Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NIT Final Four Preview

Memphis vs. St. Joseph’s: In what should be the better of the two games tonight, both of these teams will try to show that their lack of success in the non-conference season was not a reason to leave them out of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers and the Hawks lost in the respective conference championship games, although Memphis lost by one to Louisville after Darius Washington missed two of three free throws with no time left, while St. Joe’s got beaten handily by George Washington. Memphis has hit their stride recently, winning 6 of their past 7. They are lead by Washington at the point and Rodney Carney on the wing. Both can take over a game, especially Washington. Whenever the Tigers need a basket, Washington always seems to get it. Anthony Rice and Jeremy Hunt are two solid wing scorers. Duane Erwin and Joey Dorsey are the best post options they have. St. Joseph’s has won 15 of their past 18, was 14-2 in the Atlantic 10. Pat Carroll is one of the best shooters in the country and can keep the Hawks in the game. Chet Stachitas and Dwayne Lee help Carroll out on the perimeter. Dwayne Jones is the main inside player in the paint. As far as match-ups go, I don’t think that the Hawks have the athletes to deal with Carney and Washington. Neither team has much of an inside game. If the Tigers can hit their threes, they can blow this game open, as they have in every NIT game thus far. Prediction: Memphis by 11

Maryland vs. South Carolina: Both teams are surprised to be here, but for different reasons. Maryland expected to be playing in the NCAA Tournament, while South Carolina is happy to keep playing any basketball after their weak finish to the season. In a stark contrast to the first game, each squad struggled down the stretch to ruin any chance of making the Big Dance. Maryland is going to be without their best player, John Gilchrist, as they have the entire Tournament. Nik Caner-Medley and Chris McCray are going to have to step up in place of their leader. Both can score in bunches and carry the Terps. Ekene Ibekwe and Travis Garrison are both solid inside scorers that provide balance for Maryland. South Carolina revolves around Carlos Powell, their lone double figure scorer. He can be a dominate post player. Tre Kelley, Tarence Kinsey, and Josh Gonner are all athletic, decent scorers in the backcourt. The outcome will depend on how Maryland can stop Powell. I think that they will, given their extreme depth in the paint. South Carolina does not have anyone that can match-up on the wing with Caner-Medley, who can have a big game if he breaks out of his slump. The Terrapins depth and scoring ability will be too much for the Gamecocks. Prediction: Maryland by 7

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