No coach is better in the NCAA Tournament than Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, a Hall of Famer. Izzo tends to do more with less in the Big Dance than any coach in history. He had one of the tournament favorites in 2016, but his second-seeded Spartans were upset by No. 15 Middle Tennessee – arguably the biggest upset in tournament history. Izzo’s club this year has a great freshman in Miles Bridges but is nowhere near as talented as many of his recent teams. Izzo likely will be starting three freshmen Friday and young players lead to turnovers. Those have been a problem all season for Sparty. The Hurricanes had excellent home wins over Duke and North Carolina this season but largely struggled away from Coral Gables. UM isn’t great offensively but is strong on defense and has just one loss this year when scoring at least 70 points.
Cincinnati vs. Kansas State
The No. 6 Bearcats from the American Athletic Conference take on the No. 11 Wildcats from the Big 12 in the South Region on Friday. K-State played in the First Four on Tuesday night in Dayton and beat fellow No. 11 Wake Forest 95-88. Normally, teams that play in the First Four on Tuesday then play again Thursday, so K-State catches a break with an extra day of rest and preparation. The Wildcats were dominant in the paint against Wake but will face a Cincinnati team that allows just 60.8 points per game. The Bearcats have always been one of the country’s top defensive teams, but they are showing more offense this season. Coach Mick Cronin spent time last offseason with Notre Dame’s Mike Brey to learn the Irish’s ball-sharing offensive schemes. Cincinnati is turning the ball over with much less frequency in past years. K-State ranked Top 20 during the season in forcing turnovers.
Marquette vs. South Carolina
The seventh-seeded Gamecocks of the SEC have one major advantage going into this East Region game against the No. 10 Golden Eagles from the Big East: the game is in Greenville, S.C., about 100 miles from USC’s campus. It’s South Carolina’s first NCAA trip since 2004 and it should be a heavy crowd advantage in their favor. This is a battle of opposites. Marquette is one of the nation’s best offensive teams and led the country in three-point shooting percentage. USC has a star in senior guard Sindarius Thornwell but was one of the worst-shooting teams nationally. The Gamecocks win with their excellent defense, among the best at forcing turnovers and defending the three-point line. Teddy & Paul believe USC will control the tempo and their “Play of the Day” is on the under in this one.