NCAA Tournament 2012 TV Schedule: Previewing the Midwest Region

Alan RubensteinAnalyst IIIMarch 16, 2012

NCAA Tournament 2012 TV Schedule: Previewing the Midwest Region

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    Top-seed North Carolina and No. 2 Kansas highlight the play as the Midwest region commences play in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

    North Carolina is out to improve on its loss in the ACC championship game to Florida State. Kansas will try to show that losses to much lower-seeded teams in the last two years are in the past.

    Many intriguing matchups of offense-oriented teams versus defense-oriented teams should provide some some great games on Friday.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Vermont, 4:10 EDT, TBS

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    Vermont travels to Greensboro, NC after winning its First Four game in Dayton on Wednesday night. It was the Catamounts' first NCAA tournament win since their memorable upset win over Syracuse in the then-first round. 

    Led by Four McGlynn, the Catamounts came from behind early to take a 30-21 halftime lead and then cruise in the second half. McGlynn scored 18 points off the bench to spark Vermont. He was the only player in the country to lead his team in scoring (12.2 PPG) while playing in every game off the bench. 

    North Carolina’s John Henson will be a game-time decision with a sore wrist. Even without Henson, UNC should be able to use its size advantage. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller should be able to exploit a Vermont frontline that doesn’t start anyone taller than 6’7". North Carolina averages 10 rebounds per game more than Vermont. 

    Vermont’s only chance will be to slow the game down and shoot well on their threes, not something they or North Carolina do particularly well. Both teams shot just 34 percent beyond the arc. Vermont’s biggest advantage is at the line, where they connect at a 74-percent rate to just 68 percent for North Carolina. 
    Vermont forward Brian Voelkel is a potential triple-double. He averages 4.7 PPG, 5.3 APG and 8.7 RPG. 
    Matt Glass and Luke Apfeld also score in double figures for the Catamounts.

    UNC point guard Kendall Marshall should be able to dictate the pace. Marshall was second in the nation in assists for the nation’s second highest scoring team. Even without Henson in Greensboro, the Heels roll. 

No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama, 1:40 EDT, CBS

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    Alabama-Creighton is the classic matchup of contrasting styles. It's often what the NCAA tournament is all about. Creighton’s success has come from its offense. The Crimson Tide relies on defense. 

    The Blue Jays are led by sophomore forward Doug McDermott, son of coach Greg McDermott. McDermott averages 23.2 ppg, 61.0 FG pct., 49.5 3-pt FG pct., 79.9 FT pct. He is one of the most complete offensive players in the country. 

    Alabama relies on JaMychal Green (14.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 54.5 FG%) offensively. He is one of only two 'Bama players on the postseason roster who average in double figures. Tony Mitchell was suspended for the season in early February, and Trevor Releford puts up 11.9 PPG and 81.1 free-throw percentage.

    'Bama has to keep the pace slow to have a chance. Creighton averages 80.0 PPG, while Alabama gives up just 58. Creighton shoots 42.5 percent from three, while the Tide converts just 28 percent from beyond the arc. 

    Alabama has a clear edge in advantage in athleticism, while the Blue Jays offense gives them a big advantage. Teams with the best players on the floor are usually the ones that advance. It could come down to which team’s best player prevails. McDermott has come up big for Creighton all season. In a game of Creighton offense vs. Alabama’s defense, the Blue Jays should be able to make more shots down the stretch to advance to play North Carolina. 

No. 5 Temple vs. No. 12 South Florida, 9:50 EDT, TNT

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    Another matchup of contrasting styles, the Owls have an efficient offense with a big backcourt. Fran Dunphy’s three-guard offense is at least 6’4" per man. Temple averages 76.0 PPG, shoots 47 percent from the floor and 40 percent on threes.

    South Florida wants to make the game ugly. South Florida broke the 60-point mark for the first time in six games against Cal on Wednesday, while Temple hasn’t scored less than 64 in any game this season.
    Temple is an experienced team led by their senior backcourt of Ramone Moore (17.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.5 APG) and Khalif Wyatt (17.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG 3.5 APG). Senior Michael Eric leads the frontcourt (9.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.0 BPG).

    The Bulls are led by their defense. The allowed California to score just 13 points in the first half of their first four matchup. They allow just 56.9 PPG (seventh in the nation) and a 38.8 field-goal percentage defense against (16th best).

    No South Florida players average in double figures. Offensively they rely on their balance (seven players average at least 6.7 PPG) and point guard Anthony Collins (8.6 PPG, 5.2 APG).

    Temple has been here before and has a more experienced team with a much better offense. Their balanced offense should be too much for South Florida. 

