Saturday, March 29, 2008

Elite 8: Halfway to History

Well my picks for today were both sunk, though I was very careful not to back them too hard.

UCLA vs. Xavier was just ridiculous. I can't imagine anyone but die-hard UCLA fans and delusional Xavier fans actually watched that entire game. UCLA was up by 20 points for the majority of this game. Biggest stat in this game as far as I'm concerned is one relating to the guard play of Xavier. UCLA forced Lavender/Burrell/Raymond/Jackson into this: a combined total of 95 minutes played, 18 points scored, on 6 of 24 (25%) shooting. Ick.

Far more compelling was the Louisville-UNC tilt. Louisville was down by ten at the half, but stormed back and kept the game super close until the final minutes. The 10 point margin is somewhat misleading. Tyler Hansbrough, of all people hit big jumpshots late (15-20 footers) to help seal this win when it looked like Louisville might take it away. Hansbrough had some help from the officials, considering his spazzy defense, which included at least one uncalled over the back, kept in the game when he should have been maybe sitting with four fouls or out entirely. The swallowed whistle made all the difference in the world, as no one else on UNC was getting anything done against Louisville's tough, tough defense for a good chunk of the second half. Kudos, by the by for both Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas for sneaking in the term "reach-around" to describe one called foul of Hansbrough. I thought they were called reach-ins. Reach-arounds are some altogether different, Dick Enberg. It would appear that Tyler likes to forcibly give reach-around. Sick fuck.

But Here's the Halfway to History mentioned at the top of the post--we've got two #1's advancing to the Final Four. Could we have all four #1 Seeds advance to the Final Four, for the first time since the tournament expanded to 64? That depends on Sunday's games.

(That's called a segue people, and it was beautifully done.)

The early game is the most likely game to decide that. We've got Memphis vs. Texas. Texas has looked damned impressive so far, and Memphis, their last game notwithstanding, hasn't been the dominant #1 that people were expecting. Memphis is the only team that actually has to face the #2 in their bracket, as well. I think Memphis will win this game, but I won't be shocked if Texas pulls it out. Augustin, Abrams, Atcheley and the rest of the Longhorns have played beyond their years; Memphis has the experience, but then again, as young as Texas is, they've been here before, too. I hate to pin a game on just a couple of folks, but if Memphis wins this game, they'll need stellar play from their freshman Rose and from hard to handle Chris Douglas-Roberts.

The later game, Davidson vs Kansas should be a game Kansas wins handily. I'm not discounting the Davidson squad--they destroyed, absolutely wrecked Wisconsin. But they did need huge comebacks to beat Georgetown and even their first round opponent Gonzaga. Kansas is a team that has been here before, almost all of their players, and they won't take their foot off the pedal just because they are up double-digits in the first half, like Georgetown did. Like Georgetown, Kansas has 3 or 4 quick, big guards that can limit Stephen Curry, and big men to throw draw fouls from the "big" men of Davidson. If the game is all close, I'd take Davidson. I don't think it will be close. Kansas wins in an UCLA like romp.

And just like that, history. All Four #1 seeds advance to the the Final Four.

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