1. #6 San Diego State vs. #11 North Carolina State
While I’m still not convinced the Wolfpack actually deserve to be in the tournament, I do like their first round matchup.
Sophomore C.J. Leslie has been fantastic down the stretch, and the Aztecs have very little size inside, which could mean guys like Leslie and Richard Howell could wreak havoc on the glass. SDSU also struggles to defend the three-point line, while NC State sharpshooter Scott Wood is among the nation’s best long-range snipers.
On the other end of the floor, the Aztecs haven’t posted gaudy offensive efficiency numbers, which is definitely a concern. However, I am admittedly hesitant to pick against Jamaal Franklin, who has been phenomenal for Steve Fisher’s team this year. Despite standing just 6-foot-5, Franklin led the team in scoring and rebounding and scored a number of clutch baskets. However, outside of Chase Tapley, no SDSU player shoots over 33 percent from long range, which will allow shot-blockers like Leslie to stay close to the basket.
2. #6 Cincinnati vs. #11 Texas
Give some kudos to Rick Barnes, who guided a team forced to play six freshmen into the tournament. In all, seven Longhorns score at least seven points or grab at least four rebounds, not including Alexis Wangmene, who is out for the year with a broken wrist. J’Covan Brown is one of two non-freshmen in the rotation and has been fantastic throughout the season. He’s averaging 20.1 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, and he’s capable of carrying the team to a victory here if he gets hot. One area where Texas appears to have a clear statistical advantage is on the offensive glass, where they 16th on offensive rebounding percentage and Cincinnati ranks outside of the Top 250.
And while I like the Bearcats’ backcourt and experience, their shooting percentages leave a lot to be desired. If they struggle with their outside shooting and start giving up second chance points, Texas could spring the upset. Truth be told, I picked Cincinnati to win this game, but there are definitely scenarios in which I could see the Bearcats losing.
3. #6 UNLV vs. #11 Colorado
Colorado ripped off four straight wins to earn the Pac-12 automatic bid, and they should come in with plenty of confidence. On offense, the main area where they seem to have an advantage over a tough UNLV defense is in terms of free throw rate. If they can attack the basket, get a player or two in foul trouble, and get to the stripe, the Buffs could hang around. I also love Anthony Roberson’s game and look forward to him squaring off with Mike Moser.
On the defensive end, Colorado has to find a way to limit open looks, because their field goal percentage defense has been suspect. If the Buffs can find a way to do that, they have a chance to spring the upset.
Related: UNLV-Colorado Preview and Prediction
4. #6 Murray State vs. #11 Colorado State
The Rams had a number of big wins at home, but their home/road splits were pronounced, which may not be good news for their tournament future. They also have subpar numbers in quite a few defensive statistics, and I look for Isaiah Canaan and Murray State to take advantage of their poor three-point defense as well as a propensity to put its opponents on the stripe.
The Rams did post solid efficiency numbers on the offensive end, and they have outshot Murray State from long range (although they don’t shoot threes that often). They need to rain threes on the Racers and also get to the free throw line, because they have a distinct advantage in free throw rate on that end of the floor. It also helps that Murray State doesn’t have a ton of height, because the Rams don’t really play anyone over 6-foot-5.
In the end, if Dorian Green gets hot and three-pointers are falling, CSU could spring the upset. Just don’t expect it.
What do you think of the 6-11 matchups?
Which 6-11 matchups do you think will result in the 11 seed winning? (Choose all that apply)
- #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas (26%, 14 Votes)
- #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State (7%, 4 Votes)
- #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State (78%, 42 Votes)
- #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado (19%, 10 Votes)
Total Voters: 54