2017 NCAA Viewing Guide: Regional Semifinals
So, you know, the Boilers are in the Sweet 16, nbd. In the interest of keeping this a family-friendly site, we'll skip any commentary on what happened during the game and merely note that while the Big Tenteen is still having an off year, this is the point where it's actually noticeable. (Even with second-round upsets clearing the way, the conference is still on track to have no Final Four teams* for the second straight year, the first time that's happened since 2003-04.) While an older basketball fan would struggle to find Big East teams in the regionals - Butler and Xavier are the lone remaining representatives, both in the bottom half of the bracket - you only have to look at the header image to see where the Good Guys and their conference opponents are hanging out. Kenpom, tell us who might win ...
*Just as a reminder, unless otherwise indicated, NCAA tournament facts from my database exclude vacated appearances.
Thursday, 9:39 PM: 4 Purdue sort-of-at 1 Kansas (-3), CBS
Also known as Semi-Away. To be honest, Kansas fans would probably travel just about anywhere to see a #1 seed ... but then Iowa State fans had no trouble getting up to Milwaukee, and look how that turned out for them.
Of course you've listened to the Official Boiled Sports Bathrobe Preview ... what? Well, go listen, then. We expect all students to come to class prepared. You've had plenty of time to finish your reading; you can ask a fellow student for their notes later. Now go!
For the rest of you loyal listeners, let's just say that Purdue is facing a team a lot like they are, except that Kansas is much worse from the line (.759 to .676; we're not talking a couple of points' difference here) and much better at blocks (11.5%, 64th) and steals (9.6%, 91) on defense. The Jayhawks do give up a ton more offensive boards, though (29.7%, actually worse than the DI average of 29.3%), which is why they're a few places behind the Good Guys in defensive efficiency.
I feel comfortable saying two things about this matchup: Purdue has a shot if they can keep turnovers down, and neither fan base will be happy with the coaching Thursday night.
Thursday, 7:09 PM: 7 Michigan vs 3 Oregon (-1), CBS
As those of you ahead of me in the Boiled Sports group on ESPN already know, roughly one person in four picked Michigan to upset Louisville here in Indianapolis. (Let's not talk about the rest of the bracket.) Those were the people who expected the fire-and-brick-wall Wolverine team that stormed through the last couple of months like a 13-year-old on the hurdles in Track & Field. (Not with the trackball. Buttons or nothing.)
They may also be the same ones who are noting that three Ducks get 20% or more of Oregon's possessions, and one of them is out. Setting aside Chris Boucher's defense (which is kind of like setting aside Biggie's defensive rebounding), when you consider that Oregon will be missing a post who has an ORtg above 115 and a turnover percentage lower than all but one of the turnover-averse Wolverines (Boucher is at 11.4%, which is lower than all of the Good Guys as well), that itself should be enough to flip the spread. Take into account Oregon's lackluster performance against Rhode Island in the second round, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see John Beilein in the Elite Eight again, just as some of us predicted. (Never you mind about who I picked to knock out Michigan for a Final Four spot.)
Friday, 9:59 PM: 8 Wisconsin vs 4 Florida (-3), TBS
The Badgers may have waited a bit longer to turn on the postseason nitrous, but they're in New York City because their offense blew past Virginia Tech and their defense put the brakes on the defending champs. Unlike the games above, there isn't a compelling reason to think Wisconsin will make it to an eminently-winnable regional final against Baylor or South Carolina: Florida's defense is actually better than Wisconsin's, and that thing about free throws? 7 for 16 on Saturday afternoon. There are just too many factors that seem to point a close game in Florida's direction, and Wisconsin's slow pace is offset by Florida's desire to run - you can bury the Badgers more easily than the Gators.
OK, yeah, I still hold 2000 against them, and I'd be fine if Wisconsin never won another tournament game as long as I live (and my grandmother lived to be almost 101, so that's no idle wish, even for someone my age) ... but where a Bo Ryan team would have found itself in the Final Four without even trying, Greg Gard just doesn't have the same pieces, and if I get to watch a Purdue-Michigan regional final and completely skip the East final, well, who am I to complain? (That's a joke. You should have heard me during the Iowa State game. Or after it.)