Sweet 16 Preview: South & Midwest Regions

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2008

#1 Memphis vs. #5 Michigan State (9:57 PM): It seems like a lot of analysts consider this the best of the Sweet 16 games. I just don’t see it. I’d take either of the 2-3 matchups (Tennessee/Louisville or Texas/Stanford) over this game, but I still think it should be an interesting game.

Tom Izzo has done a good job getting the Spartans back on track after a bad February stretch where they lost 3 of 4 games. The Spartans returned all 5 starters from last year so they obviously have experience, which helped them withstand that rough stretch. However, coming into the tournament not a lot of people were giving them much respect particularly with Pittsburgh waiting in the 2nd round. The Spartans surprised a lot of people, including me, by knocking off the Panthers. The Spartans are led offensively by a pair of 2nd team All-Big 10 players: Raymar Morgan and the more-heralded Drew Neitzel. The duo, who average 14.2 and 14.1 PPG respectively, will need a big performance out of freshman PG Kalin Lucas if they want to try to run with the Tigers (IMO not the best strategy).

If you’re a college basketball fan (and if you’re on this blog you certainly are one unless you ended up here doing a Google search for Erin Andrews), you know about Memphis’s inability to hit free throws. I don’t buy into John Calipari that Memphis won their 2nd round game against Mississippi State at the free throw line because they made more free throws despite going 15/32 from the line. It seems like there hasn’t been a single analyst who picks Memphis to win the title, but when I look at this team I see an unbelievably athletic team that is 35-1 and came very close to being undefeated at this point in the season. The Tigers like to run and utilize a Dribble-Drive Motion offense. Leading the attack are Chris Douglas-Roberts and the ridiculously fast freshman PG Derrick Rose. While having those two along might be enough to sustain an offense, Calipari also has solid players in Robert Dozier, Joey Dorsey, and Antonio Anderson. The result is an unconvential offense filled with freakish athletes, a combination that is very hard to defend. One big key for Memphis will be is if they can keep Dorsey out of foul trouble as he is their muscle inside (at least as long as he doesn’t try to talk trash like he did last year before he got beat down by Greg Oden).

Opening Line: Memphis -5.
Prediction: A lot of analysts think the Tigers will be the first #1 seed to lose. I could definitely see that happening, but just not in this round. The Tigers have too much talent for the Spartans. If the Spartans have an X-factor, it would be Lucas. Unfortunately, he will be going against Rose who is several levels above Lucas at this point in their careers. The result is Memphis winning by 5-10 points. I think they will outplay the Spartans, but will keep the game close with their “winning” free throw shooting.

#2 Texas vs. #3 Stanford (7:27 PM): Along with the Tennessee-Louisville game, this was our favorite game of the long weekend. Hopefully, this turns out to be more exciting than than the Cardinals rout was.

I’ll get this over with now: nobody left in the tournament can guard Brook Lopez. If he’s on, he should be getting 30 a night for the rest of the tournament. By now everyone knows that his twin brother Robin is the more defensive-minded one, which has led some people to speculate that Robin may be more successful as a pro (think Joakim Noah or Anderson Varejao). While those two will control the inside, the Cardinal use Lawrence Hill, Anthony Goods, and Mitch Johnson to control the perimeter. This trio hasn’t gotten much respect including from yours truly. However, if Stanford wants to beat Texas in Houston, they will need this group to control D.J. Augustin (and for Trent Johnson to stick around for the 2nd half).

Rick Barnes has done a great job making the Longhorns into a national title contender a year after losing Kevin Durant to the NBA. The Longhorns are led by D.J. Augustin, who has taken his game to another level as he has not had Durant to bail him out like last year. Augustin also has great support from A.J. Abrams, Damion James, and Connor Atchley. While the Longhorns don’t really have an answer for Brook Lopez, I don’t know how well the Lopez twins are going to be able to guard Atchley when he steps behind the 3 pt line where he has shot 42.3% (41/97) for the year.

Opening Line: Texas -1.
Prediction: If this game was outside of Texas, I probably would have gone with Stanford and the big guy inside. In the end, I think the homecourt and the Longhorns edge on the perimeter will let them pull away at the end of the game.

