The first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament is over and so is the first half of the Round of 32. But in a scheduling oddity for this COVID-19 impacted year, now we have the second half of the Round of 32 on a Monday of all days.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-No. 8 LUS Tigers vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines
- Time/TV: 7:10 p.m. EDT (CBS)
- Spread: UM by 5
The hot shooting Tigers from Baton Rouge will once again come up against a hot team from the mitten state for a second tournament in a row. However, this time it won’t be the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet 16, but the Michigan Wolverines in the Round of 32.
LSU has been shooting lights out in their last four games. Sine the start of the SEC tournament, the Tigers have scored 76, 78, 79, and 76 points. Cameron Thomas leads the team with 22.8 ppg, and he adds 3.4 rpg and 1.5 apg. Meanwhile, Trendon Watford is second in both scoring and rebounds, averaging 16.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Javonte Smart added 15.6 ppg and leads the team with 3.9 apg, while Darius Davs rounds out the double-figures scorers with 11.8 ppg and leads the team with 8.0 rpg.
The Tigers represent a tough matchup for the Wolverines. They seem more comfortable pushing the pace, going 7-3 overall on the season in games they have had fewer than 70 possessions. While their record in games with 70+ is 12-6, the Wolverines have played in just seven games on the season with that pace, including the first-round win over Texas Southern.
Michigan, down Isaiah Livers, should find a nice game advantage in this one on the offensive glass, though. LSU is 320th in the country at preventing offensive rebounds. Opponents on the season have averaged 32.4 percent against them, while the Wolverines rank just 114th in offensive rebounding percentage themselves. Hunter Dickinson should be used to take advantage against a hot shooting Tigers squad to help buoy second chance points as the freshman big leads the team in both scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg).
This one should be tough for the Wolverines, but the pieces are there to avoid the fate of fellow Big Ten one-seed Illinois and advance to the Sweet 16.
- Pick: Michigan
-No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes
- Time/TV: 12:10 p.m. EDT (CBS)
- Spread: Iowa by 5
The Ducks will enter this one having not played for a full 10 days. Oregon advanced to the Round of 32 following COVID-19 issues among Round of 64 opponent VCU Saturday, and so hasn’t played an actual game since losing to Oregon State in the Semifinals on Friday, March 12. Meanwhile, Iowa powered past Grand Canyon on Saturday in the Round of 64.
Oregon is known as a team that likes to run the ball, but despite that they still rank just 242nd in adjusted tempo per KenPom. They do have an outstanding defense, however. The Ducks led the Pac-12 in field goal percentage. They lack a big man to go toe-to-toe with Luka Garza (who does feature one?), but at least potentially have some bodies to throw for fouls.
This one should be an exciting matchup, though. Both teams are excellent scorers and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot of scoring and momentum swings. Having said that, Iowa should be able to get through this one and advance.
- Pick: Iowa
-No. 10 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
- Time/TV: 8:45 p.m. EDT (TNT)
- Spread: Alabama by 5.5
The SEC and SEC Tournament champs face the Terps as both teams jockey for a Sweet 16 bid. Maryland was last there in 2019 before falling to Bama’s rival the LSU Tigers, while the Crimson Tide haven’t made the second weekend in the tournament since the 2004 tournament.
Maryland will have to channel that defense they brought to bear at times this season to hope for a shot at getting the big upset in this one. Bama features four scorers who average double-digits in guard Jaden Shackelford (14.1 ppg), guard Jahvon Quinerly (12.6 ppg), guard John Petty Jr. (12.2 ppg), and forward Herbert Jones (11.5 ppg).
Quinerly in particular shoots a blistering 449 percent from deep, while Petty averages 37 percent. Overall, Bama ranks 29th in the country in points scored per game (79.2 ppg) and is 147th in points given up (69.3 ppg). Meanwhile, the Terps rank 248th in the country (68.6 ppg), while ranking 45th in points against (64.6 ppg).
This one is a tough out for the Terps. It is not likely they will have enough firepower and ball security to make it past a Crimson Tide squad firing on all cylinders under head coach Nate Oats.
- Pick: Alabama
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