NCAA Tournament: Potential Second-Round Storylines

    Everybody loves a good narrative. And since it's never too early to look ahead, here are some storylines that would be intriguing ahead of potential second-round NCAA Tournament matchups.

    March 14, 2017

    Everybody loves a good narrative. And since it’s never too early to look ahead, here are some storylines that would be intriguing ahead of potential second-round NCAA Tournament matchups.

    “But the first-round games haven’t even started yet!”

    How many of you thought/shouted that upon reading the headline? I understand if you did. Plenty needs to happen for any of the following to take place. But looking ahead is the fun part of the NCAA Tournament. After all, we fill out brackets predicting the national champion, don’t we?

    Even if your chances to win your office pool are busted after the first round, the games don’t lose any excitement. There’s a lot of potential for intriguing second-round storylines, and here are a five of my favorites, in no particular order.

    Potential NCAA Tournament Second-Round Storylines

    Mike Krzyzewski vs. Steve Wojciechowski

    Wojciechowski spent 20 years learning from Coach K. He starred at point guard for Duke from 1994-98 before joining the Blue Devils’ staff and serving as an assistant from 1999-2014, helping recruit the 2001 and 2010 national championship teams.

    But Wojciechowski finally decided it was time to run his own program and accepted the job at Marquette, which is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Wojciechowski in his third season. The No. 10 seed Golden Eagles take on No. 7 South Carolina in the first round, and if they can get past the Gamecocks, a familiar face will likely be waiting two days later.

    Krzyzewski’s second-seeded Blue Devils shouldn’t have much trouble in the first round against Troy, potentially setting up a battle between mentor and protege.

    Dana Altman vs. Creighton

    Prior to helping resurrect the Oregon program, Altman spent 16 seasons at Creighton in his home state of Nebraska, winning six Missouri Valley Conference tournaments and making the Bluejays one of the most recognized and dangerous mid-major teams.

    Altman almost left Omaha in 2007, accepting the Arkansas job before going back to Creighton the next day. At the time he said, “This is home. This is where I will finish my coaching career. That’s pretty obvious now.”

    Not as obvious as he – or Creighton fans – believed, seeing as he left to take over the Ducks in 2010. Altman now might have to face the Bluejays in the second round if No. 3 seed Oregon beats Iona and sixth-seeded Creighton survives against Rhode Island.

    Josh Jackson vs. Miles Bridges

    Not only are the two freshman standouts likely NBA Draft lottery picks should they both leave school, they’re also good friends from their days growing up in Michigan. Jackson and Bridges also had battles last year in high school when Jackson played for Prolific Prep and Bridges attended Huntington Prep.

    Michigan State recruited Jackson hard for years before he spurned Bridges – as well as Detroit native and Spartans freshman guard Cassius Winston – and chose Kansas. He’s having a stellar season for the Jayhawks, averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds, while Bridges won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.

    Jackson and Bridges will get to face each other on an even bigger stage if top-seeded Kansas wins as expected, and No. 9 Michigan State can knock off Miami.

    All-Texas Showdown

    Scott Drew took over Baylor for the 2003-04 season and turned a program reeling from the Dave Bliss/Carlton Dotson/Patrick Dennehy murder scandal the previous year into a perennial contender on the national level.

    SMU is in Dallas roughly 95 miles away from Waco, but it hasn’t played Baylor since the Mustangs beat the Bears in each of Drew’s first two seasons. SMU has seen a resurgence in recent years after Larry Brown took the job in 2012 and left it to current coach Tim Jankovich, who has the Mustangs heading into the NCAA Tournament at 30-4.

    The Texas schools could meet for the first time in 13 years if the No. 3 seed Bears beat New Mexico State and No. 6 seed SMU defeats the Providence-USC First Four winner.

    Louisville-Michigan National Title Game Rematch

    The Cardinals and Wolverines played an exciting national championship game four years ago, as Louisville overcame Trey Burke’s 24 points with help from Luke Hancock’s 22 and beat Michigan, 82-76 for its first national title since 1986.

    That’s the only time those teams have ever met in the NCAA Tournament, although that could change this year. Michigan coach John Beilein is heading one of the hottest teams in the country after it rolled to the Big Ten tournament title. All that after the Wolverines’ plane skidded off the runway as it was departing Ann Arbor for Washington, D.C., for their first game.

    Louisville is a trendy pick to get to the Final Four, but Rick Pitino’s second-seeded Cardinals will have trouble with No. 7 seed Michigan if the Wolverines can get past Oklahoma State.

    MORE: The (Tobacco) Road To The Final Four – Power Ranking The 2017 NCAA Tournament’s ACC Teams


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