4) Indiana vs. (12) Virginia Commonwealth: South Region
Indiana 26-8, 11-7 Big Ten (At large)
VCU 29-6, 15-3 CAA (Conference Tournament Champions)
Time: 7:10 p.m. Saturday
Location: Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
First round results
Indiana def. New Mexico State 79-66
VCU def. Wichita State 62-59
Winner will face: (1) Kentucky or (8) Iowa State, Friday in Atlanta
Indiana No. 16 AP; No. 17 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
VCU No. 32 AP; No. 31 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Line: Indiana -5 (O/U 139)
Players to Watch
Indiana: C Cody Zeller, 6-11 Fr. (15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 62.6% FG); F Christian Watford, 6-9 Jr. (12 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 42.2% 3s); x Jordan Hulls, 6-0 Jr. (11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 49.2% 3s). Watford got the Hoosiers off to a hot start with a pair of 3s to open the game and he finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. When Watford is scoring, the Hoosiers are nearly unbeatable.
VCU: F Bradford Burgess, 6-6 Sr. (13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 36.6% 3s); G Darius Theus, 6-3 Jr. (8.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.9 spg); G Troy Daniels, 6-4 Jr. (10 ppg, 1.2 spg, 38.5% 3s). Daniels’ shooting was key in VCU’s upset of the Shockers. He was 4-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-5 from deep for 10 points. He also gave the Rams six big rebounds.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Indiana: Indiana shot 55.1 percent and out-rebounded a much bigger, stronger New Mexico State in a 13-point win that really wasn’t even that close. The Hoosiers have one of the most efficient offenses in the country. They shoot 49 percent from the floor (sixth in the country), 43.6 from 3 (second nationally) and 76.3 percent from the foul line (11th in the country). They have shot 47.9 percent or better in four of their last five games (and have won 4-of-5) and has shot 40 percent or better from 3 in their last seven straight (and won six of them). Indiana has gotten to the line more than all but 14 teams in the country.
VCU: The Rams are winners. After going to the Final 4 last year, VCU has won 19 of its last 10. The Rams expect to win these games. Burgess, who made the big 3 in Thursday’s win, is an excellent leader and go-to scorer. The Rams win with defense. For the year, they have 371 steals (10.5 per game), which leads the nation, and force 17.8 turnovers per game. They have an astounding plus-6.4 turnover margin and a solid 1.07 assist-to-turnover ratio. They also hold opponents to 42.2 percent shooting and 31.8 percent from deep.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Indiana: Perimeter defense has been an issue of late. Wisconsin hit 13-of-26 from 3 in the Hoosiers’ Big Ten quarterfinal loss. Until the Aggies went 4-for-12 on Thursday, Indiana had given up 38 percent or better from 3 in six straight games. The Hoosiers turn the ball over 12.9 times per game, including 12 Thursday, and that could be an issue against a strong VCU pressure defense. The Hoosiers have turned the ball over on nearly one of every five possessions throughout the season.
VCU: The Rams struggle to score. They average 68.2 points but many of those points come from their defense. They shoot just 41 percent from the floor. They Rams were out-rebounded by their opponents by 1.4 per game this year. Those will both be concerns for coach Shaka Smart against Hoosiers team that plays solid defense and rebounds fairly well.
The Bottom Line: Very interesting game. Indiana’s offense looked incredible against a much bigger NMSU squad, and VCU’s defense looked stellar against a great Wichita State offense. If Indiana can beat the Rams’ pressure, it should win going away. Whether the Hoosiers can do that, though, is in question.
CollegeHoops.Net Pick: Indiana 69, VCU 59
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 206-158-6 (Through Thursday, March 16)