Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sweet 16 Preview

We're finally back to the NCAA Tournament! Which, of course, means more commercials, more Jim Nantz and Billy Packer, and oh yeah, more basketball. If you've been scoring at home (or even if you're alone), you know that I still have 7 of my 8 Elite 8 picks, so I have that going for me, which is nice. So we might see some of those same picks again.

Atlanta Region
Duke vs. LSU - I went with LSU in the beginning, and I'm sticking with it. They seem to me to match up well. They're athletic and big. Tasmin Mitchell seems like a good matchup for Redick, because he's athletic and has a 3-inch advantage. Inside, it'll be a battle of the big boys between "Big Baby" and Shelden Williams. Williams has struggled against similar players this (Killingsworth, Hansbrough), so this might favor Davis. In the end, I think Duke's role players, specifically DeMarcus Nelson and Lee Melchionni have to step up and hit shots. I don't see them making enough. LSU wins.

Texas vs. West Virginia - The Mountaineers are looking for a return trip to the Sweet 16, Texas is looking to cash in on all that talent. The teams met earlier this year, with Texas winning 76-75. Texas seems to be playing better, at least they did against NC State. West Virginia has played great basketball over the first 2 rounds. In the end, I think Texas' athleticism will make the result of this one similar to the first, Texas in a close one. But Daniel Gibson needs to produce.

Oakland Region
Memphis vs. Bradley - Bradley has absolutely played as well as any team so far in the Tourney, and they deserve to be here. That being said, I think Memphis is far too athletic, talented, and deep for Bradley to hang with them. You had a great run Bradley, but Memphis takes this one going away.

UCLA vs. Gonzaga - Very intriguing matchup, pitting an offensive powerhouse against a very good defensive team. Coming in, I wans't impressed with the Zags and I thought they'd be done in round 2, but they really did impress me against Indiana. Morrison was off his game but they still scored a lot, and Errol Knight showed a lot of defensive intensity. However, I think UCLA is tougher, better defensively, better on the glass, and they shoot a little too. UCLA in a tight one.

Washington Region
Connecticut vs. Washington - I really like this Washington team, but I don't think they have enough to get by Connecticut. Yes, UConn has struggled, but they're still the deepest and most talented team, and they have the best PG in the nation. Brandon Roy's a beast, but unless Dentmon has a big day I don't see the upset here. Connecticut wins.

Wichita St. vs. George Mason - Another rematch, as George Mason beat Wichita St 70-67 during BracketBusters. Both teams are obviously playing great basketball, and both have beat solid opponents. I like George Mason's balance, with 5 men in double figures, and how they picked up the slack and stepped up when Tony Skinn was out for the first game against Michigan St. This is basically a pick'em in my eyes, but I'd tend to lean toward George Mason.

Minneapolis Region
Villanova vs. Boston College - Basically everyone has been pointing to this potential matchup since the brackets were announced, and fortunately for basketball fans, things fell into place. A classic inside vs. outside battle. I think Smith & Dudley will get theirs for BC, and I think Foye & Ray will do their part for Villanova, which is why I think this one comes down to how Kyle Lowry and Mike Nardi perform compared to Louis Hinnant and Tyrese Rice. Hinnant has been playing great ball ever since the ACC Tournament, and Boston College is going to need more of the same in this game. However, I think Lowry will be able to outmatch Hinnant here. One other factor that could play a huge role is Sean Williams and his shot-blocking ability. If he is effective down low defensively against Nova's driving guards, that could turn this around. However, in this matchup of power vs. speed, I like speed, which is why Villanova is the pick.

Florida vs. Georgetown - Before the tourney I picked the Hoyas to the Elite 8, but I'm not so sure about that anymore. Florida is playing about as well as anyone. They have great inside-outside balance, athletes everywhere, and they play very good defense. For the Hoyas, Hibbert is playing exceptional ball right now, but Brandon Bowman has not been much of a contributor on the offensive end of the floor during the first two rounds. I'm changing my pre-backet pick (because I can do that), and going with Florida, who is just playing great basketball right now.

9 comments:

dolphinfan said...

I agree with all of your picks except for Duke. I think the Blue Devils advance.

Pradamaster said...

Memphis will not have nearly as easy of a time with Bradley as you think. If Bradley can control tempo (and that's a huge if), they have a distinct advantage in the halfcourt with Patrick O'Bryant on the inside. Joey Dorsey simply will not be able to guard him. The pressure defense of Memphis should not be anything new to Bradley, having already faced similar pressure defenses in Kansas and Pittsburgh. It honestly would not shock me to see the Braves win.

twins15 said...

My thoughts are more a reflection of Memphis than of Bradley. Bradley is playing great basketball, and if they can slow the game down and pound it down low to O'Bryant, it wouldn't shock me either if they won. However, I just don't see it happening. I think Memphis is just too good and athletic, more so than Pitt or even Kansas. I think Bradley can keep it close for a while, but I think eventually Memphis will wear them down.

twins15 said...

W00t 8 for 8!!

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