Here’s the Sunday edition of Calling the Games I Got Wrong. I was three-for-three yesterday, so I’m hoping to make it 7-for-7 after today. I am still in awe over the Shockers’ upset of Gonzaga last night, and am dumbstruck that Oregon will be facing Louisville in the Sweet 16. At least one other double-digit seed will be joining the Ducks in the next round – and we could see as many as four of them move on today. Again, I’m not going to redo my predictions or write-ups on any games I got right, but here’s a rundown on the ones I got wrong.
(2) Ohio State vs. (10) Iowa State
At least I got one of these teams right. Ohio State blew Iona out of the water with big games out of Deshaun Thomas and Sam Thompson. While Aaron Craft was ineffective scoring the basketball, the junior guard aided the Buckeyes with seven assists and six steals. The half-dozen swipes were the second-most in Craft’s career, matching the total he had against Cincinnati in last year’s tournament. Off the bench, Shannon Scott neared a triple-double, with seven points, seven boards, and 10 rebounds. The more intriguing team here is Iowa State, whose frontcourt scoring was too much for Notre Dame. The Cyclones were spurred by Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang, and Ejim led the team with eight rebounds and five dimes. At first glance, their guards look to have underperformed – no one outside the frontcourt ended up in double figures – but the Cyclone backcourt shot effectively, especially from downtown, and only committed two turnovers all game. OSU’s forwards, Thomas and Thompson, should match up with Ejim and Niang better than Notre Dame did, and the Buckeyes guards will likely outplay the Cyclones’ backcourt. Will Clyburn, ISU’s leading scorer, will need to have a much bigger game to swing the balance. Fred Hoiberg has built quite a foundation in Ames, but I don’t think he’ll outcoach Thad Matta in this one. Look for big games out of Craft and Thomas. Prediction: Ohio State 79, Iowa State 66
(1) Indiana vs. (9) Temple
Boy, Khalif Wyatt can play. His 31 points led the Owls in their win over North Carolina State, often leaving Lorenzo Brown in his wake as he hit a bunch of jumpers and layups. Perhaps most importantly, he only turned the ball over once in 38 minutes, which made up for the fact that he shot poorly from beyond the arc. In fact, the Owls only turned it over five times all game, playing the exact kind of disciplined game they needed to in order to overcome the rebounding disadvantage that they suffered against the Wolfpack. Indiana, on the other hand, out-rebounded their opponents, James Madison, and looked dominant early. Yogi Ferrell led the Hoosiers in scoring, rebounding, and assists – 16, eight, and six – and Will Sheehey put in 15 points of his own. Cody Zeller was puzzlingly ineffective, notching as many turnovers (four) as he did rebounds and made field goals. The stars of Indiana, notably Zeller and Victor Oladipo, will need better games in order to put away a tough Owls team. Both squads run with six-man rotations, for the most part, and we will see a big-time matchup between somewhat similar teams. Players like Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Scootie Randall will be important for Temple, but the inside battle between Zeller and Jake O’Brien might be most important. Another key will be the struggle between Wyatt and Oladipo. In the end, though, I think Indiana pulls away from a very, very capable Temple team. Prediction: Indiana 74, Temple 68
(7) San Diego State vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast
Wow. I mildly sang the praises of the Eagles before dismissing just about any chance they had to beat the Hoyas on Friday. Well, FGCU did just that, besting Georgetown by ten points to become the third team in the last two years to pull off the 15-2 upset. This is not just a simple fluke team, though – remember, the Eagles beat Miami (FL) earlier this season, before anyone knew how good the Hurricanes were. They have no less than four stellar players who run their team – all of whom can score and rebound. Brett Comer, the team’s point guard, had 12 points, 10 assists, and six boards, while scoring guards Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson combined for 47 points and 16 rebounds. Forward Chase Fieler was quieter in the scoring department with only nine points, but his seven rebounds and three blocks were instrumental. In fact, I think this Florida Gulf Coast team is a serious threat to San Diego State. Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley won’t go down without a fight, but if the Aztecs struggle at all to score, the Eagles could strike and make some more history. Ask Otto Porter – it’s not just about how good your team is, but how good they are today. And today, well… something tells me Florida Gulf Coast becomes the first 15-seed in the Sweet 16. Prediction: Florida Gulf Coast 68, San Diego State 64
(12) Ole Miss vs. (13) La Salle
Perhaps the most interesting of the matchups in this round, we are guaranteed our second double-digit Sweet 16 participant. La Salle scored a huge upset of Kansas State on Friday, riding the momentum from their triumph in Dayton over Boise State. Ramon Galloway and Jerrell Wright were fantastic against the Wildcats, combining for 40 points as Galloway played all 40 minutes. Wright’s 21 in just 25 minutes on six-of-six shooting was incredibly efficient, and the big man added eight rebounds and a couple blocks, to boot. Unfortunately for K-State, guards Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez combined for a sorry 5-of-23 shooting on the night. La Salle will face some hotter shooters than that in Ole Miss, who come into this game riding a six-game win streak that includes wins over Missouri, Florida, and most recently, Wisconsin. Not only are those three good teams, but they are teams which play different styles. I was surprised to see Marshall Henderson, Murphy Holloway, and the rest of the Rebs run the Badgers out of the building in the second half of Friday’s game. Ole Miss actually out-rebounded Wisconsin, which was a shock to me, and if they keep up this kind of play, they should have no trouble rolling over La Salle. The Rebels came out slowly, but caught fire in the second half. Even 20 minutes of an effective Henderson should send Ole Miss to a Sweet 16 matchup with Wichita State next week. Prediction: Ole Miss 75, La Salle 62
Okay, now enjoy your Sunday – sit back, relax, and watch some really, really interesting basketball. I know I will.