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2017 NCAA Tournament: Wichita St. vs. Kentucky among six 2nd-round games we want

March 15,2017 23:19

While I'm very eager for Thursday to arrive, I can't help but dream of what could be coming after that. As I peek past the first round, there are six interesting second-round games that could be delivered to us. Some of these propositions go against my ...and more »



Download the CBS Sports App today and get instant tournament news and alerts, plus play Brackets! While I’m very eager for Thursday to arrive, I can’t help but dream of what could be coming after that. As I peek past the first round, there are six interesting second-round games that could be delivered to us. Some of these propositions go against my own bracket, but these are the games to root for — unless you’re trying to win money otherwise. My intent was pick only five, but there are six scenarios I had to hit: Kentucky-Wichita State (South): This is the most-desired game. The first reason is because
Wichita State Shockers
is mis-seeded, so there’s a heavy contingent of Shockers backers who want to see this team at least win a game and to prove the selection committee silly for putting them on the 10 line to start.Then there’s the
Kentucky Wildcats
intrigue. Seeing the Wildcats against another top-10 team in the metrics would be an unusual first-weekend collision. Normally these types of games are reserved for the Sweet 16 and beyond.And the full-circle irony would be the strongest storyline. Three years ago, when Wichita State was undefeated and a No. 1 seed, the Shockers were put in the same bracket as No. 8 Kentucky. It seemed an unfair potential matchup. Kentucky went on to the national title, proving to be under-seeded. Now, second-seeded Kentucky is given a possible second-round matchup with one of the most talented 10-seeds in history. Will Wichita State do this year to Kentucky what Kentucky did in 2014 to Wichita State?If this game happens, we can only hope for an outcome that is half as good as 2014, when
Kentucky won 78-76
in one of the best tournament games of the past five years. 
Gregg Marshall vs. John Calipari would be a terrific matchup on Friday.
US
Baylor-SMU (West): An all-Texas battle between two of the nation’s 15 best teams. SMU, like Wichita State, is under-seeded. The Mustangs lost only four games and might have more overall talent than
Baylor Bears
. This game would be played in Tulsa. Baylor’s got to get past New Mexico State and Tulsa has to beat Wednesday’s Providence-USC winner. 
SMU Mustangs
is 11th and Baylor 12th at KenPom. Baylor has the better D, SMU the better O. Both teams play relatively slow.
Semi Ojeleye
vs.
Johnathan Motley
: YES PLEASE. This would almost certainly be a close game. If SMU won, it would boost the program and its conference. SMU hasn’t made a Sweet 16 in 50 years, and the American needs teams not named UConn to do well in March. A Baylor loss would mean the Bears failed to reach the second weekend for the third straight year as a 4 seed or better. Arizona-Saint Mary’s (West): I love this possibility. Nobody is giving Saint Mary’s any chance to make the Sweet 16, but let’s not forget that this team has been ranked since the preseason. Randy Bennett’s team ranks 14th at KenPom. Arizona is 20th. There is a good chance this 2-7 game would have Arizona as a one-point favorite, if that. The Gaels have a big man, Aussie
Jock Landale
, who is just awesome (ranks second in kPOY!) and doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves.
Lauri Markkanen
is the Arizona freshman big that most know about. I’d absolutely love to see those two go head to head (Landale is 6-foot-11, Markkanen is 7-0). Arizona is riding high after a Pac-12 tournament win. The Wildcats have a fantastic coach,
Allonzo Trier
playing well and really good parts around them. But Saint Mary’s has a starting five that’s played as a unit for more than 65 games ... while Arizona has young parts.  Duke-Marquette (East): If
Marquette Golden Eagles
gets by South Carolina, it almost certainly gets
Duke Blue Devils
. Now, the game probably won’t be close. Marquette’s only chance is to keep up its NCAA-best 3-point clip; the Golden Eagles make 43 percent of their 3-pointers. The real interest here is Mike Krzyzewski facing former player and longtime assistant, Steve Wojciechowski. If this game comes to be, it would be stressful for both, but more for Coach K. He hates having to coach against former players and assistants. But that won’t stop the public from rubbernecking.  Kansas-Michigan State (Midwest); It’s not a great
Michigan State Spartans
team, but this is March and Tom Izzo is still involved.
Kansas Jayhawks
has reached only one Final Four in six tries (this being the seventh) under Bill Self when it’s a No. 1 seed. Izzo-Self is a spectacular coaching matchup. The two have faced seven times since Self got to Lawrence, with Izzo winning four. They played in the Sweet 16 in 2009, with Kalin Lucas and Michigan State beating Sherron Collins and Kansas 67-62.Izzo just got inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. Self is up for induction this season. This game would feature two lottery picks: Kansas’
Josh Jackson
and Michigan State’s
Miles Bridges
. There is not a bigger potential second-round game between two major brands. It’s rare that the Spartans are in the position of second-round underdog, but they would be, and a sizable one. But never count out Izzo until his team is actually bounced. He is 21-4 on Saturday and Sunday n the first two weekends of the tournament, which is outrageous (check out
a bunch of fun tourney stats here
).
Oregon-Rhode Island/Creighton (Midwest): Reasonable to expect
Oregon Ducks
to get by Iona.
Dillon Brooks
and the Ducks have too much for the Gaels to handle. That means we’ll have an interesting second-round game no matter who wins between the Bluejays and Rams. If it’s
Creighton Bluejays
, then that means Oregon coach Dana Altman goes against the program he ran for 16 seasons, taking the Bluejays to seven NCAAs.If
Rhode Island Rams
wins, we have the potential for one of the most exciting second-round games. The Rams have the talent to match Oregon. Oregon is the best shot-blocking team in the tournament. Rhode Island is No. 2. Block party, baby. Plus, Brooks and EC Matthews playing each other would be great ... unless
Hassan Martin
is assigned to guard Brooks. I’d love to see that. With Oregon hindered with the loss of
Chris Boucher
(shot-blocking prowess takes a big hit), the Ducks could be the most vulnerable 3 seed in the tournament to be taken out before the Sweet 16. 

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