Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet 16 Preview for Thursday Night's Games

After a wild weekend last week in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, expect to see a lot more madness in the days ahead. Upsets are much more likely now with the number one seeds matched up against stiffer competition. Here is my low down on the weekend:

UCONN vs. Purdue: The Purdue Boilermakers led throughout their game against Washington last week, but only shot 39 percent from the floor in the game. They are going to have to do better than that in order to stop A.J. Price and Jeff Adrian. Both players scored in the 20's last week against Texas A & M, and the Huskies don't seem to be missing a beat right now. Expect that to continue. PICK: UCONN 89, PURDUE 76.

Missouri vs. Memphis: If there is one team that could pose a threat to any number one seed in this tournament it is Memphis. Against a good Maryland team, the Wild Cats shot 58 percent from the field and 53 percent from three point range. They also had five players in double figures for points. That is a lethal combination considering that the Wild Cats have the number one defense in the nation, allowing only 59 points per game. It will be interesting to see how a Missouri team that can score points handles this defense. PICK: MEMPHIS 77, MISOURI 69.

Pittsburgh vs. Xavier: The Panthers have not played well at all in the tournament. They allowed East Tennessee State to hang around all day long, and were even emotionally outmatched by Oklahoma State. Still, the Pitt Panthers found a way to win those games, and a lot of that credit goes to Sean Young, who had 32 points against Oklahoma State and DeJaun Blair, who had 27 points against East Tennessee State and has 28 rebounds in this tournament.

Both players will have to be at the top of their game in order to beat a very good Xavier team. Xavier doesn't score a lot, their leading scorer, B.J. Raymond only averages 14.1 points per game, but the Musketeers know how to play defense. They have allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points in a game only eight times this season. PICK: PITTSBURGH 75, XAVIER 72.

Villanova vs. Duke: The Villanova Wild Cats may just be the hottest team in the tournament, then again it could be the fact that they spent the first and second round playing games at home. Last week the Wild Cats blew away the UCLA Bruins collecting 39 rebounds as a team and having six guys in double figures.
The Wild Cats are a very physical team, and that could pose a problem for the smaller Duke Blue Devils. One criterion in the Blue Devils favor is the fact that they have won five in a row, including the ACC Championship game; however, all six Blue Devil loses are to teams that are or were in this tournament. Plus, Duke has not seen any one team from the Big East this year; they are in for a rude awakening. PICK: VILLANOVA 88, DUKE 80.

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