West Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (Pt. 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

West Region – by Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports

#6 Marquette vs. #11 Utah State
Playing in the Big East must suck sometimes.  The Eagles are currently losers of five of their last six, but lost those five to Louisville, UConn, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Nova.  The one chance they got against an inferior team during that stretch, they crushed St. John’s by 29.  Give Utah State a chance if you’re brave, but Eagle guards Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews will probably prove too much to handle.

#3 Missouri vs. #14 Cornell
The NCAA Tournament is familiar territory to Cornell, entering the Dance as a 14-seed last season.  Missouri, on the other hand, hasn’t been to the Tourney is six years.  So, obviously, Cornell has the upper hand.  Ha!  No, but seriously though, Missouri is as dangerous a team as any in the field, winners of 11 of their last 13 and Big XII Tournament Champs.  Cornell made it here by holding four of their last five opponents to under 60 points, but that won’t happen against the Tigers.

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NCAA Preview: Texas Longhorns

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2009

University of Texas (7, East)

vs. Minnesota (10)
Thursday, March 19, 2009, 7:20 ET tip

Vegas Line: TX -5.5

texas-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Austin, TX

Conference: Big 12 (at-large bid)

Coach: Rick Barnes, 265 W, 102 L

08-09 Record: 22-11 (9-7 B12)

Last 12 Games: 7-5

Best Win: (three-way tie) vs UCLA (12/4), n-Villanova at MSG (12/9), vs Oklahoma (2/21)

Worst Loss: 61-67 at Arkansas, (1/6)

Off. Efficiency Rating: 110.7 (47th)

Def. Efficiency Rating: 91.7 (29th)

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Dexter Pittman (Junior Center) – 117.3 ORtg, 6.7 FC/40, .619 2ptFG%, 17.9 OR%, 18.0 DR%
Unsung Hero:
Dogus Balbay (Freshman PG) – 26.6 Asst Rate, 2.6 STL%, 100% improvement in TX halfcourt offense when he emerged as the team leader at PG
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s):
Damion James (late 1st Rd, early 2nd)
Key Injuries:
None
Depth:
28.4% bench minutes
Achilles Heel: 32.1% 3ptFG shooting
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Pittman and Balbay are 30+ minute per game players
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Foul trouble sends Pittman or Damion James to the bench for any extended amount of time.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2007, South Regional Finalists (L, Memphis)
Streak
11 years
Best NCAA Finish:
2003, National Semifinalists (L, Syracuse)

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None with this hoops team, but appropriately enough for a school disproportionately obsessed with its football, WR Roy Williams and NT Sean Rogers both “starred” for hapless Lions teams in Detroit, and Pro Bowl NT Casey Hampton won his first Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ford Field.
Distance to First Round Site:
1,298 miles
School’s Claim to Fame:
The nation’s largest university has too many to name
School Wishes It Could Forget:
The tragic Charles Whitman shooting
Prediction:
The ‘Horns first round contest against Minnesota isn’t being appreciated for the interesting match ups the two teams provide. I’ll be watching how officials not used to Dexter Pittman officiate him with regards to fouls. If he picks up chippies, Texas is one and done. If he’s out there for 30 minutes, the Longhorns are a legitimate threat to beat anyone in the East.

Preview written by… Peter Bean, Burnt Orange Nation

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NCAA Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2009

Wake Forest (#4, Midwest, Miami pod)

vs. Cleveland St. (#13)
Friday, 3/20 at 9:40pm.

Vegas Line: Wake Forest -6

wake-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Conference: ACC, at-large
Coach: Dino Gaudio, hired 2007.  Record at WFU = 41-19.
08-09 Record: 24-6 (11-6)
Last 12 Games: 7-5
Best Win: vs. UNC, 92-89, on 1/11
Worst Loss: @ Miami,  52-79, on 2/4.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 111.8 (14)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 89.4 (40)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Jeff Teague, 19/3/4 assts/2 stls on 49/45/82% shooting; James Johnson, 15/9 on 53% shooting.
Unsung Hero: Chas McFarland – 9/6 on 53% shooting.
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Teague, #12 (2009), Johnson, #29 (2009), Al-Farouq Aminu, #9 (2009).
Key Injuries: None.
Depth: 29.6% mins (204th nationally).
Achilles Heel: Three-point shooting.  Wake shoots 31.7% from behind the arc, 275th best in the nation.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They play with focus and aggression.  This team has a tendency to only get up for the “big” games.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They play unfocused and get caught up in a three-point shooting contest.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2005; lost to West Virginia in the Second Round.
Streak: 1.
Best NCAA Finish: Final Four in 1963.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.40

