Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Minneapolis Region First-Round Previews


Villanova vs. Monmouth- Congrats to Monmouth for destroying Hampton in the play-in game. Too bad they won a chance to face a Villanova team coming off of a bad loss to Pittsburgh in the Big East Tournament. Watch to see if Allan Ray is productive after coming off of an eye injury.

Arizona vs. Wisconsin- Two teams that underachieved throughout the season, and come into the Tournament headed in the wrong direction. With Hassan Adams back from DUI suspension, they have someone to match-up with Alando Tucker. That should be an excellent head-to-head battle. The difference will be the play of the guards. Who will get the better of the other: Kammron Taylor or Mustafa Shakur? That will determine the winner.

Nevada vs. Montana- I don't see how Montana received a #12 seed, but that has nothing to do with the outcome of the game. The Grizzlies have a nice inside-outside combo in Kevin Criswell and Andrew Strait, while Nevada--who also didn't deserve their seed--counters with All-American Nick Fazekas and wing Marcellus Kemp. Fazekas dominated the second half and overtime of the WAC title game, and has the potential to do the same this game.

Boston College vs. Pacific- A tough break for Boston College, getting shipped out to Salt Lake City to be in a pod with three West Coast teams. However, with the way they are playing, it might not matter. Pacific pulled off one win last season in the NCAA Tournament, and, led by Christian Maraker, they will try to knock off the Eagles. However, Craig Smith and Jared Dudley are too tough for the Tigers, while the perimeter players for BC are playing some of their best basketball.

Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee- Could the Panthers pull off another upset in this year's Tournament? Last year, they made a run to the Sweet 16 and use the same type of pressure defense that got them there last season. Oklahoma has a lot of talent in their lineup, but have been very inconsistent this season. Moreover, they don't have excellent ball-handlers and tend to turn the ball over a lot. That doesn't bode well when facing an athletic press. The Sooners have the edge on the interior, though.

Florida vs. South Alabama- This game is going to be a high-scoring affair between two teams that like to force turnovers and play at an up-tempo pace. The Jaguars looked very impressive in the Sun Belt Conference title game against Western Kentucky, while Florida struggled against South Carolina in the SEC championship game. If USA can force Taurean Green into several turnovers early, they might get momentum and pull the upset. However, they are going to have to find an answer for Florida's talented frontcourt.

Georgetown vs. Northern Iowa- Unlike the game above, don't expect a lot of points in this one. Both teams are more adept at playing in the half-court. Moreover, both teams are balanced and can score from every position on the court. The Panthers struggled down the stretch, while the Hoyas have won four of their last five. They have not scored more than 70 points in a game since late January, while NIU last did it in early February. Expect a 65-60 game in favor of whoever is hitting their perimeter shots.

Ohio State vs. Davidson- The Buckeyes had an outside shot at a #1 seed going into Championship Week, but they lost the Big Ten title game and Memphis won their conference tournament. They would have avoided a tough game with Davidson had they received that top seed. The Wildcats are well-coached by Bob McKillop and don't make many mistakes. If Ohio State is not hitting their three-pointers, Davidson has a chance to pull the upset.

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