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2018 NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview

(Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

2018 NCAA Tournament
Rob Gray is the 2018 NCAA Tournament leading scorer. He is one to watch while Houston looks for a win over Michigan (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

One round in and the bracket has been turned on its head. According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, there are ZERO perfect brackets remaining on their site. Burn ’em, shred ’em, or just throw them away because its time to root for another wild round of basketball. March is known for its madness, and the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament had its fair share. For the first time since the 64 team bracket was adopted in 1985, there will be a 16 seed in the round of 32. Yes, the University of Maryland, Baltimore Couty defeated Virginia to become the first 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed in tournament history. Along with UMBC, two 13 seeds, Marshall and Buffalo, pulled off the upset over their 4th seeded opponents. I cannot say for certain that the second round will deliver the same magnitude of upsets, but I sure hope it comes close.

Marquee Matchups

Sorry to deceive you, but that headline is a trap. If possible I wouldn’t miss a single game over the next two days. Just looking through the matchups there are no games that I can pick a definite winner. All 32 teams remaining have individual players or a specific style of play that could lead them to victory. For example, look at the three 9 seeds playing 1 seeds. Seton Hall has lots of upperclassmen and Angel Delgado is an incredible post player. Alabama has a future lottery pick in Collin Sexton. Florida State has about 75 humungous guys banging around in the paint. On the bright side, its the weekend! Plant yourself in front of the nearest tv for the next two days because it could deliver some spectacular basketball.

Weekend Storylines

  • UMBC

Unfortunately, fans have wait to see everyone’s darling team of the tournament. After shocking the college basketball world Friday night, the Retrievers look to pull another upset over Kansas State. After watching them in round 1 anything is possible, especially if they come out with that same intensity. However, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats looked dominant in a win over Creighton that they controlled throughout. The country will be backing UMBC, and it would be incredible to see another performance like we saw Friday.

  • Purdue Center Isaac Haas Out For Tournament

I personally hate seeing great players have their college careers end due to injury. Unfortunately, that will be the case for Purdue’s All Big-Ten center, Isaac Haas. The 7’2 giant was drug to the floor early in the second half Friday, subsequently landing on his elbow causing it to fracture. Haas has been a great player at Purdue throughout his four-year career. A Purdue team which entered the tournament with Final Four aspirations will greatly miss their big man in the middle. Their next game will be against in-state rival Butler. The undersized Bulldogs will definitely try to take advantage of a now much smaller Purdue team. This will be a tough test for the Boilermakers without their reliable center. They could definitely be on upset alert in this one.

  • Hillbilly Throwdown in San Diego

The Battle of West Virginia will be held about 2,500 miles from the Mountain State. Sunday night West Virginia will face off with in-state foe Marshall in what has the potential to be a fast-paced, high scoring affair. West Virginia aka “Press Virginia” loves to full court press, trap, and go for steals. This high-risk high reward style often helps the Mountaineers light up the scoreboard. Marshall is coached by Dan D’Antoni, the brother of “7 seconds or less” aficionado, Mike D’Antoni. As would be expected, he too loves to get his team going up and down, attempting tons of threes, and scorching the scoreboard. This will be one worth watching, especially if the Thundering Herd can avoid turnovers leading to easy West Virginia buckets.

Primetime Players Watch

  • Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State

The Big-Ten Player of the Year was unguardable in the first round against South Dakota State. The 6’7 small forward added another marvelous game to his season, putting up 24 points and 12 rebounds. Next up for Ohio State is a rematch from early in the season against 2017 NCAA runner-up Gonzaga. While Bates-Diop is a tough man to guard, Gonzaga has several talented wings to throw at him. Furthermore, the Bulldogs will still have revenge on their mind en route to a championship game return.

  • Rob Gray, Houston

The 6’1 guard refused to let his team be eliminated by San Diego State in the first round Thursday. Gray poured in 39 points including the game-winning up and under bucket with 1 second remaining. In addition to his scoring outburst, Gray also grabbed 8 rebounds to secure Houston the 67-65 victory. The Michigan Wolverines are the next challenge for the Cougars. Michigan has been a trendy Final Four pick and will do their best to make things difficult for the Houston guard. The larger Wolverine backcourt will probably try to be physical and force Gray to score over their length. However, if they cannot slow him down, expect Gray and the Cougars to keep their tournament hopes alive.

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