NCAA Tournament Breakdown and Predictions: Regional Finals

BY: Josh Kay – Staff Wtiter and Matt Stone – Contributing Writer

So as you make your last minute changes to your brackets, here is what we think the regional finals will look like! One things is always for certain… it will be Madness

South Regional Final:

Matt: 1. Kansas vs. 3. Florida

Kanas could run into some trouble against the North Carolina Tar Heels, but the Jayhawks simply have too much experience and talent not to reach an Elite Eight this season. On the other side Florida is just as likely to get upset by UCLA or Minnesota, as they are likely to reach the South Regional final. Alas, what about Georgetown?! 3-point shooting is always key in the tourney and the Hoyas do not put up enough points. Erik Murphy becomes a star in this tournament as the Gators find themselves with a chance to reach the Final Four. Ultimately Jeff Withey is too much for Florida to handle and the Jayhawks have a date in Atlanta.

Winner: Kansas

Josh: 2. Georgetown vs. 4. Michigan

Everything has to go right for both these teams to meet on a collision course for Atlanta. However I believe that Otto Porter is a special player and he can carry his team far. The Hoyas Play phenomenal defense and they force their opponents to turn the ball over. If they can get Patric Young and company off their game I like Georgetown’s chances to move on. On Michigan’s path they will have to go through tough opponents. However I love the backcourt of Burke and Hardaway Jr. The only issue I have is will the Wolverines role players step up. If that happens I like Michigan to run all the way to Atlanta! Winner: Michigan

East Region Final:

Matt: 2. Miami vs. 5. UNLV

Watch out for Vegas. UNLV can beat anybody in the country on a given night. Anthony Marshall (10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.8 apg) sets up the rest of the Rebels supporting cast and I am taking them to knock off Indiana. On the other side Miami may not have to deal with Marquette if Davidson can beat them like I predicted. ‘Canes and UNLV for a spot in the Final Four. The Magic will stop their for Vegas; Miami is deep and talented, I see them heading to the Final Four. Winner: Miami

Josh: 1. Indiana vs. 2. Miami

Indiana may struggle their way to the regional final because Syracuse, Temple, and NC State can give them trouble. However I think the combination of Watford, Zeller and Oladipo will pull it out. Miami on the other hand has an easy  run to the elite 8. The hurricanes have two things that will help them: Head Coach Jim Laranaga has had final four experience so he knows how to gwt the job done and they have senior leadership that will take them far. There is not many people ho can stop Shane Larkin and I do not except the Hoosiers to be any different. The magic continues on South Beach as Miami reaches the Final 4! Winner: Miami

West Region Final:

Matt: 4. Kansas State vs. 2. Ohio State

I like Pittsburgh to knock off Gonzaga in the round of 32, as well as New Mexico to fall against Arizona. Kansas State is potent on offense and that will bring them to the Elite Eight. Ohio State simply is too good on both sides of the ball for Iowa State to knock them out. In the Elite Eight final Ohio State and Kansas State will be a classic. Rodney McGruder and Aaron Craft will go at it. Deshaun Thomas (19PPG) will bring the Buckeyes to Atlanta. Winner: Ohio State

 Josh: 5. Wisconsin vs. 2. Ohio State

Call me crazy but the Big Ten is really good. There is something about the way Wisconsin plays around tournament time. They force you to play a physical slow tempo game. They can score the basketball at will and I like their chances against Gonzaga. On the other side of the bracket Ohio State will have to get by Tony Snell and New Mexico but If they can do that, it sets up a rematch of the Big Ten Championship game. I like the Buckeyes chances to get to Atlanta. Winner: Ohio State

Midwest Final:

 Matt: 4. Saint Louis vs 2. Duke

Here’s what I love about Saint Louis: They are old; their top six players are all juniors and seniors. Also, They had success in the NCAA Tourney last year. They only lost one major player (Brian Conklin) from a team that won one game and nearly a second (near upset of Michigan State). The Billikens will pull the upset over Louisville. On the other side this is a complete Duke team. I like the Blue Devils beating Memphis to reach the Elite Eight. In the Duke/Saint Louis matchup Duke will be able to adjust to Saint Louis’s grinding pace. Seth Curry will have a big night and the Duke’s head to the Final Four. Winner: Duke