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 810 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Producing NBA All-Stars without making the Final Four (T. Duncan, J. Howard, C. Paul).
School Wishes It Could Forget: Mike Gansey, Jamal Mashburn, the Stanford frontline, Butler.
Prediction: If Wake gets by Cleveland St., a big “if,” they have enough NBA-quality talent to beat anybody in the field.  The problem is focus and chemistry, and we’re not convinced that they have each other’s best interests in mind.  Another WFU flameout like their forebears is in the cards.

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Washington Huskies

Posted by jstevrtc on March 19th, 2009

Washington (#4, West, Portland pod)

vs Mississippi State (#13)
Thur., 3/19 at 5 pm
Vegas line:  -6

wash-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Seattle, Washington
Conference: Pac-10, at-large.
Coach: Lorenzo Romar, hired 2002.  Record at UW = 144-80
08-09 Record: 25-8 (14-4)
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: at Arizona State, 84-71, on 1/31/09.
Worst Loss: at Portland, 74-80, on 11/15/08.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 112.1 (37th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 88.7 (11th)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Isaiah Thomas (15.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Jon Brockman (14.9 ppg and 11.2 rpg).
Unsung Hero: Quincy Pondexter (11.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Potential NBA Draft Pick: None listed at nbadraft.net, but Thomas is already generating talk.
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 31.2% (162nd nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Taking care of the ball.  UW averages 14.7 TO per game, ranking 252nd nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can shoot a little better.  The Huskies shoot 45.9% from the field including 34.1% from three (respectively 69th and 166th in the nation), but they’ll need a little improvement on that to go deep.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They get outrebounded.  They average 37.7 rebounds/game, 5th in the nation.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2006; lost to Connecticut in the Sweet 16.
Streak: One year.
Best NCAA Finish: National semifinalist in 1953, lost to Kansas.  Beat LSU in consolation game for 3rd.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 175 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: The med school is ranked #1 in Primary Care and the nursing school has been ranked #1 since 1984.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Recent football woes — last winning season was 2002.
Prediction: Assuming Jarvis Varnado doesn’t block everything in their first round game, Washington matches up well with all three teams in its 16th of the bracket, so a trip to the Sweet 16 seems likely.
Major RTC stories: Pac-10 Wrapup and Tourney Preview

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Utah Utes

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2009

Utah (#5, Midwest, Miami pod)

vs Arizona (#12)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:10 pm
Vegas line:  -1

utahgraf

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Conference: Mountain West, automatic.
Coach: Jim Boylen, hired 2007.  Record at UU = 42-24
08-09 Record: 24-9 (12-4)
Last 12 Games: 10-2, won 4.
Best Win: vs Gonzaga, 66-65, on 12/31/08.
Worst Loss: Southwest Baptist (Div. 2), 79-80, on 11/15/08.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 110.5 (50th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 90.7 (21st)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Luke Nevill (16.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg)
Unsung Hero: Luka Drca – 7.8 ppg and he leads team in assists (3.5 apg).
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Luke Nevill is currently listed at 60th (final pick of 2nd round) on mock draft at nbadraft.net.
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 21.8% (325th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Aggression on defense.  UU forces opponents to only 10.4 turnovers/game, which is 338th of 341 D1 teams nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They shoot like they have been and they get to the line.  The Utes led the MWC in every shooting category, including a 78.2 FT%, which ranks third in the nation.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Nevill is left to do all of the work.  The supporting cast has to make its presence felt and make Arizona guard five people instead of one.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2005; lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
Streak: One year.
Best NCAA Finish: National Champion in 1944.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.26

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 2539 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Playing host to many events in the 2002 Winter Olympics; renowned for contributions to the field of genetics/genealogy.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The University of Kentucky, to whom the Utes have lost a total of SIX TIMES in the NCAA Tournament, including the 1998 title game AND the preceding two tournaments in the Elite 8 and Sweet 16, respectively.  Also, two physicists there said they had achieved cold fusion back in 1989, but were quickly discredited.
Prediction: People will be salivating to pick Arizona as a 12 upsetting a 5 largely because they haven’t heard much about Utah this year.  But the Utes look like they’re peaking at the right time and should prevail at least in the first round in a great matchup.  If they continue to shoot well, the sky’s the limit after that.

