Michigan to Play Similar South Dakota State, VCU Looks for Win Against Tall Akron

For college basketball fans, the long-awaited four days of interrupted action is ready to begin.

The brackets didn’t offer too many surprises and for now, there seems to be somewhat of a consensus for the Final Four. But we all know things can change.

In the South region, two games will kick things off on Thursday. First, there’s #4 Michigan (26-7, 12-6) vs. #13 SDSU (25-9, 13-3). The young Wolverines, loaded with talent, will face a team very similar in style and strengths. This could be more interesting than it looks on paper. The game is at 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS.

The second regional game is #5 VCU (26-8, 12-4) vs. #12 Akron (26-6, 14-2). VCU’s defense is tough but Akron will enter their game with a lot confidence from this season’s 19-game win streak. The game is at 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

Michigan vs. SDSU

For Michigan, they’ll kick off their tournament close to home in Auburn Hills and will enter as the strong favorites to win this game.

Michigan's Trey Burke

Michigan’s Trey Burke

Both teams have talented point guards, Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota’s Nate Wolters, who are very accurate from the perimeter. Burke has been a candidate for the player of the year award. He has a 19.2 point per game average while Wolters is higher at 22.7. Against IPFW last month, he scored 53 points–the highest number this season in Division I play.

Michigan coach John Beilein said of the match up, “I think what both teams have is terrific point guards, and you get the ball into those two young men’s hands and anything can happen. The way the game is played now, there are things happening in transition that it’s just hard to practice for. In order to run, people have got to make stops. We have to make stops. They have to make stops. But when both teams are running, they’re really good.”

Neither team incurs either a lot of fouls or turnovers.

Supporting the star guards is their 3-point shooters. Michigan has Nik Stauskas at 45 percent, followed by Tim Hardaway Jr. at 37 percent. The Jackrabbits will bring their 3-pointer duo of Chad White and Jordan who are both 43 percent shooters.

The Wolverines hold their opponents to 13 free throws per game–the lowest in the country–followed by, of course, the Jackrabbits at 13.4. Michigan also does a good job not turning over the ball, 9.2 times per game, representing the lowest in the country.

This is a tough match up but the nod goes to Michigan (-11.5, 140.5 o/u).

VCU vs. Akron

Who can forget VCU as 2011’s Cinderella team?

For its third straight NCAA tournament visit, VCU will again bring its high-tempo defense and four players who score in double digits including leading-scorer, guard Treveon Graham with his 15.5 point average. They also have 6’9″  forward Juvonte Reddic who is the tallest player in the rotation.

The team is led by their respected and young coach, Shaka Smart. He has turned down offers for more prestigious coaching positions and because he’s stayed, his players are very loyal to him.

Akron has veteran coach Keith Dambrot. He and Smart are old acquaintances but this won’t stop him from wanting to win on Thursday. He is also LeBron James former high school coach and the NBA star spends a lot of time with the team.

Akron's Zeke Marshall

Akron’s Zeke Marshall

The Zips have 7′ center Zeke Marshall. He is the team’s leading scoring, averaging 13 points per game, and the all-time leading and active NCAA-leading shot-blocker for the MAC. He is joined by five other teammates at least 6’7″.

Does size matter for this game? Smart has been down this road before and says it’s a wait-and-see situation while Dambrot is confident it will make a difference for the speedy VCU.

Unfortunately Vegas doesn’t think so. VCU gets the win (-7.5, 133.5 o/u).




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