#1 Kansas vs. #12 Villanova (9:40 PM): This weekend in Detroit will once again focus all the attention on Bill Self and his heretofore confounding inability to get extremely talented teams into the F4 (o-4 trips to the E8). Considering that this bracket was blown apart by Cinderellas last weekend, the Jayhawks are the odds on favorite to win this region.

Villanova has looked really good in their two games against Clemson and Siena, shooting 52% and holding its opponents to only 37%. Scottie Reynolds has found his stroke, averaging 23 ppg thus far in the Tourney, and dropping eight threes in the two games. Look for Kansas to focus in on stopping Reynolds, as Villanova simply isn’t nearly as good of a team when he’s misfiring (27 total pts in Nova’s last three Ls).

But let’s be serious here. Kansas is the most talented team that Villanova has faced this season, and their season-long inconsistency is the reason they ended up a #12 seed. Their best wins of the year were probably close wins over Pitt and UConn at home, and neither of those teams bring the noise on offense (#1 off. efficency) and defense (#5 def. efficiency) as Kansas does. Villanova will play hard, but by most measures, a run to the Sweet 16 renders their season a successful one, and they’ll be happy to be there tonight. Kansas has much larger aspirations in mind, and as such, we expect a blowout win here tonight.

Opening Line: Kansas -11.5.
Prediction: KU jumps out early and often. Villanova makes a run in the second half to make things interesting, but they never seriously threaten the Jayhawks tonight. Bill Self’s albatross will be judged on Sunday.

#3 Wisconsin vs. #10 Davidson (7:10 PM): The undercard in Detroit tonight could end up being a total washout, we’re afraid. Davidson has looked fantastic in its two come-from-behind upsets of Gonzaga and Georgetown last weekend, and Stephen Curry’s legend is already concretely imprinted into the national consciousness. But we have a sneaky suspicion that the #1 defensive team in the land will absolutely lock up Curry, leaving the rest of the Wildcats struggling to pick up the slack.

The game that concerns us was the 6-19 (3-10 from 3) clunker (15 pts) that Curry put up against UCLA back in December. The Bruin defense (#2 nationally) keyed on Curry, which allowed the other Davidson shooters to get open looks early, as Davidson ran out to a quick early lead. But once UCLA figured out that they were going to have to guard all the Davidson shooters, they took control of the game and pulled away easily in the second half.

Wisconsin will probably employ a similar strategy. They’ll slow the game down to a crawl, and essentially dare anyone but Curry to beat them. You can count on a bruising, grinding, no-mistakes gameplan by Bo Ryan’s team, and honestly, short of a superhuman effort by Curry again, we don’t see any way that Davidson wins their way into the Elite 8. Gonzaga was soft mentally, and Georgetown forgot that they had a 7’3 beast underneath the basket, but Wisconsin is a different story.

Opening Line: Wisconsin -4.
Prediction: As much as we’d like to see the Curry bandwagon continue for another game, we just don’t think it’s possible. The Badgers will bump and grind him into a poor shooting night, giving him and his teammates more motivation for next year’s possible dream season.

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Pics of the Night

Posted by nvr1983 on March 22nd, 2008

If you’re expecting more Erin Andrews, you’re out of luck unless you want to check out the link (and we suggest you do). Tonight I will leave you with these pics that I found on a Texas A&M message board:

Forearm doesn't equal basketball


It’s a good thing that UCLA got away with it instead of Duke. If that had been Kyle Singler instead of Josh Shipp hacking Donald Sloan, the masses would be calling for blood.

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Kids, I’d like to introduce you to your stepfather. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2008

Well, I was going to wait for the blog’s daddy to introduce me but it looks like he is MIA and I lack a certain patience to start posting so here goes. . .

