Thursday, March 23, 2006

How Sweet It Is - Part One

First off, I want to apologize for the terrible post last night. We have wireless now, and I typed this up in the common room, distracted by all manner of stimulus. This will be better. I promise. Seriously. And while I'm at it, just let me throw up the WARNING: Explicit hoops content to follow.

After a terribly boring three day hiatus, the NCAA Tournament has returned to us, with it's original field of 64 sliced down to a sugary quarter. Tonight the West (Oakland) and South (Atlanta) continue their whittling, and there's a lot of sexy match-ups - not just tonight, but tomorrow as well. Buckle up, we're four days away from having the Final Four set...


(4) LSU vs. (1) Duke

Here's my problem with people picking LSU to win this game, despite the fact I'd love it to happen, is that they needed a miracle three to beat Texas A&M. This is Duke, and despite the fact they don't have the inside fortitude to withstand an extended barrage from Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis, very few players have looked as strong as Shelden Williams thus far in the tournament. They'll need Darrel Mitchell and Garrett Temple to step up big-time against JJ and the Dukie pressure, something George Washington failed miserably at. It might be Big Baby's coming-out party tonight, but I think odds are it'll just be another stop on the Redick/Williams Tour.

Excitement Level: 7.5 Dick Enberg "Oh My's!", out of a possible 10

The Pick: Duke

Watch him...he's shifty..... (Credit Deadspin)

(6) West Virginia vs. (2) Texas

These teams played waaaay back in November, and despite outrebounding the Mountaineers by twenty, the Longhorns only won by one after The Gansey had his lay-up blocked as time ran out. Beilein's 1-3-1 will negate Texas' size, and as long as WVU doesn't go ice-cold, they'll have enough firepower to knock out the Big 12's sole survivor, who probably should have lost to Pennsylvania. I don't know how they beat NC State by that much....

(Inerjection: Is that because NC State blows? Remember, Seton Hall beat them by twenty a month ago.)

....and anyway, guard play is what wins in this tournament, and I'll take Gansey, Beilein and Herber over Gibson and Paulino any day, no matter how many overrated lottery picks Texas has playing inside (Tucker, Aldridge).

Excitement Level: 7 Dick Enberg "Oh My's"!

The Pick: WVU


(13) Bradley vs. (1) Memphis

Memphis has been nothing short of deadly efficent, going from "the most vulnerable number one seed" to the number one seed that took care of business against two very capable teams. Bradley has looked completely within themselves in both their wins over highly regarded Kansas and Pitt teams, with nothing they've been doing particularly out of the ordinary. They out-ran Kansas, then they out-grinded Pitt, but they'll have to do both against a Memphis team capable of executing in the half-court and going dunk n' trey crazy in transition. Patrick O' Bryant has elevated himself to lottery status and Marcellus Sommerville is a fine complement, but this will be the greatest test any of the Missouri Valley teams has faced so far this tournament.

Excitement Level: 6 Dick Enberg "Oh My's", because that's the average of 9, the level it will be if Bradley keeps it close, and 3, the level it will be if Memphis runs away with it early.

The Pick: Memphis

(3) Gonzaga vs. (2) UCLA

Gonzaga managed to maintain its Cinderella status last weekend despite its seed, having Adam Morrison drag them past Xavier and then having everyone else step up against the Hoosiers. UCLA probably should have lost against Alabama with the number of free throws they were clanking in the final minutes, but they pulled it out. However, Gonzaga looked like a well-oiled machine without their best player having his usual game, and isn't the Sweet Sixteen where the Ben Howland train veers off the tracks? I love me some Farmar/Afflalo backcourt, but remember how awesome Raivio, Batista, Mallon and the rest looked back at Maui?

They're back.

Excitement Level: 10 Dick Enberg "Oh My's"

The Pick: Gonzaga

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