Good Friday

So I wasn’t so hot on Thursday’s games in my preview going 2-2. But you know? I didn’t officially fill out a bracket, so I’m not getting too stressed out on the outcome of those games. It’s kind of nice. But one game I do care about is that big S-U win over Maryland. N-I-T Elite 8 baby… Anyway, here are my top 5 games for Friday’s NCAA action:

5) #13 san-diego.gif vs. #4 connecticut_logo_2003.gif

3:00 West Region

I’m very curious to see how this San Diego fares in the NCAA tournament after its bubble bursting run to the WCC tournament. If they play like they did in the tournament, then they might have a shot at beating Connecticut. The Toreros have a good outside/inside combination with Brandon Johnson (16.9 ppg) on the outside and Gyno Pomare on the inside (13.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg). But we know that Pomare will have his work cut out for him with UCONN’s Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien. Thabeet averages 4.5 blocks per game and can really be a difference maker inside. In the end, Connecticut might have too much length and athleticism for the Toreros. Also, don’t forget about the Huskies point guard, A.J. Price. He might be one of the best point guards in the country.

My Winner – connecticut_logo_2003.gif

4) #11 saint-josephs.gif vs. #6 oklahoma.gif

7:10 East Region

One of everybody’s favorite upset picks. Saint Joseph’s is coming off of two great wins over Xavier in the last week and a half. I saw this team play very early in the season at Syracuse and they are deep and experienced. Senior Pat Calathes leads the charge with over 17 points a game and 7 rebounds a game and he can do it on the inside as well as the outside. He shoots over 40% from the three-point line and while he floats out there, Ahmad Nivins takes care of business on the inside averaging over 14 points a game. Those two should be fun to watch against the Sooner’s combination of Blake Griffin and Longar Longar. Griffin is a handful inside, averaging 15 points a game and over 9 rebounds per game. This matchup should be an interesting one.

My winner – saint-josephs.gif

3) #10 davidson.gif vs.#7 gonzaga.gif

12:25 Midwest Region

Another upset pick everybody is loving in Davidson. Remember when Gonzaga was everybody’s trendy pick to pull off upsets and make a Cinderella run in the tournament. Well this year, Gonzaga is the favorite being hunted by everybody’s trendy pick in Davidson. I don’t question the talent of Davidson, but I do question the experience and ability of the Wildcats. They don’t have a win over a team in the RPI top 100, so I question their ability to pull out a close win over a quality opponents. We all know that Stepehen Curry is a great player for Davidson that can absolutely light it up from the outside. He shoots about 44% from the three point arc and he averages just over 25 points per game. A big key for Gonzaga will be the play of WCC Conference Player of the Year, Jeremy Pargo. Pargo is a great creator that can also score and knows how to play defense and the burden of slowing down Curry will mostly fall on Pargo.

My Winner – gonzaga.gif

2) #9 arkansas.gif vs. #8 indiana.gif

9:40 East Region

To me, this game is so intriguing because I think Indiana is a very talented and dangerous team, but after that pig Sampson got fired, they haven’t been playing like it. They are led by the Big Ten Player of the Year, D.J. White and freshman sensation Eric Gordon. Gordon led the team in scoring with over 21 points per game and White was second on the team with over 17 points a game and led the entire Big Ten in rebounding at 10.4 rpg. However, the Razorbacks answer with two studs of their own in Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverley. The Razorbacks are one of the more versatile and athletic teams in the nation as five players average more than nine points a game. Will the Hoosiers be able to salvage their season?

My Winner – indiana.gif

1) #10 south-bama.gif vs. #7 butler.gif

2:45 East Region

I really got into this game more after interviewing Daon Merritt. You can hear that interview here. But this game is interesting because Butler is the 10th ranked team in the nation, but find themselves as a seven seed in the tournament against an exciting, efficient and dangerous South Alabama team. The Jaguars are led by star senior Demetric Bennett who averages over 20 points a game. He’s the lone holdover from the 2006 Sun Belt Champions and he has had to mesh with a bunch of transfers. Cincinnati transfer Domonic Tilford loves to shoot 3’s and Merritt (11.5 ppg, 5.6 apg), a Richmond transfer, runs the offense. This team has a true star that can carry them on his back in Bennett and several great complements which can make them a team that could pull off an upset. However, Butler is a team that also knows how to win in the tournament. The great backcourt combo of A.J. Graves and Mike Green (14.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.1 apg) are back from last years Sweet 16 run. However, the one player that makes them more dangerous this year is freshman Matt Howard (12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg). He gives Butler the inside presence that it sorely lacked last year. Last year, Butler was a five seed and made it all the way to the sweet 16 before losing to eventual champion Florida. This year, a better Bulldog team is a 7 seed, adding extra motivation to an already dangerous team.

My Winner – butler.gif

Look for my Friday recap and Saturday preview tomorrow night.

Enjoy the Games

Aneesh

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