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NCAA Tournament Day 3 blog: March Madness in full swing

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 10:02 a.m. MDT

Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) shoots over Virginia Commonwealth guard Rob Brandenberg (11) during the first half of their third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich., Saturday March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, AP) Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) shoots over Virginia Commonwealth guard Rob Brandenberg (11) during the first half of their third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich., Saturday March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, AP)

Matt (4:31 p.m.) — Sorry for some of my previous posts disappearing, readers. Technical issues. I'm sure Harvard can relate right now.

Impressed with how Arizona planned their start to this game. Didn't give Harvard a chance to get any flow, confidence, anything. Incredibly important against a team defying the odds with nothing to lose.

To briefly recap some of my lost entries from earlier today, Michigan looks way better than a No. 4 seed right now. Assuming Kansas advances, that game should be a better clash than the seedings would indicate. That and Mitch McGary, a 21-year-old freshman, is trending. Great day for the Wolverines.

Great day for the state of Michigan in general. If/when the Spartans are eliminated, they'll leave some bruises on the last team they play. On a side note, the flagrant foul calls need to be toned down. If Nix doesn't commit a foul that hard on 6-foot-9, 262-pound Tarik Black, it's an and-one. Don't over-punish a kid for actually preventing the basket.

Speaking of the Tigers, it's too bad D.J. Stephens isn't four inches taller. He's the new Paul McPherson: freak athlete that's just too short for the pros.

Landon (3:41 p.m.) — Home teams have really enjoyed an advantage in this year's tournament. Michigan and Michigan State made easy work of their third round opponents. I'm looking to see if the trend holds tonight with the other teams, namely, California.

Home court advantage was one aspect of the madness I completely neglected when I filled out my bracket, but looking back now, Cal's win, Michigan and Michigan State's wins and a few others have made me look sort of ridiculous. But then again, everyone looks sort of ridiculous with this year's tournament.

I'm changing my dark horse pick to Gonzaga. I'm sure you're thinking, "How can you dark horse a no. 1 seed?" Well, I really give no credit at all to the West Coast Conference, and I have the Zags going down in the Sweet 16 in my bracket. But the feel of this tournament, not to mention all the upsets, definitely favors Gonzaga going forward.

On a side note, my wife is really happy Michigan State won. She has them taking it all.

Matt (12:32 p.m.) — Whether it's Kansas or North Carolina (picked Kansas), whoever advances is going to have their hands full with Michigan. McGary is a beast inside and their guards are on an extended heat check.

Speaking of guards, playmaker fans need to tune into the next game (Memphis-Michigan State). Keith Appling and Joe Jackson usually determine the outcome for their respective teams, and that's going to be magnified when they go head-to-head.

Don't forget, they've got history between them on the Team USA U-19 squad.

And just to remind everyone of how their bracket looks, how about a strikethrough goodbye to Virginia Commonwealth?

Memphis has lost once in its last 26 games. The best teams they've played in those games? Saint Mary's (last round) and...Harvard?

The Spartans (obviously) played much tougher competition, losing to Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan. They beat OSU and Michigan earlier in the year, and also logged wins against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kansas.

Have to think battle-hardened MSU takes this one. Then again, I thought battle-hardened and physically imposing Wisconsin would beat Ole Miss for the same reasons.

12:02 p.m. — Hardaway Jr. definitely got that cross-over jumper from his dad. He absolutely did not get the reverse, two-handed windmill jam from his dad. Wolverine guards have taken over, simply picking VCU apart with drive-and-kicks, dribble penetration.

Looking ahead on the bracket, seems a shame Michigan playing at this level (likely) has to play Kansas. Biggest question is, how much game-to-game carry-over will there really be with the 4-to-6-day gap between the Round of 32 and Sweet 16? If your answer is "a significant amount," then tomorrow's Jayhawks-Tar Heels game becomes even more important for KU to shake off their lackluster win over Western Kentucky.

11:42 a.m. — This year's trending and soon-to-be overhyped big man? Mitch McGary. Have to admit, you don't see many guys who, when they're fouled, are so strong the guy committing the foul bounces off him. 15 points, 10 rebounds. Shouldn't be a shocker. Any guy who can grab nearly six boards a game in just 17 minutes of playing time has a gift for the glass.

