Tag:NCAA Tournament
Posted on: March 26, 2009 6:17 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2009 9:31 pm

#2 Oklahoma Sooners (NCAA)

#2 Oklahoma Sooners 29-5 (13-3 Big XII)


Oklahoma Starting Lineup:

G Austin Johnson Sr.

G Willie Warren Fr.

G Tony Crocker Jr.

F Taylor Griffin Sr.

F Blake Griffin Soph.


Key Bench Players:

G Omar Leary Sr.

F Juan Pattillo Jr.

G Cade Davis Soph.


Previous Game:  The Sooners defeated the Michigan Wolverines 73-63 in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16.  The Wolverines where plagued by foul trouble as 4 starters finished with 4 or more fouls.  Consensous Player Of the Year Blake Griffin carried the Sooners to victory finishing with 33 points and 17 boards, freshman shooting guard Willie Warren had 16 points.


Game Preview:  The Sweet 16 is here.  The matchup between the #2 seed Oklahoma Sooners and the #3 seed Syracuse Orange.  The strong frontcourt of the Sooners against the deadly backourt of the Orange.  Contrary to what most people believe, the performance of Blake Griffin will not be the difference in this game.  Griffin, who averages 22.5 ppg along with 14.4 rpg, will undoubtedly get his 20 points and 15 rebounds.  For Syracuse to win they need to hold the OU guards down on the outside and not allow them to get hot.  Against Michigan and their 1-3-1 zone, OU went 6-19 or 31% from 3.  If Syracuse can get a performance like that out of Warren, Crocker, Johnson and Davis (all shoot between 34% and 38% from 3) regardless of what Blake Griffin does Cuse should come out on top.  If OU is going to win they need to "outshoot" the Syracuse guards.  If Flynn, Devendorf and Rautins can shoot like they did against Arizona State it is going to be hard to beat Syracuse.  Another key for the Cuse, the X factor, Paul Harris.  Other than his 29 point 22 rebound performance against UConn in 6 OT's, Paul has been quiet as of late.  He is one of the only guys on the team that isn't on his game.  Though, Harris has traditionally shown up for the big games in his career.  This is a huge game and if Harris can help the frontcourt with the Griffin's and Pattillo, it would go a long way towards getting a W and a trip to the Elite 8.  On a side note, Jim Boeheim is going for his 800th win in the game.  That would make him only the 8th head coach ever to reach 800 wins.


My Prediction:  Toughest prediction yet.  Blake Griffin is the POY, probable #1 draft pick and just all around great player.  The problem for OU is they have a severe lack of balance.  Outiside of Blake Griffin and Willie Warren there are not any other players that average double digits or are consistant scoring threats.  Expect another high scoring game, both teams shoot very well but the balance of Syracuse prevails giving Jim Boeheim number 800 and Syracuse a trip to the elite 8, their first since 2003.  85-82 Syracuse


Final Score: 84-71 Oklahoma


Posted on: March 21, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2009 2:20 pm

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils (NCAA)

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils 25-9 (11-7 Pac-10)


Arizona State Starting Lineup:

G Derrick Glasser Jr.

G Ty Abbott Soph.

G James Harden Soph.

G/F Rihards Kuksiks Soph.

F Jeff Pendergraph Sr.


Key Bench Players:

G Jamelle McMillan Soph.

G Jerren Shipp Jr.

C Eric Boateng Jr.


Previous Game:  In the first round of the tournament Arizona State defeated the Temple Owls 66-57.  Veteren Jeff Pendergraph led Arizona State with 22 points and 7 rebounds, point guard Derrick Glasser had a career high 22 points shooting 6 for 8 from the field.  All American James Harden was shut down as he shot just 1-8 from the field and had only 9 points, 11 off his average.


Game Preview:  Friday Syracuse got its first tournament win since 2004.  Now that that's out of the way Syracuse is looking to make a run to the Motor City.  In their way, the Arizona State Sun Devils led by All American guard James Harden.  Harden is averaging 20 points per game on the season along with 5 assists.  Syracuse will need to key on him because he can create, dish and score and if he gets off it will be a long day.  Arizona State, like the Orange, lost in their Conference Tournament Championship.  ASU lost to a hot USC team in the title game, one of the reasons for the loss was foul trouble, a common thread in all of ASU's losses.  In all 9 of ASU's losses James Harden, Jeff Pendergraph or both have had 4 or more fouls.  Having your two best players in foul trouble is never good, but couple that with the fact that ASU really only has Pendergraph in the post and it makes for a rough outing.  If Syracuse can get the ball inside to Onuaku, Jackson and hopefully a healthy Ongenaut, and get Pendergraph in early foul trouble it will force ASU to go small or put in their raw center Eric Boateng, which is a huge advantage to Cuse.  On the offensive end, Syracuse arguably had their worst shooting game of the season against Stephen F. Austin, they shot 45% overall but from 3 point range Cuse was just 2/16 or 12.5%.  It is unlikey Cuse will have two games in a row with shooting like that, especially against a zone defense like ASU's.  Syracuse should go inside out against Arizona States' zone, dump the ball in to Onuaku and Jackson to work Pendergraph then kick it out for the open three.  On defense Cuse, Onuaku and Jackson specifically, needs to guard the middle of the 2-3, as Pendergraph will be stationed at the high post looking for that easy 14-16 foot jumpshot.  If he doesn't get that he'll look to kick it to the many ASU shooters.  Harden has made 57 3's (36%), Kuksiks 85 (44%), Glasser 41 (41%), Abbott 38 (26%), McMillan 31 (36%) and Shipp 14 (32%).  At least 3 of these guys will be on the court at any time and even though Syracuse is top 5 in the nation in FG% defense will they be able to cover all these shooters in the 2-3 zone?  Or will they be forced into man?


