Game 1 Saturday, Memphis vs. Ohio State. There will be, correctly, a lot of talk about how Oden was out of the game and that's when Memphis went on its run. He came back, and influenced the game (and finished just a board short of a double-double). To me the key stat is this--Absolute Monster Joey Dorsey didn't even attempt a single shot. This is the guy that Memphis has been dumping it down low to all year long, and he's responded with big dunks, and putbacks, and getting fouled, and the sort of stuff that generates 10 points a game. Ohio State held Joey Dorsey to 0 points on 0 FG attempts, and 0-2 on Free Throws. Dorsey didn't foul out, though. He finished the game with four fouls, which means to me that he wasn't used enough. I still think its better to have a player foul out than to lose and have him have 4 fouls. Not that he would have changed the game--just a pet peeve of mine (that I share with Salon's King Kaufman, who you should be reading, by the by).
I thought Dorsey would be more of a factor. I thought Douglas-Roberts would play for than 24 minutes. And hey, for all the love Ohio State's freshman are getting, we should consider senior guard Ron Lewis, who only hit the game winning shot against Xavier in the first round, and was the leading scorer in this game for the Buckeyes. The AP has said he has had a "solid" tournament. I'd say he might be the tournament MVP at this point.
Game 2: UCLA vs Kansas. This was the one game in the Elite 8 in which I wanted to see the #1 seed win. It didn't happen. UCLA and Kansas both showed impressive defense, but as UCLA took a lead into the second half, it seemed that Kansas pressed to hard to score, and took a lot, a lot, a lot of questionable shots. I'm not a basketball player, but I understand team games, and I know that you should look for the easy passes. Kansas' players seemed intent on making the tough play, and against a defense as organized as UCLA, that was a bad idea. I don't know about you, dear reader, but when UCLA was up by 6 points with 3 minutes left, it felt to me that it was all over. I don't know if Kansas can possibly hold onto this backcourt, but if they do, watch out for them next year. Brandon Rush and his quality old-school haircut may be a lottery draft pick, though.
Predictions for Sunday (Why shouldn't you listen to me? I've been wrong so far, sure, but that doesn't mean I won't get these games wrong).
UNC-Georgetown--Both of these teams looked vulnerable in their Sweet 16 games (and that's putting it mildly in G-Town's case). But I think the Hoyas match up well with UNC. The Tarheels don't have the height that G-Town has. And unlike some of the other teams that G-Town has dealt with, UNC's best big men aren't speedy enough to get Hibbert in foul trouble. Tyler Hansborough has been running rampant this year, but he's never played against a Hibbert/Green combo. UNC is young, and G-Town is old, for the most part.
Player to Watch: Patrick Ewing, Jr. His game is totally unlike his dad's. If he's being his 6'8" athletic, quick to loose balls self, he may be the difference in this game.
Florida-Oregon--Clearly, Florida is the obvious favorite. Both teams love to run, and Florida's big men are quicker (and more annoying) than most big men. Oregon will have to have the kind of day shooting they had in the Pac-10 final, where their little star didn't miss a shot. Florida should be, and is, the favorite in this game. Oregon will have to be perfect to beat this Florida squad.
Player to watch: Corey Brewer. I think its safe to assume that the Big Men for Florida will have reasonably good games. I think it is safe to say that the guards of Oregon may outplay Florida's guards (Taureen Green is a baller, but Humphrey contributes nothing if he's well guarded). So who on Oregon can defend Corey Brewer, a long, rangy, savvy small forward? I don't know if anyone can. Brewer tends to disappear in some games, but if he asserts himself, Florida might not just win, but blow the game out.