Friday, March 28, 2008
Sweet Sixteen Preview Part 2
(1) Kansas vs. (12) Villanova
KU was supposed to be in this situation, Nova was not. Still. the Wildcats and Jayhawks find themselves battling for a spot in the Elite 8. This is a match-up of contrasting styles with Villanova relying on great guard play and gritty defense while Kansas will look for fast paced, shoot-em-up game. This is also a meeting between two underachieving coaches. Bill Self has had hella talent in his 5 years as the coach of KU since taking over for Roy Williams, but has yet to reach a Final Four. It's not surprise that the 'Hawks are considered some of the biggest choke artists in all of college basketball. He's been to the Elite 8 four times in his coaching career with 3 different teams (Tulsa, Illinois, and Kansas), but those don't really add to your legacy that much. Jay Wright on the other hand has been at the helm of Nova for 6 years and has yet to get past the Elite 8. In fact, he's only been there once with a #1 seeded Wildcat squad in 2005-06 that lost to eventual champion Florida. Both these guys can recruit, but they have yet to put it all together. On the floor, it appears that KU has a significant talent edge, but they've had that edge numerous times in the past and have still managed to blow it. This time, I feel that Rock Chalk will be a little too strong on the perimeter for Nova. They are just too deep for a team that barely made the tourney field.
Prediction: KU 81-69
(3) Wisconsin vs. (10) Davidson
The big question in this matchup is, "Can the stifling Badgers defense badger Stephen Curry enough to shut him down". I believe the answer is yes...and I by yes, I mean he won't score over 25. Considering Curry's performances in his 3 career tournament games (averaging over 30 points a game) that would be a success. I was actually surprised that Wisconsin made it this far. I was blinded by flashy offenses that I thought would be able to put enough points on the board to get the W, but the Badgers came out and handled both of their opponents easily. Well, I'm done picking against them. They did win the Big 10 Regular Season Title and Conference Tournament and did it with relative ease. I think they've been playing well in a response of revenge to the Committee who gave them a shaft with a 3 seed. Brian Butch and Michael Flowers have been playing out of their minds on both ends of the floor and I see no reason for this success to stop. Don't get me wrong, this isn't going to be a blowout. Wisconsin rarely blows people out because they don't have as explosive of an offense as most of the other teams in left alive. I see the Wildcats sticking close with the Badgers until about 5 minutes left in the 2nd half when Travon Hughes goes on fire from behind the arc to help Wisconsin pull away.
Prediction: Wisconsin 59-50
(1) Memphis v. (5) Michigan State
I was wrong to pick Pittsburgh over Michigan State. I talked myself into picking the Panthers because of their hot streak and the fact that they were healthy and clicking on all cylinders. What I failed to consider was that Tom Izzo is the best Big Game coach in basketball right now. He's 25-9 in Tournament Games at Michigan State and you know his team is going to be able to stick with any team in March even if they are outmatched (see: UNC from last season). Drew Neitzel has really come into his own as the season has progressed and he's helped spread the floor for the offense who shares the ball better than any team in the country. Memphis proposes another talent mis-match for the Spartans with future NBA ballers Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. They are going to immediately set a quick tempo and try to throw MSU off-guard. If they can jump out to a big lead, then Spartyball will have a tough time catching up considering they just don't have the gunners and stunners that the Tigers do. Howevaaa, if this is a close game down the stretch like I believe it will be, Michigan State has a huge advantage at the Free Throw line. I know this has been beaten into the ground, but it's still an enormous factor in tight games. Izzo has an upper hand on Calipari in this situation and I see MSU upsetting Memphis tonight.
Prediction: Michigan State 77-75
(2) Texas vs. (3) Stanford
This is my favorite game of today and could be one of the most entertaining of the tournament. Both of these teams have experienced more drama than an episode of 24. The Longhorns edged Miami last round in a game that shouldn't have been close. Stanford meanwhile needed a last second Overtime Leaner from Brook Lopez to oust Marquette. I'm glad these two squads are rested and healthy because this could be a matchup for the ages. Texas is going to be gunning from all points of the arc and have many three point assassins that can run up the score. AJ Abrams was the hero last game, but numerous other snipers can step up at any time. The Cardinal will rely on their big papas inside. The Lopez twins have been thoroughly dominant down the stretch and many teams that thrive in the point have been stopped stone cold by the 7 Footers. Robin has always been dwarfed (figuratively) by his brother's shadow, but lately, he's almost on par. Neither coach is anything special. Rick Barnes is a great recruiter and has insanely talented teams, but has only been to 1 final four with the Longhorns in 10 years there. Last year's team with phenom Kevin Durant severly underperformed in the tourney and busted many brackets (including mine). This team is more balanced this year and shares the game much better thanks to the antics of super guard DJ Augustin. However, it's hard to trust Barnes in big game scenarios against good teams. Stanford's general Trent Johnson is still a newbie in the college coaching game. He's been with the Cardinal since 2004, but has yet to live up to expectations until this year. He got tossed last game against the Golden Eagles and it appears that he has trouble keeping his emotions in check. He's also one ugly son of a bitch. The key factor in this contest is that the game is being played in Houston. This gives Texas a considerable advantage. Even though Stanford has performed admirably on the road this season, I think it's going to be too tough in this environment for them to pull out a win. I see the Horns hookin' a victory in a very close one.
Prediction: Texas 82-79
Posted by Andrew Adamson at 12:51 PM