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Maryland (#10, West, Kansas City pod)
Vs. California (#7)
Thurs., 3/19 at 2:55 PM
Vegas Line:
Pick ‘em

General Profile
Location: College Park, MD
Conference: ACC, At-Large
Coach: Gary Williams, 417-228 at Maryland, 622-356 overall
08-09 Record: 20-13, 7-9
Last 12 Games: 6-6
Best Win: Defeated UNC, 88-85 on February 21st
Worst Loss: Lost to Morgan State, 66-65 on January 7th (Ed. Note: We think the 41-point loss at Duke on January 24th may have been just as bad.)
Off. Efficiency Rating: 108.2; 72nd
Def. Efficiency Rating: 93.5; 47th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Greivis Vasquez (17.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 5.1 APG)
Unsung Hero: C Dave Neal (8.3 ppg, 39% 3pt shooter)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Greivis Vasquez (58th in 2010)
Key Injuries: PF/C Jerome Burney, out for season
Depth: 28.3% (233rd nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Lack of size. Maryland doesn’t have anyone on the team bigger than 6’7″. The Terps’ starting center is 6’6″ and can’t jump. If a team has good big men, they can have some great games. They’ve been able to neutralize by extensive use of zone defense, but it can only do so much.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Greivis Vasquez gets hot and someone else (Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne, or Sean Mosley) can step up and provide another consistent offensive option.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They can’t defend in the post or get any rebounds. That’s caused quite a few losses this year already.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2007. Lost to Butler in the second round.
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: National Champion (2002)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.28. On average, Maryland wins 0.28 more games per year than would be expected for their seed based on historical standards.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Two famous Terrapins (Juan Dixon and Joe Smith) have played for the Detroit Pistons in recent years, but the Terrapin with the greatest success in Detroit was Gene Shue. Shue was a 5-time All-Star as a Piston including a 1st team All-NBA selection and a 2nd team All-NBA selection.
Distance to First Round Site: 1,072 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: On the field/court, Maryland’s renowned for having a great all-around athletic program – soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football, basketball, and even competitive cheer all consistently compete at the highest levels. Outside of the playing field, Maryland grads are responsible for Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld (Larry David), the Muppets (Jim Henson), 30 Rock (Beth McCarthy), The Boondocks (Aaron McGruder), The Wire (David Simon), Outback Steakhouse (Robert Basham), SIRIUS Radio (Robert Briskman), and Under Armor (Kevin Plank). Oh, yeah, and Google, too (Sergey Brin).
School Wishes It Could Forget: Several things, unfortunately. First, there was the near-death sentence punishment passed down by the NCAA, which set the program back several years. There was also the massive riots after the Terps won the natty in 2002 which included burning couches and massive crowds throughout the streets. (Ed. Note: Len Bias too.)
Prediction: I have Maryland winning over Cal, simply because Cal’s size advantage isn’t nearly as pronounced as some of the teams Maryland has played recently. Having a team to go eye-to-eye would be quite a change. Memphis just has too much athleticism, though, and will probably have a chip on their shoulder due to the seeding.
Major RTC stories: Gary Williams Hates Graduation, Maryland Responds, Make Your Case: Maryland Terrapins, Daily Obituaries: 03.08.09 (oops), More Intrigue at Maryland, Trouble in College Park,

Preview written by “bbroman” of Testudo Times.

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NCAA Preview: Xavier Musketeers

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2009

Xavier University (#4, East, Boise pod)

vs Portland State (#13)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:25 pm
Vegas line:  +10.5

General Profile
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Conference: Atlantic 10, at-large.
Coach: Sean Miller, hired 2004.  Record at XU = 118-48
08-09 Record: 25-7 (12-4)
Last 12 Games: 7-5
Best Win: vs Memphis, 63-58, on 11/28/08.
Worst Loss: at Charlotte, 60-65, on 2/19/09.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 111.3 (44th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 90.4 (18th)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): B.J. Raymond (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Unsung Hero: Dante’ Jackson – leads team in assists (2.8 apg) and steals (1.2 spg)
Potential NBA Draft Pick: n/a
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 31.4% (153th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Care of the basketball.  XU averages 14.7 TO per game, ranking 252nd nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They stay focused.  XU has a bad habit of taking a while to wake up for games.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The threes aren’t falling.  Xavier shoots 39.9% from beyond the arc, which is 13th in the nation.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008; lost to UCLA in an Elite 8 game, 57-76.
Streak: Four years.
Best NCAA Finish: The Elite 8 in 2004 and 2008.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.07