Now I just found out McGary's only a freshman. What?! Get ready to hear his name a lot, and not just immediately after this game.

A shame VCU isn't doing their work early on him, otherwise they might be back in this game. Rams started the half really well. If McGary can turn this Tournament into a coming-out party, Wolverines are a lot better than a No. 4 seed.

11:31 a.m. — Looking ahead, it's hard to pick the one underdog I'm interested in seeing the most. Harvard? La Salle? Florida Gulf Coast? It's the underdog-lover's dream.

Second time now Michigan-VCU game has had clock issues. First time saw VCU's efficiency drop off immediately after. Two Michigan turnovers and one Rams 3-pointer later, another clock issue. Sure enough, VCU turns it over on the next possession. Make up for it though with another steal and a fastbreak.

Wolverines handled Rams' pressure pretty well in first half, three turnovers in less than two minutes now? We've already seen huge leads blown in this tournament (see: La Salle, Davidson). Wolverines could be next.

11: 15 a.m. — The highlight of the first half? A pick. Not kidding. Mitch McGary set a screen at the top of the key that was A) perfectly legal and B) nearly lethal to the poor Briante Weber, who ran into him. Had the same effect on the crowd a big hit in football or hockey has.

That and he's got nine rebounds at the half.

VCU won't have a chance if three of their starters remain scoreless. Weber (six points) was nice off the bench, but now he's going to be looking over his shoulder the rest of the game. Troy Daniels (0-for-6 FG, zero points) is the most glaring hole right now.

On a sidenote, Charles Barkley's vocal fitness is the same as his physical fitness: limited. Every time he does March Madness or a ton of NBA playoff games in a row, his voice is gone. Possibly the worst-case scenario for a dude and fan base who loves to hear him(self) talk.

11:00 a.m. I hope both coaches are reviewing fast break basics during this timeout. Michigan has blown three transition gimmes.

Those aren't as bad as VCU's guards simply ignoring everyone else on their own fast breaks. Guaranteed, no better way to cause in-game friction than forcing up a bad shot in transition while two guys busted their butts to run the floor (I'm looking at you, Darius Theus).

Consequently, shooting has dropped off a lot. Just as I write that, Hardaway Jr. nails a pull-up three that had his dad sporting the that's-my-boy look. Michigan slowly pulling away. Both teams playing fast, Wolverines just doing it better.

10:48 a.m. Some beautiful offensive plays for both sides. Trey Burke and Treveon Graham swap mid-range jumpers, a game-changing skill when you're trying to break down all these different defensive sets.

Have to admit, love Michigan's swagger, particularly from the backcourt. Burke and Hardaway are guys you'd battle for or want battling for you. And no, I don't have a deal/affiliation with Jalen Rose.

10:34 a.m. Can we just bill Michigan-VCU as the NBA Kids Game? It's not just the obvious Michigan duo (Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III). Half the players who have played have names to make them sound like watered-down versions of former pros. Melvin Johnson. Darius Theus. Juvonte Reddic.

On a serious note, watch for which team executes in the half-court better in this game. Whoever advances won't be able to stay in fifth gear like they're doing right now. In other words, will VCU's dribble-handoff-screen-to-death offense be enough?

10:20 a.m. — If I'm a D-1 nobody school that isn't in the Tournament this year, this is a banner year for me, especially if I'm in a conference with an automatic bid. 2013 has violently confirmed that anybody (including nobodies) can win. All you need is a shot, even if it's a play-in game (La Salle, anyone?).

As if to hammer home the point, CBS just showed a graphic of the Atlantic 10 schools still alive. Five of them. If bracket-fillers picked those five, congrats for completely ignoring conference reputations.

As for the just-underway Michigan-VCU game, already loving the tempo and level of play. Refreshing after the Wisconsin and Illinois abominations we had to witness yesterday. Both these teams love to push tempo. Two out of three parties win: one of the teams and the fans watching.

Matt Petersen is the Sports Web Editor. Landon Hemsley is the Sports Content Manager. You can follow them on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen and @EarlofHemsley

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