Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Sweet 16 Thread: Day 1

Today marks the first day of the Sweet 16 round, with the Atlanta and Oakland brackets hitting the hardwood. The first thought that jumps into my head is how much I miss the days when the brackets were named by region. Things seemed so much simpler in the days of the 'East' and 'West'. With that being said, here are a few more thoughts on today's games:

• LSU has not been spectacular through two rounds, but has enough talent to give Duke a run for their money. Shelden Williams had a big game in Round 2, which should comfort people who were worried about someone besides J.J. Redick being able to carry the offensive load. On the other hand, matched up against standout Freshman Tyrus Thomas, Williams will probably be less of a factor tonight than he was against G-Dub. If LSU is going to win this one, they need Big Baby Davis to step up his game. The SEC Player of the Year has not stood out through 2 rounds; another average game won't be good enough against the Blue Devils.

• My advice on how to knock off Duke: don't give Redick any space beyond the arc. Make him drive to the hoop and initiate contact. He might pile up the points, and draw a number of fouls early, but he's a small body, and will likely wear down as the game goes on. A tired, ineffective Redick gives LSU their best chance to win.

• The Texas-WVU matchup should be a good one too. The #2 seed Longhorns are long on talent, led by future lottery picks PJ Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge. On the other hand, the Mountaineers have senior leadership and talent, and made the Elite Eight last year. Texas won their regular season matchup by 1 point, so there's no reason to think this one couldn't go either way. Both teams have looked really good in the tournament too so far, so I'm calling this one a toss-up. I have Texas moving on in my bracket, but a WVU win would not surprise me at all. It wouldn't be too dissapointing either, as I don't think anyone's ready for the Kevin Pittsnogle era to end.

• Memphis has the path of least resistance to the Elite Eight, taking on 13th-seeded Bradley. The Braves are gamers, but the Tigers are head and shoulders above them in talent. Bradley could hang with them for most of the game, but I don't see any reason why Memphis won't be comfortably ahead in the final minutes. Look for a 7-10 point spread, minimum.

• Gonzaga-UCLA is going to be one to watch. The 'Zags struggled in Round 1, eking out a win over Xavier largely on the heroics of Adam Morrison. Conversely, they beat Indiana in Round 2 despite a subpar game for their star player. So which Morrison shows up for the Sweet 16? Also, which UCLA Bruins squad shows up, the one that annihilated Belmont or the one that was lucky to squeak out a win over Alabama? I'm rooting for Gonzaga to win, not just because I like them, but I also need them to move on to have any hope of winning my pool. As for the actual result, I think if the Zags get 25 for Morrison, and double digits from 2 other guys, they're in good shape. If UCLA's defense stifles them, it could get ugly in a hurry.

Final note, props to ESPN for their March Madness page.

If you're an Insider who entered their pool, your Final Four picks show up alongside those of their experts. Seeing my name next to Dick Vitale's was pretty awesome.

That's it from me. I'm away at a conference for the next couple of days, so I'm probably out of commission until the weekend. Enjoy the games everyone!


At 11:35 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Slam Jam Baby! Take it to the hoop, baby!

You know, Vitale would be a great guy to dress up as on Halloween.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger sacamano said...

Bwa Ha! As predicted months ago, JJR and AM are just a product of a smoke and mirrors system.


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