Here’s today’s installment of “The Breakfast Buffet”, the morning column on everything that’s happened from the day/night before and everything that’s going to happen in the next 24 hours.
Things To Sample
Blake Hinson is a major key for Pitt against Mississippi State
The Panthers will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016 tonight when they face Mississippi State in the First Four (9:10 PM ET, truTV). A big key for Pitt’s chances to advance will depend on Hinson’s ability to go “over the top” of the Bulldogs’ defense. The 6-7 forward has been the key to Panthers’ season thanks to his ability to stretch the defense and create spacing on offense. That will be even more critical tonight against a team that packs the paint as well as Mississippi State. 16 of the Bulldogs’ 33 opponents have been held to 60 points or fewer. Hinson averages 15.6 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting an impressive 38.4 percent from three-point range.
Houston may have to play a road game in the Round 32
The Cougars may be the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, but they may have to play Auburn in Birmingham to get to the Sweet 16 if the Tigers beat Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That’s not an advantageous situation for a team that earned one of the top seeds in the bracket. It would be a major shock if Houston doesn’t get to the second weekend, but getting there may be more difficult than many anticipated prior to Selection Sunday.
San Diego State has to maximize its opportunity
This program was cheated. San Diego State was 30-2 prior to COVID’s cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament and looked like a bonafide contender to go a Final Four. We’ll never know if that storyline and others would have come to fruition. What we do know is that the Aztecs have a tough, but winnable first round game this week against CAA champ Charleston and then will play the winner of Virginia/Furman if it is fortunate to advance. For all of the games that this program has won over the last 20 years, it has only been to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament twice. San Diego State has not won an NCAA Tournament game under Brian Dutcher. There is a major opportunity to change that over the next few days.
On The Side
- Marquette is the highest seeded team that Shaka Smart has ever coached in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles are the No. 2 seed in the East Region and will play Vermont on Friday in the first round. Smart led VCU to a five seed twice in 2013 and 2014.
- Mississippi State’s Tolu Smith is averaging 24 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last three games. The 6-11 big man could emerge as a star tonight in the First Four in Dayton.
- One of the first things that came to my mind on Monday after Ole Miss hired Chris Beard? Starting in the 2024-25 season, the Rebels will be in the same conference as Texas — Beard’s former school — when the Longhorns join the SEC.
- Arizona State will play in the First Four for the third time this week under Bobby Hurley when it faces Nevada on Wednesday in Dayton. The Sun Devils are 1-1 in this portion of the NCAA Tournament and have previously made appearances in the First Four in 2018 and 2019.
- The transfer portal may expedite coaching searches moving forward. The sooner a vacancy is filled, the greater chance that program has to retain its roster.
- The Breakfast Buffet: UConn’s dominance, Andre Jackson, Florida Atlantic’s path is similar to Loyola Chicago in 2018
- The Breakfast Buffet: Things come full circle for Gonzaga and UConn, Kansas State, Rodney Terry
- The Breakfast Buffet: Markquis Nowell, UCLA will always be left wondering what could have been, FAU
- The Breakfast Buffet: Rick Barnes’ best chance to return to the Final Four, Adama Sanogo, Gonzaga/UCLA
- The Breakfast Buffet: Tobin Anderson, the Big East’s roster of head coaches is elite, Bobby Hurley