I’ll be Rush The Court’s stepfather for the tournament (and possibly longer if the money is right) while the blog’s biological father goes off to Vegas, which I guess is sort of like how the typical real father/stepfather thing unfolds. A quick plug since “rtmsf” won’t allow me to change the site to a Christian Laettner shrine complete with video of a foot stomp on Aminu Timberlake (Sidenote: Aminu appears to be on LinkedIn.com), I normally and somewhat infrequently pen a blog Health Care Watch about the health care industry that gets roughly 1/100th the traffic RTC does or 1/1000th what RTC does when it posts pictures of Erin Andrews. Apparently, Bruce Pearl doesn’t keep up-to-date on health care.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I’ll be posting pretty frequently throughout the week with links to relevant articles/video and the occasional analysis/prediction. I’m planning on trying to live blog (not the fake day-after blog that rtmsf’s boy Simmons does where he miraculously “predicts” what will happen a minute later) for those unfortunate souls who can’t watch the games or like me don’t have passionate college basketball fans around them. I am also thinking about creating an AOL chat room so you can have a real-time chat with each other and give me feedback along with the regular comments section on the site. This is all pending the approval of the blog’s biological father upon his return and that he won’t go apeshit about what I am doing to his baby. Let me know what you think and we will try to convince him.

I’ll leave you with some links for today while I try to figure out what I’m going to write for the next week or three.

NCAA tourney is the best, but it could be even better: ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski (no relation to the 1998 National Defensive Player of the Year and huge snub from ESPN’s 25 Greatest College Basketball Players of All-Time) does what any writer would do when he has no idea to write about; he writes a list on how to make something better. In this case, he picked our beloved NCAA tournament. I’ll probably end up making a post like this during that interminable wait until the first game on Thursday (if you think I’m missing a game in there that’s a hint about one suggestion I will be making).

The Bracket, Cracked: From the same geniuses who overvalued subprime mortgages and created the collateral debt obligations that sent the stock market into its recent freefall comes a pseudo-scientific way to fill out your bracket. Actually that’s a little exaggeration since the people who write for the Wall Street Journal are actually the ones who couldn’t get jobs on Wall Street so they didn’t actually cause the credit meltdown. Anyways, it’s a decent read with a couple extra features linked on there.

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Monday Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2008

Since we just continue to get slammed by work and life in general, we can’t even find time to post new Erin Andrews pics (so a video will have to suffice today)… but here are a few things that we enjoyed from the weekend’s events.

#1 v. #2. This was the only game we got to see this weekend, but it looked a lot like we had expected. Seriously, who didn’t see this one coming after Memphis’ recent struggles? To paraphrase Luke Winn today, Memphis looks like the same team of athletes that they always have – a bunch of guys who can’t run a halfcourt offense or make a clutch foul shot under any circumstances. When John Calipari came onto PTI last week and said that his players traditionally were clutch at making FTs down the stretch, we almost fell off our chair in hysterics, considering the Tigers’ pathetic performance in the last five minutes of the game (1-8) last week at UAB. We still don’t love the Volz come March, but they seem to be a lot tougher mentally than the previous renditions. Major trap game upcoming for UT at Vandy on Tuesday night.

EA v. BP. What coach hasn’t been romantically linked to Erin Andrews at one time or another? After Saturday night’s halftime interview goosing at the hands of Bruce Pearl, we think it’s safe to say that EA isn’t busily canoodling with the Tennessee coach in her spare time. Ok!

Kelvin No More. So there was no player mutiny at IU over the weekend, but there may have been one on campus had the Hoosiers actually dropped their weekend game at Northwestern, currently winless (0-14) in the Big Ten. How will interim coach Dan Dakich handle what are obviously bruised player egos and emotions? The Hoosiers could be looking at a crash-and-burn in a big way here if he can’t get their buy-in very soon.

Other Games. A few other scores caught our eyes this weekend…

  • Oklahoma St. 61, Kansas 60. There is absolutely no excuse for KU losing to this OSU team.
  • Drake 71, Butler 64. Battle of the mid-majors involved Drake going to Hinkle and showing they’re going to be heard from in March.
  • Arizona 65, Washington St. 55. The strange and curious middle of the Pac-10 continues to confound us.
  • Miami (FL) 78, Maryland 63. Last week the Canes just made themselves relevant.
  • LSU 69, Ole Miss 49. Ok, so Andy Kennedy still had a good year in getting Ole Miss to the NIT.

Only four more days until March, people!!!

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EA Sports

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2008

From last night’s Penn St. – Ohio St. game…  (h/t to The Ozone)



(photo credit: Jim Davidson)

(photo credit: Jim Davidson)

Full complement of Erin Andrews photos taken at last night’s game here.  Yeesh.

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