After the first round of the NCAA Tournament (or what the NCAA calls the second round), it’s time to continue the madness with a Sweet-16 trip on the line. Here are three teams who impressed during round one and three who look vulnerable.
1. Arizona: Arizona jumped out to a huge 20-point halftime lead and cruised to a convincing victory over Texas Southern. The Wildcats are among a handful of favorites to win the title if Kentucky does not cut down the nets. They proved why with their fantastic offensive performance, shooting 60% from the floor.
2. Kansas: Many viewed Kansas the most vulnerable two seed in this year’s bracket. But the Jayhawks proved a lot even without the services of Cliff Alexander. As Kansas waits for the NCAA to make a decision on his eligibility, and who are currently taking their time with that decision, they were strong on the offensive end and stingy defensively. The Jayhawks shot 54% from the floor while holding New Mexico State to just 36%. Kansas also controlled the boards and forced 11 turnovers.
3. Villanova: The one seed many have as slipping up first is Villanova. The Wildcats have an impressive record, but many view it as inflated due to a weak conference. However, in round one, they were the most impressive of the top seeds. They raced out to an 11-2 lead and never looked back, dominating both halves on their way to a 41-point victory. Villanova has a plethora of offensive weapons, an that was on display as they shot over 63% from the floor while holding Lafayette to just 38%. They are a complete team who can play with anyone.
1. Notre Dame: Notre Dame was predictably efficient offensively, shooting 57% from the field. But they allowed a subpar Northeastern squad to hang around and nearly pull off an upset. The Irish were outrebounded in this one 33-17. That spells trouble for Notre Dame with strong opponents looming.
2. North Carolina: The Tar Heels are one of the enigmas of the tournament field. They have as much talent as anyone in the country and are one of the bigger teams as well. The problem is, they often plus as less than the sum of their parts. They allowed Harvard to dominate the second half of their matchup and nearly fell victim to the upset bug. North Carolina is still alive, but there is cause for concern.
3. Wisconsin: Yes the Badgers won by double digits, but there is some concern here as they far from dominated the 16-seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The big surprise was how poor they were defensively, allowing Coastal Carolina to shoot 48% from the floor and 58% from beyond the arc. If Wisconsin is going to make a repeat Final Four run, they have to shore up that end of the floor.