Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's Sweet Sixteen Game Previews

Wisconsin vs. Davidson (7:10 PM): This should be a very intriguing game between one of the biggest surprises of the NCAA Tournament and one of the most consistent programs in the country. I’m sure you can figure out which team is which. Davidson was a trendy sleeper pick in the preseason, and proved why with its undefeated Southern Conference run and back-to-back comeback upset wins over Gonzaga and Georgetown. Stephen Curry is one of the best shooters and scorers in the country, and he has single-handedly lifted Davidson to wins. Jason Richards is the nation’s best assist man, but he can also score. William Lovedale has made an impact at both ends, while Thomas Sander is solid. Wisconsin continues to find ways to win every year, despite questionable personnel in the preseason. The Badgers are solid across the board, led by the backcourt of Trevon Hughes and Michael Flowers. Hughes is a quick and tough scorer, while Flowers is one of the better defenders in the country. Brian Butch is an inside-outside threat up front, and Marcus Landry is a tough match-up. Joe Krabbenhoft can do a little of everything. The key for both teams will be Stephen Curry. For Davidson, Curry needs to score at least 30 points, while Wisconsin needs to make sure it can slow down Curry. Flowers is an excellent defender and could be up to the task. Wisconsin has to set the tempo and standard early with its half-court, physical-style. Davidson might not have the frontcourt depth to bang with Wisconsin down low. Curry also won’t go for 30-35 points. Prediction: Wisconsin 67, Davidson 60

Texas vs. Stanford (7:27 PM): This should be an outstanding game, with a complete contrast in styles and personnel at the forefront of the match-up. Texas thrives when its guards are controlling the game and getting points, while Stanford is loaded up front and can physically overwhelm most opponents. Which will prevail and get to the Elite Eight? Texas had an excellent year despite the loss of Kevin Durant. The Longhorns won the Big 12 regular-season title on the back of D.J. Augustin, one of the best point guards in the country. A.J. Abrams is a very good three-point shooter, while Justin Mason makes an impact at both ends of the floor. Damion James has developed into one of the tougher match-ups in college basketball, and Connor Atchley is the ultimate role player. Stanford is led by Brook and Robin Lopez down low, one of the best post duos in the country. Brook is an All-America, while Robin is a premier defender. Lawrence Hill is capable of putting up big numbers. In the backcourt, Anthony Goods is the leading scorer, while Mitch Johnson is a solid lead guard. He had 16 assists in their second-round win over Marquette. The key in this game will obviously be the battle between Texas’ backcourt and Stanford’s frontcourt. Augustin is nearly unstoppable when he wants to get to the lane, but Stanford has one of the better defenses around. The Cardinal also can’t allow Abrams to get hot from outside. On the other end, can Texas slow down the Lopez twins offensively and also neutralize them defensively? If James and Atchley pull them away from the basket, it will open up driving lanes for the guards. In the end, I think that Stanford has the defensive ability to contain Augustin, but I don’t think Texas will be able to stop the Lopez boys. Prediction: Stanford 69, Texas 65

Kansas vs. Villanova (9:40 PM): Will the surprising Cinderella run by Villanova continue or will the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament clock strike midnight against one of the most complete teams in the country and a national title favorite? The Wildcats, seeded No. 12, might have been the last team in the NCAA Tournament, but they have made the most of it since getting here. They came from behind to beat Clemson in the first-round, then handled Siena easily in the second. They were knocked out by Kansas last year, so they will hope to avoid a repeat. Scottie Reynolds has been playing some of the best basketball in the country, while freshmen Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes are solid on the perimeter. Dante Cunningham is tough down low, and Shane Clark and Antonio Pena pose match-up problems. Kansas is one of the most talented teams in the country, and should reach San Antonio. The Jayhawks are led by their deep and talented backcourt. Brandon Rush is the shooter and scorer; Mario Chalmers is an outstanding two-way player; Russell Robinson is a lockdown defender and leader; and Sherron Collins might be the best of the bunch. Up front, Darrell Arthur has shown the ability to dominate, and Darnell Jackson is physical. Will Villanova be able to handle Kansas’ talent and ability down low? Cunningham will have to come up big for the Wildcats. Furthermore, Kansas has plenty of very good defenders on the perimeter; one of the Jayhawk guards will be able to force Reynolds into a tough shooting day. If that happens, Villanova will struggle. In the end, the Wildcats simply don’t have the balance or offensive firepower to knock off the region’s top seed. Prediction: Kansas 80, Villanova 68

Memphis vs. Michigan State (9:57 PM): Heading into the season, many might peg this as a potential Final Four showdown, or at least a match-up in the Elite Eight. In fact, this is the only Sweet Sixteen match-up that pits two of my preseason top-ten teams against each other (I had both in the Final Four in the preseason). There is certainly a lot of talent on both sides. Memphis was one of the best teams in the country all season long, losing just one game all year. The Tigers are loaded with talent and might be the deepest team in the country. Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts form an outstanding perimeter duo. Rose can do-it-all, while CDR is a very tough scorer. Antonio Anderson is the consummate leader and role player. Up front, Rober Dozier is a difficult player to match-up against, while Joey Dorsey is one of the best defenders and rebounders in the country – when he stays on the floor. He has a tendency to get into foul trouble. Michigan State is another deep, talented team that can beat you in a variety of ways. Drew Neitzel’s numbers are down from last season, but he is still a clutch shooter who can get hot. Raymar Morgan is a tough match-up at forward, while freshman point guard Kalin Lucas is going to be a star one day. Goran Suton does not get a lot of publicity, but he can hold his down on the glass and in the paint. There will be plenty of interesting personnel match-ups, including freshman point guards Rose and Lucas, and scoring machines Douglas-Roberts and Morgan. The key to this game will be the inside play; can Dorsey stay on the court for Memphis, and who will win the rebounding battle? Both teams have plenty of perimeter depth, but I’m not sure Michigan State has the offensive firepower and overall athleticism to beat the Tigers. Prediction: Memphis 73, Michigan State 66

No comments:

Post a Comment