Sweet Sixteen: Midwest Region PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009
Looking back at the Midwest Region 1st/2d Rounds…
Best Game: undoubtedly the game of the Tourney thus far, the Ohio St.-Siena game had not one, but two, game-changing threes by the underdog Saints to keep their hopes alive.
Shocker: Wake Forest’s complete and utter failure to show up for its game against Cleveland St. last Friday night. With three first-rounders on the team, there is no excuse for a team to be this mentally out of it (which they were much of the last six weeks of the season).
Cinderella That’s Not Really One: Arizona was one of the last teams invited to the Dance, but we all knew that their talent was better than most #12 seeds if they could just put it together. They received a favorable draw in the first two rounds, playing an overrated #5 Utah team and a true Cinderella #13 Cleveland St., but if they really want to impress us, beat Louisville tomorrow night.
Region MVP (so far): Cole Aldrich, Kansas. A player who gets a trip-dub automatically wins the MVP from us. Aldrich terrorized Dayton for 13/20/10 blks on Sunday.
Breakout Star: Demar DeRozan, USC. He averaged 18/7 in two games on the biggest stage after a fairly inconsistent freshman season, and probably improved his draft stock a dozen spots just based on the last two weekends.
Looking ahead to Friday night’s games…
#1 Louisville vs. #12 Arizona,
We have the odd pairing of the #1 overall seed versus the lowest seeded team left in the field. The Cardinals coming in having struggled in their first two games while the Wildcats had about as easy of a trip to the Sweet 16 that a #12 seed could hope for going into the tournament. The interesting thing about this game is that the lower-seeded Wildcats have more NBA talent than the Cardinals so if you just look at the match-ups it might seem like Arizona would be favored in this game, but they aren’t (Louisville -8.5). The key to this game will be whether or not Arizona’s stars (Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger) can dominate their counterparts on Louisville (Edgar Sosa, and Earl Clark). If they played one-on-one, Wise would abuse Sosa, but I’m not sure if he can deal with Louisville’s pressure defense. In the end, I’m going with RTC Big East POY Terrence Williams doing all the little things that he always does pushing Louisville over the top in a fairly hard-fought game if Louisville can hit its free throws down the stretch (no guarantee since they shoot an abysmal 63.8% from the line as a team).
#2 Michigan State vs. #3 Kansas,
This has the potential to be the best Sweet 16 match-up this year. Both teams got here after winning one easy game and one difficult game. For the Spartans the easy game came in the first round (Robert Morris) and the difficult game came in the second round (USC–thanks to Tim Floyd’s failure to understand how to save Taj Gibson for the last 10 minutes of the game). For the Jayhawks, the difficult game came in the first round (North Dakota State and sharp-shooting Ben Woodside) and the easy game came in the second round (Dayton). The two marquee individual match-ups are Kalin Lucas versus and versus Cole Aldrich. I actually like Kansas in both of those individual match-ups, but I think the Spartans supporting players like Raymar Morgan and Travis Walton will outplay their Jayhawk counterpart like Brady Morningstar who went 0/4 from beyond the arc against Dayton.