Josh: 1. Louisville vs. 2. Duke

Call it chalk but I like the way both of these teams are playing. What Louisville was able to do to Syracuse in the Big East Championship game was so impressive. There transition game is sparked by the way their guards play defense. They will have a challenge from Saint Louis but they are just too experienced to let a trip to the Final 4 pass them by. On the other side I like Duke’s chances to get to the elite 8. With a healthy Ryan Kelly the Blue Devils want to quite all the critics about losing in the first round last year. However this is Louisville’s year. Cardinals get it done in a thriller. Winner: Louisville

– JK & MS

NCAA Tournament Breakdown and Predictions: Midwest Region

BY: Josh Kay – Staff Writer and Matthew Stone – Contributing Writer

Midwest Region

1. Louisville vs. 16. North Carolina A&T:

Matt: What comes after Liberty? Death. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals full court press will eat A&T alive. Peyton Siva and the Cardinals have a National Championship in mind. Winner: Louisville

 Josh: Louisville was one win away last year from reaching the National Championship game. This year they are out to complete the goal they fell short of last season. The only major pieces they lost last year were Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith. No problem they just replaced them with a healthy Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock. The cardinals have great defenders and great scorers. Clearly they are the favorite for a reason. Winner: Louisville

8. Colorado State vs. 9. Missouri:

Matt: Both teams average at least 40 rebounds per game. CSU center Colton Iverson averages close to a double-double nightly. Missouri can put up points. The Tigers feature six players that score in double figures including Laurence Bowers and Phil Pressey. Winner: Missouri

 Josh: Colorado States lack of strength of schedule hurts them here. Yes they do rebound the ball very well and score 73 points consistently, but this tigers team is a lot quicker. In 6 of Missouri’s 10 losses they lost by three points or less. Could they have an issue closing out a game? Winner: Missouri

5. Oklahoma State vs. 12. Oregon:

Matt: Oregon is under-seeded and dangerous.Dominic Artis (8.5 points, 3.4 assists) is healthy again and the Ducks are fresh off of a Pac-12 Tournament Championship. However, Oklahoma State is tough. The Cowboys dual guard   combination of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown could be too much for Oregon. Winner: Oklahoma State

 Josh: Awful draw for Oklahoma St. here. I’m also still scratching my head as to how the committee gives the winner of the PAC-12 a 12 seed. None the less I love the play of Artis and how the ducks spread the court. They will have a tough challenge with Smart and Brown but the X factor of the game is the play of E.J. Singler. Ducks pull the upset here. Winner: Oregon

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NCAA Tournament Breakdown and Predictions: West Region

BY: Josh Kay – Staff Writer and Matthew Stone – Contributing Writer

West Region

1. Gonzaga vs. 16. Southern University:

Matt: Gonzaga crushed all 18 WCC opponents by an average of 19.1 ppg. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris are the biggest reasons why Gonzaga shoots 50 percent from the field. Gonzaga will roll Southern, but that doesn’t mean they will dance deep into March. Winner: Gonzaga

Josh: Kelly Olynyk (17.5 PPG) and Elias Harris (14.9 PPG) are mismatch nightmares for most opponents including Southern. The Zags also have to very dynamic guards in Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. Look for the Bulldogs to get out an run through their second round matchup. Winner: Gonzaga

 8. Pittsburgh vs. Wichita State:

Matt: Pittsburgh has  size with Talib Zanna and Steven Adams inside and experience with senior point guard Tray Woodall (5.2 assists/2.1 turnovers per game). Wichita State has lost three of their last five. Winner: Pittsburgh

 Josh: The first one to 50 points wins, ready… go! What both of these teams lack in offense they sure do make it up on the defensive end. For all the height that Pitt has (Talib Zanna and Steven Adams) they do not rebound the ball well. (35.3 RPG = 138th nationally) That’s a spot where the Shockers may be able to take advantage of. On the flip side. Wichita state does not shoot the ball well from the field. (44.3%) That’s where the panthers can swing momentum back on their side because they are very efficient from the field. (47.5%) In a coin toss I will give it to the Panthers. Winner: Pittsburgh

