Thoughts on Day 2 of the 1st Round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

March 16, 2018

by Alan Lu

Throughout this day, I was able to catch some basketball games, and there were some really riveting ones, as the Marshall-Wichita State contest went all the way down to the wire, and some impressive upsets were made as UMBC and Marshall were able to defeat Virginia and Wichita State to come away with victories.  On this day, I felt that Jon Elmore and Miles Bridges had the best games, and my thoughts on how Missouri’s 6-10 freshman forward, Michael Porter Jr. fared will be covered in the next article.

Jon Elmore played really well for Marshall.  He did a great job of knocking down shots from all over the floor, as he made deep threes to showcase his uncanny range, he scored on crafty drives to the hoop, he passed the ball well, and he also played solid defense as he showed a knack for getting steals.  He would intercept passes and roam to swipe balls away from opposing guards to help his on defense.  Though Elmore may not possess great physical tools, he is a smart, skilled basketball player that certainly knows how to play, and he is a point guard that could be a good find for an NBA team next season.

6-9 junior big man, Ajdin Penava also had a very good game for Marshall.  He is an athletic big man that excelled at finishing plays around the basket to get scores.  He would throw down dunks as he can make plays above the rim, and he can get scores on quick drives to the hoop.  He also passed the ball well, as he would make things difficult for his opponents to guard him.  He did foul out, but Penava had a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over Wichita State to get his team to get the next round.

The Nevada-Texas game was a really fun contest to watch as it went back and forth, and the Wolf Pack ended up getting a close win in overtime over the Longhorns.  Mohamed Bamba had been playing well, as he was finishing plays around the basket and was quite effective as a rebounder and shot blocker prior to fouling out late in regulation, and it was obvious that it would hurt Texas later on.

Matt Coleman did a very good job of knocking down pull-up jumpers and he also passed the ball well for Texas, and Kerwin Roach showed off versatile scoring skills.

Caleb Martin and Kendall Stephens did a great job of knocking down big three-point shots to space the floor for Nevada, and they also excelled at getting scores off the dribble.  Jordan Caroline came up big for the Wolf Pack, as he would take the ball right at Bamba, and he did a very good job of drawing free throws by making strong moves to the hoop.

In the Michigan State-Bucknell game, it actually started out being much closer than anticipated, and it had its chippy moments at times, but the Michigan State Spartans were able to run away with the victory in the end.

Michigan State’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Miles Bridges played very well as he lead his team to a win over Bucknell.  He did a great job of scoring the basketball as he was able to knock down threes, get scores off the dribble as well as in the post, and he also scored on hustle plays.  Bridges showed a good ability to move off the ball, as he also used a misdirection play by appearing to cut to the hoop before darting back to the corner to knock down a three-point shot late in the game.  He also managed to score on an emphatic tip dunk, and he showed a knack for getting solid scores when posting up.  Overall, Miles Bridges played very well as he scored 29 points in his team’s victory, and he looks to be a surefire lock to be a lottery pick this year.

Bucknell’s 6-7 senior forward, Zach Thomas played very well in his team’s loss to Michigan State, as he showed off solid scoring skills from all over the court.  He excelled as a shooter from beyond the arc, as he has a lot of range on his shot, he scored on patient, crafty drives to the hoop, and he also showed some post-up skills.  Thomas was able to score on a one-legged fadeaway off the dribble, and he also showed a knack for getting to the free throw line.

He did struggle defensively, as he is not super quick, and he had trouble defending more athletic players when he was on the floor.  Thomas ran into foul trouble as one of his fouls included giving up a three-point play when defending Bridges in the post, and Thomas ended up fouling out after arguing with the referees on a no call late in the game.  Overall, Zach Thomas had a solid showing as he scored 27 points in this game.  While he may not possess great physical tools, he is a smart, skilled player that could get a Portsmouth invite, and he could end up being a solid addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Bucknell’s 5-11 senior point guard, Stephen Brown shot the ball well in his team’s loss to Michigan State, and he made two deep pull-up threes from way beyond the arc to showcase great range, and he is a skilled sharpshooter that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

Michigan State’s 6-11 freshman big man, Jaren Jackson Jr. was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor against Bucknell, but his time on the court was rather limited due to being in foul trouble.  In this game, he excelled as an inside scorer and shot blocker, and he did a good job of scoring in the post and finishing plays around the basket.  Also, he was able to make a terrific swat off of an opponent’s drive to the hoop, and Jackson is a very athletic big man that has great length and timing to block shots.

Also, Jackson was quite passionate about his team’s strong play in the second half, and he did a very good job of rooting for his teammates in that stretch.  Jackson can finish plays in the paint as well as in the post, and he can be a dynamic scorer on offense when he can get his shots up.  On the other hand, he did not look for his shot nearly enough.  Still, he is a talented player that could go high in the lottery as teams are intriguing with his athleticism, skill level on offense, and shot blocking prowess.

Also, congratulations to the UMBC Retrievers in being the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  They played really well as they blew out Virginia by 20, and they were paced by the strong play of 6-2 senior guard, Jairus Lyles, as Lyles scored 28 points in his team’s win.  They will be facing Kansas State in the 2nd round, as the two teams will meet on Sunday.