Nashville Late Games: Temple vs. South Florida & Michigan vs. Ohio

South Florida Bulls

Continuing with tournament pod previews, let’s look at the late games in Nashville now that the fourth team is making its way down from Dayton. This pod should provide three very competitive games and is ripe for upsets.

Game 1

4 Michigan Wolverines (24-9, 13-5, KenPom: 25)
Ticket punched when…added Ohio State to their list of victims which already included Wisconsin and Michigan State. UM survived the season without back-to-back losses.
Time zones from campus: 1
Name to know: Tim Hardaway Jr. is already a familiar name. Trey Burke needs to keep his wits about him and take care of the ball to find the open shooter.
Difference maker: Zack Novak is the senior sharp-shooter that can get hot and carry a team. His 62.8 TS% is the real deal.
Bandwagon: Big Blue is in the cluster of very good teams squarely below the half-dozen elite Final Four contenders. They’re not a sleeper pick, but good seats are still available.
Run down: UM is the other team that tied atop the Big 10’s regular season standings. The Wolverines are a young, talented team. The Wolverines are jump-shooters however. They really struggle inside rebounding and don’t get to the free-throw line. That’s a dangerous way to live at tournament time.

13 Ohio Bobcats (24-7, 11-5, KenPom: 71)
Ticket punched when…the Bobcats beat regular season champion Akron to win the MAC’s auto-bid.
Time zones from campus: 1
Name to know: Peter King. Ohio’s most famous alum will be on camera approximately 483 times during this game. He tweets a lot, too.
Difference maker: Walter Offutt pairs in the backcourt with team maestro D.J. Cooper to create havoc with a steal% of 3. He also leads the team in free-throw rate.
Bandwagon: It’s not easy being green.
Run down: The Bobcats can get up and down the flooor and score, averaging better than 70 points/game. More importantly for this team is the defensive effort, 93.8 adj. efficiency allowed and a second-best in the nation 26.7 TO%. Another small interior team, Ohio has the defense to create problems as long as they don’t get eaten up inside.


Game 2

5 Temple Owls (24-7, 13-3, KenPom: 38)
Ticket punched when…reeled off ten straight conference wins as part of an eleven game winning streak from mid-January to mid-February to go with non-conference wins over Duke and Witchita St.
Time zones from campus: 1
Name to know: Ramone Moore was the only real threat to St. Bonaventure’s beast Andrew Nicholson for A10 player of the year. He’s the heart and soul of the Owls and their stats leader.
Difference maker: Khaliff Wyatt might just be TU’s most valuable player. Beloved by stat heads, Wyatt is efficient and takes advantages of mismatches created by Temple’s guard-heavy lineups.
Bandwagon: Plenty of seats available following the early loss in the A10 tournament to UMass.
Run down: The Owls run one of the country’s most efficient offenses (113.4 adj. efficiency) but can struggle against teams like UMass that can match Temple’s length on the wings and size in the backcourt. With center Michael Eric now providing an interior presence, the Owls could be a couple mid-seed threat to make a run.

12 South Florida (21-13, 12-6, KenPom: 53)
Ticket punched when…had the good fortune of drawing a Pac 12 team in the First Four and handled Cal in Dayton.
Time zones from campus: 1
Name to know: Nothing about this team is pretty offensively. If there is a threat, it’s Augustus Gilchrist at 6’10” inside doing the dirty work to earn points.
Difference maker: Anthony Collins and his 36.1 assist rate needs to find someone to score. Bottle him up, and an ugly offense really struggles.
Bandwagon: Nay-sayers point to early losses to Penn State, Old Dominion and Auburn. A good performance in the Big East has created some buzz. The Bulls have the added advantage that defenses rarely slumps.
Run down: This team, averaging under 60 possessions a game, can almost be timed with an hour glass. USF grinds opponents and uses their plus size and experience to stifle opponents. Plus, they have the magical 12-seed.


Michigan over Ohio: The Bobcats don’t have the interior physicality to disrupt the Wolverine shooters. Coach Beilein will have his team ready and moving on until someone can close down those shooters.

South Florida over Temple: The Bulls are the 12/5 upset this year. Book it. They treat their future conference mates rudely and Temple, who did well in a competitive-but-unspectacular A10, fall again in the first round. South Florida moves on to pose a serious threat to Michigan. This team may well have second weekend and this year’s VCU-First Four team who beat teams with a relentless defense-written all over them.