5. Wisconsin vs. 12. Mississippi:

Matt: The Badgers are only a 5-seed after postseason wins over Michigan and Indiana. Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss) hasn’t seen a defense this good all season. Wisconsin wins going away. Winner: Wisconsin

 Josh: One thing I have learned of the last few years of doing research around tournament time, is that Wisconsin always goes to the sweet 16. This year is no different. The late season emergence of Ryan Evens (10.2 PPG) has really sparked a run for the Badgers. They like to slow the tempo down and force you to take bad shots. They bang inside and are not afraid to get physical. Should be a fun one with Marshall Henderson on the court. Winner: Wisconsin

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NCAA Tournament Breakdown and Predictions: East Region

East Region

1. Indiana vs. 16. LIU Brooklyn/James Madison:

Matt: The Hoosiers will not become the first No.1 seed to lose to a 16-seed regardless of their opponent. The Hoosiers are the most “ Tourney-Ready” team and I expect nothing less than a monster performance in the second round. The Hoosiers will have a size advantage with Cody Zeller (16.9PPG, 8.2RPG) and Christian Watford down low. Victor Oladipo is already a star, and the perimeter shooting (Indiana is second in the country from 3-point range) of the Hoosiers will have them dancing late into March. Winner: Indiana

Josh: A good argument could be made that 6 teams from the Big Ten could make it to the elite 8. Indiana, one of those teams also has a good chance to get to a final 4. Led by Wooden Award candidates Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, the Hoosiers will power their way to the round of 32. Winner: Indiana

8. North Carolina State vs. 9. Temple:

Matt: If you don’t know who Khalif Wyatt (Temple) is by now, you are about to find out. The Owls have won seven of its last eight games, and not to mention, their last win of the regular season was over Final Four sleeper VCU. NC State can beat anybody with the inside-outside duo of C.J Leslie and Scott Wood, but Temple will be more efficient. Winner: Temple

 Josh:So far of the nine games Matt and I have picked, we have had the same winners. (He is copying me!) That trend doesn’t change here. The owls, a team that is always dangerous, has arguably the best pure scorer in the tournament. Khalif Wyatt (19.8 PPG) can score off the dribble, off a pick and role and his stroke from down town is scary good. However, Temple is not just a one man team either. Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson compliment Wyatt very nicely. Don’t count out C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood of NC State though. This could be a buzzer beater type game. Winner: Temple

5. UNLV vs. 12. California:

Matt: UNLV is Scary good. Anthony Bennett (16.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG) is a Top-5 NBA Draft pick and the Rebels are getting hot. Rarely in the first round do two-teams that met already play each other, but this is the case. UNLV beat California 76-75 without Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch (2.6BPG). Cal will need Allen Crabbe if they want to pull off the 12-5 upset. Winner: UNLV

Josh: Having two teams play each other again after they have played already this year usually favors the losing team the second time around. However Cal was only 4-6 against tournament teams this year. They don’t shoot particularly well from the field and the with the rebels ability to rebound and distribute the ball, I don’t see  the bears getting the revenge they want. Anthony Bennett is also really good. Enough said. Winner: UNLV

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NCAA Tournament Breakdown and Predictions: South Region

BY: Josh Kay – Staff Writer and Matthew Stone – Contributing Writer

Over the course of the next few hours our Contributing writer Matthew Stone and I will attempt to preview all 32 second rounds games. This is the time of year were a team that is hot usually makes a deep run in the tournament. Do either of us think that will happen? Or will for only the second time in tournament history, will all number one seeds make it to the final 4? The start of the tournament is less then 24 hours away, but believe me, the madness has already started!