No. 4 Michigan vs No. 13 Ohio, 7:20 EDT, TNT

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    Michigan has had its best season in 14 years and a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1986. Michigan relies on the three-point shot. They only connect on 35 percent of their shots, but if freshman Trey Burke, sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. and senior Zack Novak get hot, they could carry the Wolverines. 

    Ohio relies on its speed. The Bobcats finished fifth in the country in turnover margin, forcing 17.6 turnovers per game. They come in having won eight of their last nine, including upsetting Akron in the MAC championship game. Michigan is coming off an 21-point loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. 

    Junior D.J. Cooper leads the team in scoring (14.7 PPG) and assists (5.7 APG). Sophomore guard Nick Kellogg (Clark’s son) is the only Bobcat shooting over 40 percent from three. 

    The stereotype is live by the three, die by the three. Cooper and OU coach John Groce have proven they can pull off a shocking upset, having beaten third-seed Georgetown two years ago as a No. 14 seed. 
    It should be a close one, but Michigan’s balance should prevail. 

No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Detroit, 9:57 EDT, TruTV

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    Kansas begins its 2012 NCAA tournament in Omaha after suffering another disappointing exit in 2011, losing to VCU in the regional final. KU has been eliminated by a mid-major two years in a row as Northern Iowa shocked the Jayhawks in 2010. 

    Kansas is led by junior forward Thomas Robinson, a national player of the year candidate. Not unlike last year’s second pick in the draft, Derrick Williams of Arizona, Robinson led the Jayhawks in scoring (17.9 PPG) rebounding (11.8 RPG) and three-point shooting (46.2). He has a nice complementary core including guard Tyshaun Taylor (17.3 PPG, 4.8 APG and 43.5 three-point percentage) and center Jeff Withey (9.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 3.3 BPG)

    Detroit has four players average in double figures, led by sophomore guard Ray McCallum (15.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG). Detroit can also match KU’s size with Eli Holman (10.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG) and LaMarcus Lowe.

    With Kansas’ past history of not living up to potential and Detroit having the size and diversified scoring attack to match the Jayhawks, it seems as if Detroit has a chance like VCU and Northern Iowa before them.

    Kansas seems determined. They won the Big 12 title outright for the eighth year in a row. Detroit should make it difficult, but behind a crowd that has to travel just three hours, Kansas should advance. 

No. 7 St. Mary’s vs. No.. 10 Purdue, 7:27 EDT, TruTV

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    The Gaels won their first West Coast conference outright title since 1989. St. Mary’s is led by point guard Matthew Dellevadova and forward Rob Jones. Dellevadova averages 15.6 PPG, 6.4 APG and shoots 85.3 percent from the foul line. Jones’ 19 double-doubles ranked fourth in the country.

    After missing the 2011 season with a torn ACL, Robbie Hummel has returned for Purdue and has been the team leader. He averages 16.3 PPG and 7.1 RPG. He also shoots the ball well from the line (83.1) and on threes (37.1). Point guard Lewis Jackson leads an offense that had the fewest turnovers in the country. 

    St. Mary’s leads Purdue in nearly every category head to head. With more firepower, the Gaels should prevail. 

No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 North Carolina State, 12:40 EDT, TruTV

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    San Diego State returns to the NCAA tournament a year after their best season in school history. Steve Fisher guided the Aztecs back after losing four starters from 2011. 

    North Carolina State is led by forward C.J. Leslie. With four double-digit scorers, they are more than just Leslie though. Forward Scott Wood shoots the ball well from beyond the arc. 

    San Diego State is led by the tandem of Chase Tapley and Mountain West player of the year Jamaal Franklin. Neither team shoots the ball exceptionally well from three, with both teams around 35 percent. Wood and Tapley are their teams' best three-point shooters. 

    West Coast teams coming East have traditionally struggled in the tournament. The game will begin at 9:40 Pacific Time. NC State showed they are improved under Mark Gottfried. Making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006, NC State has a great chance at an upset. 

No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont, 3:10 EDT, TruTV

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    After nearly upsetting Duke early in the season, Belmont will be up for the challenge of playing Georgetown. 

    The Bruins will want to push the pace. Their 81.5 PPG ranked fourth in the country. They also average 8.8 made three pointers per game and connect at 37.8 percent. 

    Georgetown relies on the Princeton offense. They play a more patient, deliberate pace. They shoot the ball well, but not from three-point range. 

    Kerron Johnson (14.1 PPG) leads the Bruins in scoring, and Drew Hanlen is a player to watch on the perimeter (10.9 PPG, 48.1 three-point percentage). 

    Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims average in double figures for the Hoyas, but it's their defense that should prove to be too much for Belmont. The Hoyas allow opponents to shoot just 38 percent from the floor and 27 percent on threes. 

    If Belmont gets hot, they could keep it close for a while, but Georgetown should be able to pull away late.