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 1948 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Xavier University graduates 94.7% of its athletes (all sports), which is third in the nation.  Every basketball player since 1985 has graduated.  The school’s name before it was changed — The Athenaeum.
School Wishes It Could Forget: That 3-point loss to Duke in the Elite 8 in 2004.
Prediction: Xavier has somehow stayed underneath the national radar most of the year, so they’ll be a popular pick to be upset in the first round; but in a 4 vs 13 game it’s hard not to pick a team that beat both Missouri and Memphis this season.
Major RTC stories: RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Texas A&M Aggies

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Texas A&M (#9, South, Miami pod)
Vs. BYU (#8)
Thurs., 3/19 at 12:30 PM
Vegas Line:
Texas A&M, +2

General Profile
Location: College Station, TX
Conference: Big 12, At-Large
Coach: Mark Turgeon, 48-20
08-09 Record: 23-9, 9-7
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: Defeated Missouri, 96-86 on March 7th
Worst Loss: Lost to Texas Tech, 88-83 in the Big 12 tournament on March 11th
Off. Efficiency Rating: 112.2, 36th
Def. Efficiency Rating:96.6, 79th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s):
Josh Carter (14.1 PPG and 4.5 RPG) and Chinemelu Elonu (10.1 PPG on 66.7% FG and 7.4 RPG)
Unsung Hero: Donald Sloan (11.7 PPG and 3.0 APG)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Elonu (54th in 2010). Carter is listed as late second round to undrafted in 2009 by ESPN.
Key Injuries: None
Depth:
31.2% (158th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inconsistency. Their best win of the year was followed by their worst loss of the year (their most recent game)
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They play under control like they did last year when they beat BYU in the first round.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They play impatiently and take bad shots.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited:
2008; lost to UCLA in the 2nd round (on a controversial play)
Streak: 4th consecutive year
Best NCAA Finish: Final 4 (1969)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): Not enough data (Minimum 8 bids during this period)

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit:
San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford played basketball at Texas A&M. In 2005, his Spurs team defeated the Detroit Pistons in one of the ugliest NBA Finals series in recent years.
Distance to First Round Site: 1,593 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Kyle Field (where the football team) is the home of the famed “12th Man” and has been consistently ranked as one of the top places to watch a football game even if the on-field product is not that great.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Its hideous court design.
Prediction: Repeat of last year. Beat BYU in the first round and then lose to a Final 4 team in the 2nd round although this time without the controversy.
Major RTC stories: Pics of the Night

Preview written by Rush the Court

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NCAA Preview: Temple Owls

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Temple (#11, South, Miami pod)
Vs. Arizona State (#6)
Fri., 3/20 at 2:45 PM
Vegas Line:
Temple, +5

General Profile
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Conference: Atlantic-10, Automatic bid
Coach: Fran Dunphy, 55-42
08-09 Record: 22-11, 11-5 in the Atlantic-10
Last 12 Games: 10-2 including 5 straight wins
Best Win: Defeated Xavier 55-53 in the Atlantic 10 tournament on March 13th
Worst Loss: At Long Beach State 76-71 on December 22nd
Off. Efficiency Rating: 108.6, 68th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.6, 40th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s):
Dionte Christmas (19.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG) and Lavoy Allen (10.9 PPG and 8.9 RPG)
Unsung Hero: Ryan Brooks (10.7 PPG and 3.8 RPG)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Christmas (34th in 2009)
Key Injuries: None
Depth:
24.7% (306th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: The Owls have no depth (or Dunphy chooses not to utilize it).
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Christmas can outplay Arizona State’s star James Harden.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: If Christmas is having an off-night.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited:
2008; lost to Michigan State in the 1st round
Streak: 2nd straight year
Best NCAA Finish: Third place (1944, 1956, and 1958)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.24. On average the Owls win 0.24 more games per year than they would be expected to based on the historical performance of teams with a similar seed.

