Daily Word: Wrapping up in Dayton
Every day, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
1. Tennessee closed its season by winning five of six. Iowa lost six of seven. How much will either trend carry over?
Andy Katz: Tennessee has shown a wee bit more consistency. And the Vols have the far superior inside game. Iowa has the ability but hasn't shown enough to trust it can flip a switch quickly.
Myron Medcalf: I don't think it will be a major factor. Tennessee and Iowa were both inconsistent this season. This game centers on Tennessee's tough defense against an Iowa team that's dangerous when its offense is rolling. But the Hawkeyes have some defensive issues (127th in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy) to figure out.
Dana O'Neil: I'm not sure either trend matters as much as Iowa's ability to score matters. If the Hawkeyes' offense can outrun the Vols' defense (no easy feat since Tennessee's D has been pretty good down the stretch), then I'm not sure the Volunteers have what it takes to hang with Iowa.
2. Mike Davis is back in the NCAA tournament. How much can his knowledge of how to win in March help Texas Southern?
Katz: Well, he has the best scorer in this game in Aaric Murray. Cal Poly was more of a fluke. Texas Southern and Mike Davis should win this game.
Medcalf: I think the Big Dance is a players' tourney in the early rounds (coaching matters more in subsequent rounds), so I don't think Davis' experience is a major edge. West Virginia transfer Aaric Murray (21.2 PPG) is Texas Southern's greatest advantage against Cal Poly.
O'Neil: Against Cal Poly, it can help. Against Wichita State, it can't. No doubt Davis' experience, coupled with the fact that he has a legit talent in journeyman Aaric Murray makes Texas Southern the more likely winner in this first-round game. After that, it's back to the reality of the SWAC.
3. Which team matches up better with Massachusetts if it can get out of Dayton? Iowa or Tennessee?
Katz: UMass would have more of an issue with the size and strength of Tennessee. If Iowa wins, then the Minutemen should be able to run on the Hawkeyes. Chaz Williams would be a tough matchup for Iowa.
Medcalf: UMass can run with the Hawkeyes. But Tennessee is a better fit because it can stall the Minutemen with its defense. And when they get out of rhythm, it's not pretty.
O'Neil: Iowa is more similar. The Hawkeyes, like the Minutemen, like to get up and down the court and rely heavily on their backcourt to win games. I think UMass would have a tough time with Tennessee's bigs, much tougher than with Iowa's.
The Latest Dish
Tennessee's tournament profile is an interesting one. The Volunteers went 9-4 in the nonconference portion of their schedule, a start that included a 35-point drubbing of No. 1 seed Virginia.
They proceeded to play their way onto the bubble by going 11-7 in the less-than-stellar SEC but closed the year by winning five of their last six games and narrowly falling to No. 1 overall seed Florida in the SEC semifinals.
Games To Watch
Mike Davis, the same coach who took Indiana to the 2002 national championship game as a No. 5 seed, has taken Texas Southern back to the dance for the first time since 2003. Aaric Murray, a West Virginia transfer, averages 21 points per game.
The Hawkeyes and Volunteers find their way in the First Four for opposite reasons. Iowa closed its season with a thud with just one win since Feb. 22. Tennessee won five straight before giving Florida all it could handle in the SEC semifinal.