My Prediction:  ASU has been good all season.  We all know James Harden is going to be a lottery pick and Flynn is right up there with him.  What this game comes down to is rather or not ASU can stop Onuaku, Jackson and a returning Ongenaut in the post and if Syracuse can hold down the the ASU shooters along with Harden.  ASU may come out a bit slow, as the tip is 10:10 a.m. their time, but it should be a relatively high scoring game as 3's rain down in Miami from both teams.  Onuaku, Jackson and Ongenaut eventually just overpower ASU and Cuse prevails 84-75.


Final Score: 78-67 Syracuse




Posted on: March 19, 2009 11:25 am
Edited on: March 20, 2009 2:09 pm

#13 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (NCAA)

#13 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 24-7 (13-3 Southland)


Stephen F. Austin Starting Lineup:

G Eric Bell Jr.

G Girod Adams Jr.

F Josh Alexander Sr.

F Nick Shaw Sr.

C Matt Kingsley Sr.


Key Bench Players:

G Eddie Williams Soph.

G Walt Harris Jr.

F Benson Akpan Sr.


Previous Game:  The 'Jacks of Stephen F. Austin defeated the Texas San-Antonio RoadRunners to win the Southland Conference Tournament by a score of 68-57.  Matt Kingsley led the 'Jacks with 20 points and 6 rebounds.  Josh Alexander and Eddie Williams each chipped in with 16 points.


Game Preview:  Syracuse is finally back in the NCAA Tournament after a 2 season hiatus.  Although, 2 years is nothing compared to actually never being in the tournament, like Stephen F. Austin.  This is SFA's first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and also the first for their Head Coach Danny Kaspar, compared to 24 appearances for Jim Boeheim.  That is one of the big reasons as to why Syracuse should easily win this one.  That along with the fact that Syracuse is one of the hottest teams in the Tournament.  Winning 8 straight by an average of 20+ before losing to Louisville in the Big East Tournament Championship because of fatigue.  That issue of fatigue has been brought up many times over the past week as analyst after analyst questions the legs of the Syracuse's players.  "I'm only 20-years-old, I'm young," Flynn said. "We're used to playing basketball all the time back home."  So fatigue should not be a factor after a full 5 days of rest.  For SFA to try to wear down Cuse they need to play their hard nosed defense they have played all season.  SFA ranks 2nd in the country in opponents points per game and allows offenses to shoot just 37.2%  from the field.  They haven't played an offensive juggernaut like Syracuse though.  Syracuse shoots 48.8% form the field, thanks mostly to Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku who both shoot over 62% from the field.  Cuse also averages 81 ppg, tops in the Big East and top 5 in the nation.  If Syracuse even has a below average day on offense it is still better than most teams.  The question is on the defensive side of the ball.  Lately, Syracuse has been great in their 2-3 zone, forcing TO's, bad shots and giving opposing teams offensive fits.  It will be interesting to see how SFA scores the ball.  The 2-3 will take away 6 foot 9" star center Matt Kingsley down in the low post, and SFA only shoots 31% from 3 on the season so they make knock down a couple long range shots but not as much as they would need to win.  5 foot 3" point Eric Bell will not be so eager to go into the teeth of the 2-3, and if SFA wants to try to beat Cuse down the floor they will turn it into a run and gun type of game, which is not their style.  Look for SFA to try and lull Syracuse to sleep with long offensive possesions and then try to get a good shot with under 15 seconds to go in the shot clock.


My Prediction:  Matt Kingsley is a great player for Stephen F. Austin, so is Josh Alexander, but Syracuse is bigger at literally every position.  They have been battle tested and they have a coach who has more experience than anyone in the South Region.  Syracuse will not be fatigued and they will run away with this first round game.  77-57 Syracuse.


Final Score: 59-44 Syracuse




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