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit:
Mike Jarmoluk, who played football at Temple, was drafted by the Detroit Lions and ended up making a Pro Bowl. Unfortunately for Lions, he never played for them as he ended up playing the Eagles and made the Pro Bowl in 1951.
Distance to First Round Site: 1,195 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Hall of Fame coach John Chaney, who was just as legendary for his ability to win as his fiery demeanor.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Chaney ordering a “hit” on St. Joseph’s John Bryant.
Prediction: The Owls will hang around for the first half against the Sun Devils before Harden and Jeff Pendergraph pull away for a double-digit victory.
Major RTC stories: N/A

Preview written by Rush the Court

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Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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NCAA Preview: VCU Rams

Posted by jstevrtc on March 18th, 2009

Virginia Commonwealth University (#11, East, Philadelphia pod)

vs UCLA (#6)
Thurs., 3/19 at about 10 pm
Vegas Line:  +7.5

General Profile
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Conference: Colonial, automatic
Coach: Anthony Grant, hired 2006.  Record at VCU = 76-24
08-09 Record: 24-9 (14-4)
Last 12 Games: 9-3 (won 5)
Best Win: George mason, 76-71, on 1/24/09.
Worst Loss: Delaware, 79-81, on 1/3/09.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 108.0 (74th)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 93.6 (49th)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Eric Maynor (22.4 ppg, 6.2 apg, 1.7 spg)
Unsung Hero: Larry Sanders (11.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.7 blocks/g).  Not unsung as much as it is he just plays behind Maynor.
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Maynor is projected as a lottery pick (14th) at nbadraft.net.
Key Injuries: No significant injuries.
Depth: 28.4% (229th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Rebounding.  VCU pulls 30.9 rpg, which is 209th nationally.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can get Maynor his touches and let him work.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They don’t exercise good shot selection.  The Rams shoot 43.6% which is 55th nationally, but they can’t be intimidated by the cameras and their first-round opponent in UCLA.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2007; beat Duke in R1 and then lost to Pittsburgh in R2 in overtime.
Streak: One year.
Best NCAA Finish: 1-1 in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 2007.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 243 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Tony Parker would be proud, since VCU has the largest French film festival in the US.  Notable alums include Patch Adams MD, actor Stephen Furst (aka Flounder) and Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Wrongly giving an undergrad degree to a former Richmond police chief after he only earned 6 credits from the school; its “interesting” dealings with Phillip Morris USA.
Prediction: With a star player like Maynor, anything is possible.  You’d have to pick UCLA to get past the Rams in the first round but I can’t say an upset would surprise me or if Maynor positioned himself as this year’s Stephen Curry.
Major RTC stories:  RTC Live: CAA Tournament, CAA Tourney Preview

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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NCAA Preview: Dayton Flyers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Dayton (#11, Midwest, Minneapolis pod)

vs. West Virginia (#6)
March 20th at 3:00 P.M.

Vegas Line: WVU -8.5
General Profile

Location: Dayton, OH
Conference:
Atlantic 10, at-large bid
Coach:
Brian Gregory, 124-67
08-09 Record:
26-7 (11-5)
Last 12 Games:
7-5
Best Win:
Xavier, 71-58 (2/11)
Worst Loss:
@ Charlotte, 79-66 (2/8)
Off. Efficiency Rating:
142
Def. Efficiency Rating:
39

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Chris Wright (12.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg,
Unsung Hero: Charles Little (8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 50% field goal percentage)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Chris Wright, late first to early second round
Key Injuries: Rob Lowery (knee)
Depth: 40.2% mins (14th in nation)
Achilles Heel: Poor perimeter shooting
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Can create easy buckets off turnovers and hold teams in the 60s
Will Make an Early Exit if…: West Virginia pulls out their 1-3-1 zone and the Flyers can’t shoot over it or create dribble penetration to break it

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2004, first round loss to DePaul
Streak: 1
Best NCAA Finish: 1967, NCAA runner-up
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: I drove there once. Never again. We also have a freshman named Paul Williams from Detroit Renaissance High School.
Distance to First Round Site:
704 miles
School’s Claim to Fame:
Former SportsCenter anchor Dan Patrick went to UD and regularly name-checks the Flyers on his radio show.
School Wishes It Could Forget:
The Jim O’Brien years. How that man continues to fail upwards is beyond me.
Prediction: I think the Flyers match up well against West Virginia. They’re more talented, but in many ways a mirror image of the Flyers. I refuse to predict a loss in the first round, so I’m going with an upset over West Virginia and bowing out honorably to Kansas on Sunday.

Report written by… Flyers Fanhouse

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