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Previewing the Butler/Purdue and Michigan State/Syracuse Second Round Games

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We’re onto the Round of 32 and the scheduling gets weird here. You have two games pretty much stand on their own to start us off and then from 5-8:00 it’s multi-screen time and keeping up with numerous games at once. So with that in mind I’ll be changing up how I do the previews. I’ll do the first one standing alone and then break it up to either 2 or 4 games at a time. 

No. 2 Purdue vs No. 10 Butler – 12:10 pm, CBS
Line: Purdue -3.5

We have a pretty weird situation on our hands. Following Purdue’s win on Friday, the school announced that Isaac Haas will be out for the rest of the tournament with a fractured elbow. However, yesterday it was reported that he was going through some drills at practice and if the NCAA cleared his brace, he’d try to play. I have no idea how the hell you play with a fractured elbow, but if there’s one guy to do it it’s Isaac Haas. This is a rematch from earlier in this year at the Crossroads Classic, where Purdue beat Butler 82-67. In that game, Purdue was incredibly balanced with all five starters in double figures while limiting Kamar Baldwin to 5-for-19 from the field. Whether Haas plays or not, expect Butler to run a ton of ball screens. That’s sort of what LaVall Jordan prefers to do, especially if there’s a mismatch. In this case he can’t really bring up Kelan Martin, especially with Vincent Edwards on him, so he’ll likely bring up Wideman for the high ball screen while Martin gets in some false motion on the side. The one thing to remember with Haas out is it actually lets Purdue run its best defensive lineup with Haarms on the floor. However, offensively Purdue should take a step back. What made Purdue so damn good offensively was dumping the ball to Haas in the post and then forcing teams to decide whether to play 1v1 or double. If a team doubled, Haas would make the kick out pass and Purdue attacked where the rotations lacked. It was beautiful, which typically led for open threes. One other thing to remember is history is stacked against at least 1 two seed today. 20 of the last 21 years we’ve seen a 2 seed lose in the first weekend.
Bracket pick: Purdue
ATS pick: Butler

No. 3 Michigan State vs No. 11 Syracuse – 2:40 pm, CBS
Line: Michigan State -9.5

Two big questions in this game. First, can Syracuse find a way to score against Michigan State’s defense? Second, can Michigan State hit outside shots against the 2-3 zone? Let’s start with the Syracuse offense vs Michigan State’s defense. Syracuse is one of the slowest teams in the country, ranking 341st nationally in average offensive possession. They also are 323rd in the country in effective field goal percentage. Michigan State is first nationally in effective field goal percentage. They use their length to bother teams, running Bridges at the three, with Jaren Jackson and Nick Ward inside. Syracuse is going to need Marek Dolezaj to hit 12 footers to at least bring one of the bigs away. Oshae Brissett is going to have to hit outside shots today. If that doesn’t happen, Syracuse will struggle to score. Howard/Battle are great, but trying to break down the Michigan State defense and then score over that trio isn’t necessarily going to work with a congested lane. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State needs to attack the 2-3 zone and not be stagnant on the wings. Look for Jackson to flash high post while Bridges attacks the gap from the wing.
Bracket pick: Michigan State
ATS pick: Michigan State

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