South Region

1. Kansas vs. 16. Western Kentucky: 

Matt: The Jayhawks come into the tourney looking to avenge last season’s title game defeat against the Kentucky Wildcats. Western Kentucky has not played the Jayhawks since the 1997-98 season, where they lost 75-62. The Hilltoppers are led by George Fant, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Sun Belt championship. However, I expect a dominant outing from Kansas and Senior Jeff Withey (13.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG). Winner: Kansas

Josh: Western Kentucky is certainly no stranger to its number 16-seed role. In last years tournament they were a “first four” team that eventually played the overall number one seed Kentucky Wildcats. They ended up only losing by 16 and they do return guard T.J. Price and forward George Fant. Still Kansas is the more athletic team and should have minimal issues advancing to the round of 32. Winner: Kansas

8. North Carolina vs. 9. Villanova:

Matt: Wow. Two historic programs collide in what should be the best No. 8 vs No. 9 matchup of the tournament. North Carolina has been rolling ever since head Coach Roy Williams inserted P.J Hairston into the starting lineup, while Villanova boasts victories over Georgetown, Marquette, Syracuse, and No.1 overall seed Louisville. Jayvaughn Pinkston is a force in the paint, but the perimeter game of the Tar Heels will be too much for Villanova. Reggie Bullock (14.2 PPG) will be the X-Factor. Winner: North Carolina

Josh: The eighth and final Big East team in the field, the wildcats will have their hands full with Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tarheels. Playing in the Big East gives Villanova the edge in games versus tougher opponents with wins over Syracuse, Georgetown and Louisville, but form a pure talent perspective, the boys from Raleigh have a slight edge. Mouphtaou Yarou ( 9.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG) has to be effective down low for the wildcats if they have any change at pulling the upset. Ultimately James Michael MacAdoo and company will prevail setting the stage for a Roy Williams vs. Kansas reunion. Boy will that be fun. Winner: North Carolina

5. Virginia Commonwealth vs. 12. Akron:

Matt: A tough break here for Akron. Shaka Smart’s “ Havoc” defense could have its way in this matchup with Akron point guard, Alex Abreu, out with an injury. With both of these teams playing similar styles, points will not be at a premium. VCU could get caught looking at a possible matchup with Michigan and Trey Burke next round, but I expect VCU to be up to the task. Winner: Virginia Commonwealth

Josh: This would have been one of the most interesting games to pick had the Zips not lost their point guard Alex Abreu. However Akron still has Zeke Marshell and Demetrius Treadwell, the teams top two scorers are rebounders. Still VCU and Shaka Smart are out to prove that they are not a Cinderella team, but a national champion contender. Juvonte Reddic is trying to bring back some of that magic from his freshman year final four run. Winner: VCU

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Weekly NHL Update: Feb. 18

By: Michael Condon


NHL Roundup: Notable matchups from around the league

(6-7-1) Colorado Avalanche 6  v.  (7-4-5) Nashville Predators 5

An exciting Western Conference matchup that totaled 11 goals never let up Monday afternoon. Colorado snapped their nine-game losing streak with a win against a solid playoff team. Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene scored their fourth and six goals respectively, continuing their offensive flurry for the Avalanche.

A couple new comers to the scoring column showed up tonight as well: Chuck Kobasew and Tyson Barrie. Nashville’s Mike Fisher and Shea Weber scored their second and third goals. Colorado is trying to right the shaky ship and keeping everyone involved on the scoring sheet is one way to do it.

(7-9-1) Philadelphia Flyers 7  v.  (6-8-1) New York Islanders 0

The New York Islanders made history Monday in the worst way. The Islanders posted their worst home loss in team history to a team that has struggled all season long.

Danny Brière and Claude Giroux scored twice for the Flyers tallying their fourth and fifth goals of the season. Matt Read quietly recorded his seventh of the year in the win as well. The Islanders Evgeni Nabokov looked shaky and out-of-place all game long and at times like he was not even trying.

(8-6-2) Ottawa Senators 2  v.  (9-3-4) New Jersey Devils 1 F/SO

The New Jersey Devils have dropped three of their last four and the latest in dramatic fashion. Stephen Gionta started things quickly for the Devils with a first period goal in the first two minutes of play. After Daniel Alfredsson rang the post in the second period, he would not be denied again with the game-tying goal in the third.

