Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday's Sweet Sixteen Game Previews

Connecticut vs. Purdue (7:07 PM): Expect a very physical game between two teams that play outstanding defense and don’t mind getting into a battle down low. Both teams would rather play a halfcourt game but have the athletes to get out in transition if necessary. One of the questions heading into this game is how will the off-court story of Connecticut’s potentially illegal recruitment of Nate Miles will affect the Huskies. Other than that, the key match-ups center on Purdue’s lack of size. Can JaJuan Johnson defend Hasheem Thabeet? Is Robbie Hummel physical enough for Jeff Adrien? Who’s going to guard the 6-9 Stanley Robinson? In order for Purdue to win, the Boilermakers are going to have to get Thabeet in foul trouble and then shut down A.J. Price on the perimeter with Chris Kramer. Prediction: Connecticut 70, Purdue 59

Pittsburgh vs. Xavier (7:27 PM):
In my opinion, this is going to have the biggest margin of victory of any of the Sweet Sixteen contests. To beat Pittsburgh, a team needs to be able to spread the floor and hit threes on a consistent basis. Furthermore, it has to be able to rebound the ball extremely well and keep the Panthers off of the offensive glass. Xavier simply does not have the personnel necessary to beat Pittsburgh. The Musketeers don’t have enough perimeter shooters, and they don’t have the requisite size down low to hang with DeJuan Blair and the rest of the physical Panthers. Furthermore, they lack a go-to-guy and have received inconsistent production at the point guard position. And who's going to guard Sam Young? The questions go on and on. This is not the recipe for defeating Pittsburgh. Prediction: Pittsburgh 74, Xavier 60

Memphis vs. Missouri (9:37 PM): Expect an outstanding game with a deep collection of athletes and players who can run the floor and finish at the basket. However, if you think it is going to be a game in the 80s or 90s, I think you are going to be disappointed. Anyway, the key to this game will be Memphis’ ability to handle Missouri’s pressure, as well as how effective Missouri can be scoring the ball in a half-court situation. If Missouri can’t score, it can’t set up its pressure defense. On the other side, Tyreke Evans is still a freshman and could be intimidated by Missouri’s non-stop full-court pressure. I think the difference in this game will be DeMarre Carroll. He is a phenomenal player at both ends of the floor who can really pose problems for Memphis’ defense. He and Leo Lyons are going to force Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart away from the basket, which is not where they are most comfortable. Also, an interesting thing to note is Mike Anderson was the last coach to beat Memphis in Conference-USA -- when he was at UAB. Prediction: Missouri 72, Memphis 70

Duke vs. Villanova (9:57 PM): I’m really looking forward to this game. Both teams have plenty of perimeter shooters who can knock down the three with consistency and effectiveness. Furthermore, each team also features a few match-up problems across the lineup. Villanova rolled through UCLA and has a lot of momentum heading into this game; of course, the Wildcats won’t be in Philadelphia anymore. If they are going to continue their winning ways, they are going to have to find a way to defend Gerald Henderson. Henderson has been playing like an All-American lately, and Villanova might not have an answer for him. On the other side, Duke is going to have to play better defense. Villanova has the ability to get hot from outside and really run up the score. Kyle Singler will have to slow down Dante Cunningham down low; Cunningham is physical and can get baskets in a variety of ways. Down the stretch, the difference is going to be Duke’s three-headed attack of Jon Scheyer, Henderson and Singler – Villanova will struggle to match-up. Prediction: Duke 79, Villanova 75


  1. Umm, not to be a jerk about it or anything, but did you do any actualy research? The Pitt/Xavier one is a bit confusing. Xavier hits like 40% of their threes and has three starters taller than Pitt's tallest, but you said they "don't have enough perimeter shooters and they don't have the requisite size down low..." Plus, the "who's going to guard Sam Young?" question's answer is a 6'5" defensive specialist. Please make the appropriate corrections.

  2. Don't question the guru until the game is over, jerk.

  3. I don't think Xavier has the ability to spread Pittsburgh out like Oklahoma State did...and I certainly don't think they have the size to bang down low with Blair.

    What three starters are taller than Pitt's tallest? Blair is 6-7 and Biggs is 6-8. Xavier counters with a skinny 6-8 Brown and 6-9 Jason Love. Who else is taller? Unless Biggs shrunk, I don't think B.J. Raymond is taller than him.

    As for the shooters, Raymond is a great shooter, but who else in the starting lineup is going to stretch the D? Brown is good for a shot or two per game, but Anderson, Holloway and Jackson aren't very good from beyond the arc. Redford is, but he only plays about 12 mins per game.

    And I still don't think anyone is going to be able to guard Sam Young.

    So yes I did do my research...and I won't be making any corrections because I don't think there are any to be made.

  4. Alright, so...let's go through the points you claim I would be wrong on:

    Three-point shooting: Xavier shot 5 of 23, good enough for 21.7%.

    Size down low: Pittsburgh outrebounded Xavier, both offensively and defensively.

    No one to bang with Blair: He had 10 points and 17 rebounds.

    No one to guard Young: He had 19 points.