The Nevada is part of the Midwest Region in Milwaukee with and are obviously joined by Iowa State, but also No. 4 seeded Purdue and No. 13 Vermont. We decided to preview the rest of the region just in case Nevada gets past Iowa State.
No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten)
The Boilermakers enter the tournament hoping to avenge last year's heartbreaking upset loss to 12-seeded Little Rock. Purdue is led by national player of the year candidate Caleb Swanigan, who finished the regular season averaging 18.5 points and 12.6 rebounds per game and totaled 27 double-doubles.
It's not just Swanigan that makes the Boilers a trendy pick to advance deep in the the tournament, though. Purdue ranks 6th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage at 40.6%, led by Swanigan (43.1%), Dakota Mathias (46.5%), Vince Edwards (43.0%) and Ryan Cline (41.6%). However, the nation's 24th-most efficient offense does stutter at times with turnover issues. In Purdue's three toughest games this season (at Louisville, at Michigan, vs. Villanova), the Boilermakers averaged 15.7 turnovers per game.
If Nevada faces Purdue they will need to be quick on the perimeter to quiet Purdue's three-point barrage (the Wolf Pack is 13th in the country in opponent three-point percentage) and have an answer for Swanigan and 7-2 center Isaac Haas inside. These two teams play at a similar style and pace, so it should make for a very intriguing and closely-contested matchup if the pieces fall into place.
No. 13 Vermont (American East)
Preview from Hammer and Rails:
Vermont is a strong, fundamentally sound team that does not make a lot of mistakes. They average only 11 turnovers per game and 13 team assists. Anthony Lamb, a 6’6” freshman, averages 12.6 points per game as their leading scorer. Payton Henson, a 6’8” junior, is next at 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, is their next leading scorer. Trae Bell-Haynes, a 6’2” guard, is also in double figures at 11.1 per game.
This is a team that spreads its scoring around quite a bit. Seven players average better than 6 points per game and they have a regular rotation of 9 or 10 guys. Ernie Duncan and Lamb both shoot better than 40% from three.
When: Thursday, March 16, 5:27 p.m. ET
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Bradley Center
Online: March Madness On Demand
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
No. 12 Nevada (Mountain West)
For Nevada to pull off the upset, they must contain point guard Monte Morris and Deonte Burton. Morris is averaging 16 points, six assists, and five rebounds a game for the Cyclones while shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three-point line. Burton is a high energy, but undersized, athletic big man who has averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game this season.
Also, another key for the Wolf Pack to secure the victory is that they must attack the boards. Iowa State is one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation as they are ranked 295th in rebounding margin at minus 3.6. The Wolf Pack are a strong rebounding team with a rebounding margin of plus-3.9 (64th in the nation). It is up to the front court duo of Jordan Caroline and Cameron Oliver to crash the glass against an undersized Cyclone front court.
No. 5 Iowa State (Big 12)
Iowa State all starts with point guard Monte Morris, who is set to blow away the NCAA career record for assist-to-turnover ratio after setting the single-season record his freshman year at ISU. Morris leads the nation this season in that statistic at 5.71 heading into the tournament, even better than his 4.79 mark that first season on campus.
As Morris has aged, his role on the team has changed from distributor to shouldering more of the scoring load, and this season he's averaging a career-high 16.3 points per game. There was some concern that his efficiency might drop off as he started to take more shots, but he's largely defied that expectation and has a case for being the best point guard in the entire country, despite being snubbed from the finalist list for the Bob Cousy award. Coach Prohm has loosened the reins and let Morris play with the freedom that you'd expect for a future NBA player.
When: Thursday, March 16, approximately 10 p.m. ET
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Bradley Center
TV: truTV (channel finder)
Radio: 94.5 FM(local)/Westwood One (National)
Stream: March Madness On Demand