Even overtime was not enough to settle this matchup. The shootout was anti-climactic, however, with the devils missing the net on two out three attempts. Ottawa’s Jakob Silfverberg netted the game winner as the second shooter for the Senators giving Ottawa their eighth victory of the season.

Breaking News and Injury Updates

Red Wings’ Franzen, Gustavsson swap places on IR

Detroit placed forward Johan Franzen on injured reserve Monday with a hip injury. Franzen has missed the last two games with the injury.

On the same day the Red Wings recalled goalie Jonas Gustavsson to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. Gustavsson has appeared in one game for Detroit having been plagued by a groin injury. Continue reading

Weekly NHL Update: Feb. 8

By: Michael Condon


Red hot Lightning face off with Devils at The Rock

Following a 6-1 start the Tampa Bay Lightning have hit a bit of a snag with two straight losses to Atlantic division teams. The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers handled the offensively stacked Lightning fairly well. Things got off to a slow start again Thursday night.

Things opened with a goal from Adam Henrique, his second of the year. Coming back from injury only three games ago, Henrique has picked up exactly where he left off last year. His best quality is his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. His positioning is second to none.

Less than ten shots through the first period looked far from the NHL best 4.4 goals per game fans are used to seeing from Tampa Bay. An anemic start to the game led to a first period deficit of one.

The second period held more power play opportunities for both sides and a much more back and forth flow to the game. As the pace picked up it was obvious the faster the game moved the more it benefited the Lightning. About halfway through the second, Nate Thompson evened the score at one with his first goal of the season.

Thompson, not your typical offensive weapon, reared the rewards of playing in the same line of assist machine Martin St. Louis. What looked to be a broken play was revived by the smooth stick work of St. Louis with a good feed to the slot for Thompson who finished the rest.

The next goal was more a result of special teams. Ilya Kovalchuk scored his third goal of the year shorthanded after a heads up defensive play in his own end. Kovalchuk picked off a pass from the point and took it coast to coast to put the Devils up 2-1. Kovalchuk is starting to see results from the 26 minutes per game he spends on the ice. He leads the NHL in time on the ice, and that only reflects the confidence the organization shows in him in all situations.

Tampa Bay opened the third period like a house on fire. Dominating 5-on-5 for the first five minutes led to the first goal scoring opportunities for each team. Steven Stamkos slipped a rebound through the crease past a sprawling Martin Brodeur. Unfortunately the shot also slipped past the post and slid into the corner.

The first half of the final period was dominated by the Lightning. They came out with good speed and kept the Devils on their heels. Martin Brodeur is a goalie that likes to play the puck and almost become a third defenseman in the process. Tampa Bay countered Brodeur well by intercepting more than a couple of these passes that they were able to turn into offensive chances.

However, after playing so well for 15 minutes the Lightning fell apart. A bogus call on St. Louis led to a power play opportunity. This became a 5-on-3 after a high sticking penalty. The Devils capitalized on the advantage with a wrist shot from Andy Greene in the slot. Fourteen seconds later, while still on the power play, Patrick Elias found the back of the net on a deflected shot by a Tampa Bay defenseman.

The teams finally got back to 5-on-5 play with less than three minutes left in regulation, but it was interrupted with a hooking call and an embellishment to go along with it.

The hooking went to Victor Hedman, the embellishment to David Clarkson. It looked like it lit a fire under the Lightning. Matt Carle scored just 30 seconds later making it 4-2.

Vincent Lecavalier had a golden opportunity to score on a break away chance but saw the puck come off the end of his stick on the shot.

With the loss the Lightning fall to 4-2 and drop their third straight after a 6-1 start. The Devils climbed to 15 points, good enough for first place in the Atlantic division.

NHL Roundup: Other notable matchups from around the league

(4-5-1) Florida Panthers 3  v.  (4-6-1) Philadelphia Flyers 2 F/SO

The Flyers’ struggles continued with a loss to the Panthers Thursday night. After losing a 2-1 lead half way through the third period things looked destined for overtime. Jakub Voracek and Matt Read scored for Philadelphia, while Jack Skille and Stephen Weiss matched for Florida. The Flyers would drop their first non-regulation loss 2-0 in the shootout.

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