Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NCAA Tourney Sweet 16 Preview and Predictions, Day 2

If you already read our Sweet 16 Day One preview, then you are ready for Day Two! Day 2 games will be played on Friday. Be sure to check our March Madness TV Listings for airtimes. All times pacific, unless otherwise indicated!

Davidson vs Wisconsin
Wisconsin, just like Washington State, are teams that have a more performance narrow band. They usually beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and lose to the teams they are supposed to. This is good news for Badger fans, unless of course Davidson is indeed playing like an Elite 8 team :)

I would prefer to see the Cinderella story continue, Davidson and Stephen Curry to make some noise and get to the Elite 8, and Bob McKillop to finally get the mass-market respect he deserves.

But I'm afraid that Wisconsin is not going to be "surprised" by the Wildcats the same way the Zags and the Hoyas were. Bo Ryan has the depth and the talent to win this game, one way or the other.

Stanford vs Texas
Oh boy, this is a tough one to get a read on. Texas, like Xavier, are crazy teams. They can beat anyone, and they can lose to anyone. The Stanford guards are really going to have their hands full with DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, and there's only one Greg Washington on the roster.

The good news for Stanford fans is that they were already able to beat a guard-loaded team in Marquette, and that was with the drama of Trent Johnson getting prematurely ejected from the game.

But unlike the Marquette guards, the Texas guards can shoot from Austin and make the bucket in Houston. And that's where the game is going to be played. Home co(ur)t advantage goes to Texas for sure.

Texas has enough big bodies to bother the Lopez twins on offense and defense, and the struggling Lawrence Hill is going to be tested going up against former Kelvin Sampson signee (the list is getting longer and longar) Damion James.

On the other hand, the Lopez twins are going to clog up the paint on defense, and create havoc in the paint on offense.

Can Stanford limit the three-point makes of Texas? Can they stop the wild runs and fast-breaks? If yes, they have a chance to win the game. Our prediction? Texas wins in a dramatic game.

Michigan State vs Memphis State
Well, well, well, the pundits are picking Izzo State, just like they were picking Pitt to steamroll Izzo State. We didn't, we saw that Izzo would be able to short-circuit the Panthers, and all the pundits (Bob Knight included) were blinded by the fact that MSG is Pitt's second home court as half of their roster is from the NYC/NJ area. We predicted Michigan State would beat Pitt.

And using the same reasoning, we see that Izzo State is really overmatched in just about every position, and unless Memphis has a total collapse on the free throw and the three point line, Memphis will get an easy win over Michigan State.

The development of Kalin Lucas was slowed down because coaches are "loyal" to their older players, in this case, Lucas is the one who should be running the show, not Neitzer and not Walton. But that's another story. Calipari has a lot of options to try to slow down Kalin Lucas, from tiny Andre Allen, to tall Antonio Anderson, along with Willie Kemp and Derrick Rose. Neitzel is an easy cover for most of the Memphis perimeter players.

Raymar Morgan could create some problems but Calipari has options, from Dozier to Anderson to handle him. Michigan State's size inside is not a threat since none of those guys are likely to beat a team or force double-teams. Heck, we may even see Pierre Niles or Hashim Bailey if Izzo goes big and tall ;-)

Villanova vs Kansas
Can you smell it? Can you smell it? We can smell it! No, it's not last week's dinner, it's the upset in the making! It's all about the guards, and Nova has a boatload of them. Guards and three pointers! That will be the undoing of Kansas, and a very disappointing loss for the Bill Self Jayhawks.

They showed this year against UNLV that they can grind better than last year (see Southern Illinois and Kansas NCAA tourney games), but as we saw in the Arizona game, talented guards can give them headaches. And Nova has plenty!

Now how can Villanova make up for the difference in talent inside the paint? With Casseim Drummond out for the season, the "shorties" will have to deal with "Shady", "Chaka Khan", and "Not Elton Brand Jackson", along with "Paul Bunyan". If the Nova Shorties can do enough to minimize the impact of the three big bigs, and contain Shady, and the guards, then we have an upset special!

Does this defy logic? Yes it does! But then again, this is the NCAA tournament. And let's not forget, how many of the NBA playoff results would have been the same if the NBA Playoffs were single elimination games? Even some of the best NBA teams of all time had their bad games and even got blown out on occasion. And with the NBA we are talking about seasoned professionals, not college kids.

Obviously Kansas would win a best of seven series, but in a single game setting, if the Nova guards are on fire, and the pressure weighs on Kansas, and the memories of the two first round exits and Elite 8 appearances cloud their minds, it will be upset city!.

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