Preview of second-round matches in Denver
A preview of the NCAA Tournament second round games scheduled for Sunday night inside Ball Arena.
No. 6 Creighton (22-12) vs. No. 3 Baylor (23-10)
Time/TV: 5:10 p.m., TBS
Line bet/over-under: Baylor-1.5, 145.5
What Creighton wants to do: The Bluejays endured tense moments in the second half of their first-round game with NC State, largely due to their inability to hit from the outside (3 of 20 of 3). That needs to change if they are to keep pace with a Baylor offense that is among the best in the country.
Creighton has a distinct advantage in the paint with Ryan Kalkbrenner coming off a career-high 31 points and three blocks. But if the Jays guards don’t hit deep — guards Ryan Nemhard, Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman were 2 of 15 against NC State — Baylor can make it difficult for the 7-foot-1 tall man to get the ball where he is. can end.
Defensively, the goal is both simple and extremely difficult to accomplish: get Baylor’s talented guards away from the 3-point line and force the Bears to make hard shots on Kalkbrenner and Co. in the hallway.
What Baylor wants to do: The Bears backcourt can dissect even the best defenses with lead point guard Adam Flagler, a master at picking good spots to pick up the slack or defer to junior LJ Cryer or rookie Keyonte George.
Baylor had no trouble putting on a good showing against 14th-seeded UCSB in the first round, with Flagler a hyper-efficient 7 of 10 with 18 points, five assists and a single-digit assist. business. The next step is to get George (1 of 7 of 3) and Cryer (1 of 6) deep, so the Bears can expand a Creighton defense anchored by Kalkbrenner.
The big question for the Bears is whether their collection of big men can handle Kalkbrenner on defense while finishing on the other end. Deny him the ball and the pressure will fall on Creighton’s shooters.
TCU No. 6 (22-12) vs. Gonzaga No. 3 (29-5)
Time/TV: 7:40 p.m., TBS
Line bet/over-under: Gonzaga -4.5, 156.5
What TCU wants to do: The Horned Frogs’ formula for success couldn’t have been more evident in their win from behind over Arizona State. Take care of the ball (five turnovers), hold the glass (ASU only had six offensive rebounds), and let Mike Miles Jr. take over on the offensive end.
The junior guard fired TCU in a game he once led by double digits by attacking the defense, fouls (12 of 14 on free throws) and making good decisions with the ball. Now the challenge is to find a way to defend Gonzaga big man Drew Timme — a task made even more difficult by the departure of second-year Eddie Lampkin Jr. from the program.
If the Horned Frogs can find a way to force him into hard shots without sending double teams, they can limit the damage from Gonzaga’s range of outside shooters.
What Gonzaga wants to do: With the most effective offense in the country, the Zags strive to push the tempo and get as many shots as possible. And that doesn’t change one iota against horned frogs.
As the second half of the Zags’ first-round win over the Grand Canyon illustrates, it all starts with Timme. When the decorated senior does damage downstairs (15 of his 21 points came in the final 20 minutes on Friday), everything else opens up for Gonzaga and murderous junior winger Julian Strawther.
The Zags can’t be as sloppy with the ball as they were against Grand Canyon (12 turnovers), and Strawther needs to avoid the fouls that plagued him Friday night.
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