Kid Reporter Wilson von Bohlen offers analysis and predictions from the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee.
No. 4 seed Butler vs. No. 13 seed Winthrop
Milwaukee’s first game of the day was a fast-paced game of runs. Butler came out on top 76–64, as Winthrop ultimately couldn’t keep up. Both teams had three players in the double digits for points, with Butler led by Xavier Cooks (23 points) and Winthrop led by Avery Woodson (18 points). The biggest differences in the game were rebounding and bench points. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Eagles by 15. The Bulldogs’ physical depth was too much for the Eagles to handle in this race to the buzzer.
No. 5 seed Minnesota vs. No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State
Milwaukee’s second game was a thriller, with Middle Tennessee State commanding most of the game. The Blue Raiders pulled off the upset 81–72 in a game during which both teams’ scoring was very balanced, as four players on each squad scored in double digits and nobody had more than 19 points. Both teams shot well from the free throw line and the field. The difference-maker in this fast-paced battle was rebounding. The Blue Raiders out-rebounded the Golden Gophers by 13. Middle Tennessee State is back, and the Blue Raiders don’t know they’re the underdogs...or they don’t care!
The second-round matchup between No. 4 seed Butler and No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State will be a must-watch game for any basketball fan. Rebounding will be the most important stat, as both teams dominated the boards in their first game. I predict that Middle Tennessee State will win and move on to the Sweet 16.
No. 4 seed Purdue vs. No. 13 seed Vermont
The first game of session two in Milwaukee was a physical, interior battle that was a one-point contest at the half. Boilermakers Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas, and Vincent Edwards dominated the post battle as Purdue outscored Vermont 42–24 in the paint. However, Vermont refused to go away. Edwards led Purdue with 21 points, and Swanigan was not far behind with a double double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Purdue’s inside trio will cause problems for any opponent.
No. 5 seed Iowa State vs. No. 12 seed Nevada
The final game of the day was the loudest. Although neither of the teams was from Wisconsin, there was definitely a home team, as the Iowa State crowd was the rowdiest and largest of the day. The Cyclones controlled most of the game, but Nevada kept it within reach. Iowa State’s scoring was very balanced: The Cyclones had five players who scored in double digits, yet nobody had more than 19 points. For Nevada, Jordan Caroline and Cameron Oliver each had 20 points or more and Marcus Marshall was close behind with 16. This was an exciting, and loud, game to be at, as the Cyclones prevailed 84–73.
The second round matchup between No. 4 seed Purdue and No. 5 seed Iowa State will be an inside battle. If Purdue allows Iowa State to hang around, the Cyclones will win, backed by their enormous crowd. However, if the Boilermakers dominate the paint like they did against Vermont, they will also dominate the game. I predict the Cyclones will win a close one, late, backed by their fan base.
Photographs by (from top): Stacy Revere/Getty Images (MTSU); Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (Purdue)