Saturday, March 21, 2009

InClement Weather: Opening Round Reactions [Part I of II]

I don't like text limits. That being said, I'm using them today. All day. Seriously. No, seriously.

Saturday afternoon update: Villanova leads UCLA 44-31 at the half. Role reversal for both teams. Nova trailed 10 on Thursday night to American and UCLA led VCU (tear) by 10. Sometimes I wonder if Villanova is better off with Scottie Reynolds on the bench. I also wonder if everyone is better off without Jay Bilas commentating.

Meet the new "stockbroker" America.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Midwest Region

Louisville defeats Morehead State 74-54. The Cardinals allowed the pesky play-in-game winners to stick around in the 1st half; however, too much talent and too much athleticism won out.

Siena took down Ohio State 74-72 in double overtime. The debate continues: should you or should you not foul a team down 3 with under 10 seconds to go?

Arizona "upsets" Utah 84-71. If you're ever looking for a first-round upset, always target the most talented 12-seed from a major conference (see: Villanova last season).

Cleveland State throttled Wake Forest 84-69. Perhaps the best team out of the Horizon (seriously), this is the same team that won in the Carrier Dome earlier this year. Wake Forest hasn't been right for 2+ months, this shouldn't have been a major shock.

Dayton took out West Virginia 68-60. I'm now allowing any injury-excuses for the Mountaineers, Bob Huggins and this group straight-up underachieved in this region. Props to the Flyers.

Kansas beat North Dakota State. Ben Woodside was a lot of fun to watch. Kansas is NOT a lock to easily take out Dayton; yet, with every win they get more and more dangerous.

USC stormed past Boston College 72-55. Maybe a lot of the "experts" picked USC a year too early. Yet again, the (middle of the) ACC has no established tempo and has the game dictated by their opponent.

Michigan State hardly breezes past Robert Morris. The motivation of playing in Ford Field may not be enough; however, this Spartan team might just need to win by any means possible (despite how ugly it looks).

West Region

No offense to Charles Abouo, but it won't be so easy for A&M to suffocate Thabeet and Adrien on Saturday.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

dismantled Chattanooga 103-47. Jim Calhoun is a brilliant coach, but why has he missed 3 tournament games over his career?

Texas A&M defeated BYU (again) 79-66. 1) Why did this have to be a repeat matchup? 2) How often do teams lose when they make their first 10 shots?

Purdue held on against Northern Iowa 61-56. The Boilermakers are a popular sleeper pick, but will need a far better second half on Saturday to survive and advance.

Washington defeated Mississippi State 71-58. I think a few too many people overestimated the Bulldogs and underestimated the Huskies. Mistake!

Marquette outlasted Utah State 58-57. Their second win without James, the Golden Eagles aren't going to be able to keep up with the Tigers without a spectacular individual effort from Jerel McNeal.

Missouri outpaced Cornell 78-59. If the Tigers can start their games a little hotter from the field, this is the darkhorse of the region far too few are talking about.

Maryland beat California 84-71. Anyone who depended on a Mike Montgomery-coached team...sit down. Vasquez talks just as much as Devendorf, and I love it!

Memphis fought back to defeat CSU Northridge. Tyreke Evans is an uber-talented kid, but can he realistically lead a team to the Final Four?

A Preview Ahead...

UCONN matches up against Texas A&M. The Aggies may need to make their first 10 shots again to keep up with the Huskies. Calhoun should be back in action and the gameplan has to focus around limiting open shots for Josh Carter. If the Aggies want to pull the upset, attack Thabeet and hope for foul calls. Meanwhile, the Huskies need Jeff Adrien to establish himself early and wear down the A&M frontline.

Purdue and Washington could likely put up one of the most competitive matchups of the second round. Purdue started rock solid and then ended with a thud against Northern Iowa. That won't be acceptable today. Washington can win this game if they develop an inside-outside attack. The key to that is the play of PG Isaiah Thomas, who can't shoot 3-13 from the field again.

Maryland draws a wounded Memphis team who can't be underestimated, despite a very poor effort in the opening round. Tyreke Evans must limit fouls - on both sides of the ball - and involve his teammates early. For the Terps, Vasquez will have the be Superman - perhaps to the tune of a near triple-double - and play within his emotions. The Terps will need their role players to control weak side rebounds and hit open shots. Maryland needs an A+ effort to advance to the Sweet Sixteen; especially if Memphis doesn't return with their D game.

Tomorrow, Marquette and Missouri meet up. This was a highly entertaining OT game in 2003, the last time these two teams met up in the NCAA Tournament. Marquette has four guys who can carry the scoring load; however, they still aren't the same team without their senior PG James. Meanwhile, Missouri must value possessions by blending good shots and offensive rebounding. It's hard to outwork a team like Marquette. With such tremendous balance on offense for both teams, a star may need to rise above everyone else for either team to advance.

Enjoy today's action. We'll be back later with Part II.

No comments: