Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sweet Sixteen: Questions without Answers...yet (Part IV)

Extending to a final (extra day) in which I took a detailed look at each of the four regionals for this weekend's upcoming NCAA Tournament action.

You might hear more from me - or Pay - otherwise; however, I'm going to ride my tournament momentum and address a few issues on the upcoming weekend of regional semi-finals and finals.

Midwest = Mid-day Monday
West = Late Monday

East = Early Tuesday
South = Early Wednesday (aka BELOW)

Darryl Bryant, now out for the remainder of the season after suffering a broken foot, and the Mountaineers got their due yesterday. Added pressure to Joe Mazzulla now, of course.

South Region:

#1 Duke vs. #4 Purdue

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Duke QUESTION: Coach K won't let this team underestimate Purdue's talent. Question is, is Duke capable of winning a tightly contested game in this tournament? Fortunately, due to the sad state of their region, the Dookies may not need to have a close game for another weekend. (Sigh)

Duke X-FACTOR: Two early (chippy) fouls on Jorge Guitierrez hurt Cal as Scheyer became more relaxed and comfortable. One of the best in the country at doing it, how does Duke get some of the more talented Boilermakers off of the court and into foul trouble. I'm looking at you Johnson, Moore, and Kramer.

Blue Devil I'm Watching: Alright. I finally am going make a stand. Is this the game where Brian Zoubek overreaches his boundaries? Crash the boards and set screens is all he has to do. Even sans Hummel, can Purdue get the Dookie big man to committ some careless fouls and open up a few and-1s?

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Purdue QUESTION: Question is, how do Moore and Johnson dominate in the paint without committing ticky-tack fouls? Believe me, I'm not beating a dead drum when I talk about the Dookies and their opponents committing ticky tack fouls. If you disagree, check the tape. Any tape. As for the Boilermaker bigs, both can get foul happy and Duke takes more charges - fair or flop - than anyone in the country (times 9,787). That means the Boilermaker big men might have to give up a layup or two or take a deeper jumper than expected...all in the name of avoiding the nickle-dimer.

Purdue X-FACTOR: They've been doubted about 15 seconds after Hummel went down with the ACL tear. So why should they care what the odds are against them? Duke hasn't beat a legit team in the tournament in years and the Boilermakers made the Sweet Sixteen last year (before bowing out in the West to #1 seed UCONN). This team has nothing to lose. Embrace the suck and shock the world.

Boilermaker I'm Watching: Chris Kramer is all heart. Shane Falco-heart. I just like watching the kid play.

#3 Baylor vs. #10 St. Mary's

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Baylor QUESTION: They have one thing Villanova had (athleticism) and one they sorely lacked (size and length). So question is, how do they use that to attack Omar Samhan and put the big man - perhaps the star of the first weekend not named Ali (STONES!) on the bench in foul trouble?

Baylor X-FACTOR: Houston. Forget everything else. I've heard about two locations more than any other: BYU in Salt Laker City and Baylor in Houston. Since the Cougars have said bye-bye, I want to see if the Bears gain enough of an advantage - playing in Houston - to be noticed.

Bear I'm Watching: I'd be lying if I told you I'd seen a lot of Baylor this year. In fact, you can count the fingers on one of my hands and divide by two and get the number. Nevertheless, with a name like LaceDarius Dunn, how can your eyes not jump out of the box score. Nearly 20 points a game out of the Big XII ain't too shabby either. It's time to see what the junior can do. All the attention can't go to (Kansas State's) Jacob Pullen, right?

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

St. Mary's QUESTION: Question is, how do you avoid an early letdown in the first game of the second weekend...after a flawless opening tilt? The Gaels are confident, brash, and cocky. Who can blame them? However, we've all see more than our fair share of teams who were the darlings of the opening weekend, only to flame out with crushing 20+-point defeats. The Gaels don't need to start out on fire, but they can't fall behind early. A back-and-forth pace is exatly what this team needs. Sometimes staying on your toes for 40-minutes, isn't such a bad strategy.

St. Mary's X-FACTOR: Watch the game tape of Sam Houston State's defensive scheme against Baylor, as well as the opening 10 minutes of the second half from ODU against the Bears. Now, craft your defensive strategy as such. Both of Baylor's opponents were able to find - if only for a portion of a half - something that worked. Combine that with a more potent offense and a talented big man, and St. Mary's has a shot.

Gael I'm Watching: If you want me to say a name besides Omar Samhan, you haven't been watching this tournament. Come on, you're better than that.

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