The coming midweek section in the world of sports will be one in which college basketball will remain the hub of activity. The NCAA Tournament will be on everybody’s mind.
NCAA Tournament Second Round – Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals (Thursday)
Louisville is the hot team that nobody wants to play in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals breezed through the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Memphis, winning three games by an average of over 30 points. Louisville is getting balanced contributions from its roster, but what’s particularly noticeable is that the best players are all getting better. Russ Smith is at his best right now, and teammates Chris Jones and Montrezl Harrell are rapidly improving. Everyone in college basketball is taking Louisville seriously as a Final Four threat. This begins the Cardinals’ journey.
NCAA Tournament Second Round – Wofford Terriers vs. Michigan Wolverines (Thursday)
The Michigan Wolverines made the national championship game last season. They lost star guard Trey Burke to the NBA draft, and they also lost Tim Hardaway, Jr., to the pros as well. Early in the season, big man Mitch McGary was taken out of the lineup due to an injury that has never fully healed. This has been a shorthanded team throughout the Big Ten season, but the Wolverines have simply adjusted. They are tenacious, and they contest rebounds really well despite a lack of quality size in the paint. The three-point shooting of Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert makes Michigan hard to defend on the perimeter. The Wolverines can spread the court. They’ll be hard to beat in March.
NCAA Tournament Second Round – North Carolina State or Xavier vs. Saint Louis Billikens (Thursday)
Saint Louis was headed for a very high seed in the NCAA tournament, and then everything fell apart for the team that still managed to win the Atlantic 10’s regular season championship. Saint Louis had only two losses heading into its final game in the month of February. The Billikens were the owners of a 19-game winning streak and had everything going their way. Suddenly, though, they have lost energy. They appear to be tired and worn down as a result of all the hard work they did in the middle of the season. Saint Louis has lost four of five games and crashed out of the quarterfinals in the Atlantic 10 Tournament against Saint Bonaventure. Will this team bounce back?