Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday's Sweet Sixteen Previews

Florida vs. Butler (7:10 PM): Looking at this game on paper, one might see a complete mismatch in favor of Florida. However, Butler has exceeded expectations all season long, and is looking to pull off another big win. Additionally, the Gators have looked lackadaisical at times this March, and were down to Purdue much of the game. This game might be closer than you think. Florida, the defending champions, is balanced and complete. They have a terrific inside duo in Al Horford and Joakim Noah, and Corey Brewer is a great two-way player. Taurean Green is one of the better point guards around. Butler is not explosive, but they get the job done. A.J. Graves can really shoot the ball, and Mike Green is an underrated all-around point guard. Pete Campbell is a terrific shooter up front. The key for Butler is going to be their ability to stop the inside game of Florida. They don’t have the size or athleticism to match-up with Florida, but one could’ve said the same about their game with Maryland. Brandon Crone and Brian Ligon need to play big. Offensively, A.J. Graves need to knock down his shots. He’s been inconsistent at times, and needs to score. Florida has to take advantage of their athleticism and talent advantage. Al Horford should dominate the paint, and Corey Brewer should take care of the perimeter defense on one of the guards. If Florida doesn’t play complacent and to their potential, they should get the win due to their experience and balance. Prediction: Florida 67, Butler 56

Georgetown vs. Vanderbilt (7:27 PM): A rematch of an early-season game between these two clubs. That was won by Georgetown, in Vanderbilt, by sixteen. Of course, both teams are playing very differently than they were in November—they have both improved drastically. Georgetown is led by their outstanding frontcourt duo of Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, and Jonathan Wallace is an underrated point guard. Vanderbilt has a terrific wing duo in SEC Player of the Year Derrick Byars and shooter Shan Foster. Dan Cage is also an excellent three-point shooter. This game has some very interesting match-ups, none more so than Jeff Green vs. Derrick Byars. They were both their respective conference player of the years. Green has the height advantage, but Byars is quicker and might be able to take Green off the dribble. Byars will need to play good defense on Green, as he is the focal point of the Hoyas’ offense and can take over games, even without scoring. Green can’t let Byars get hot from long-range. Does Vanderbilt have the size to handle Roy Hibbert inside? Vandy starts four perimeter players, and Hibbert might be able to dominate. The key for the Hoyas will be to not allow the Commodores to get hot from outside. They can really kill teams with their three-point shooting. Georgetown is a physical half-court team, and I don’t think Vanderbilt has the size to match-up. Prediction: Georgetown 69, Vanderbilt 59

Oregon vs. UNLV (9:40 PM): Two of the hotter teams in the country match-up for the right to go to the Elite Eight. Oregon has looked very impressive over the past few weeks, and could be peaking at the right. Aaron Brooks is one of the best point guards in the country, and Bryce Taylor and Tajuan Porter can really shoot the three. Malik Hairston is a versatile forward. UNLV was vastly underseeded heading into the Tournament, and has proved it. They are quick on the perimeter, led by Kevin Kruger and Wink Adams. Wendell White is a tough 6-6 forward; he has been one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. This is going to be a terrific battle between two perimeter-oriented teams that love to shoot the three and push the ball offensively. The best match-up will be Aaron Brooks vs. Kevin Kruger. The UNLV perimeter players love to force turnovers, and Brooks has to take care of the ball and utilize his superior talent. Kruger can’t Brooks to penetrate into the lane all game, and will also need to knock down his perimeter shots. Another battle to watch is between Malik Hairston and Wendell White. Both are undersized power forwards. White has the edge inside, but Hairston is very athletic and multi-talented. If Oregon is to win, they need to make sure to get out on the UNLV perimeter shooters. The Runnin’ Rebels rode three-point shooting to wins over Wisconsin and Georgia Tech. On the other side, UNLV needs to force turnovers and shut down the Ducks’ long-range shooters. The difference will be Aaron Brooks—he is a clutch performer and will get the job done.
Prediction: Oregon 75, UNLV 69

North Carolina vs. USC (9:57 PM): This might be the game I’m looking forward to the most. Both teams have been impressive in the early rounds, with North Carolina overcoming struggles against Eastern Kentucky and Michigan State to pull away at the end, and USC blowing both Texas and Arkansas out in the first two rounds. UNC is one of the deepest and talented teams in the country, and star Tyler Hansbrough has regained his All-American form. Tywon Lawson is really developing at the point spot, and Wayne Ellington can knock down shots. USC has been underrated all year, but have terrific perimeter players, led by Nick Young. Gabe Pruitt and Lodrick Stewart are very good shooters, and Taj Gibson has been very good down low. In order for USC to win, they have to control the inside play of the Tar Heels. Taj Gibson can only guard either Tyler Hansbrough or Brandan Wright, leaving Nick Young in a mismatch, size-wise. Moreover, they have to control tempo, and not get into the up-and-down game that UNC wants. The Trojans can run, they can’t allow Tywon Lawson to have unabated drives to the basket in transition. Offensively, Nick Young has to be the star scorer he is, and the perimeter guys have to hit their threes. Taj Gibson needs to provide balance. For North Carolina to get the victory, they have to get out on the USC shooters. They have plenty of quality perimeter guys that can cause problems for UNC. Brandan Wright needs to regain his form—he has disappointed in the Dance. Moreover, they have to get the ball inside to take advantage of their size advantage. In the end, I think that the Tar Heels’ depth and size are going to be the difference. Prediction: North Carolina 73, USC 65

No comments:

Post a Comment