Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Thursday Games I'll Be Keeping An Eye On

Dear Kari and Tin Canners:

Pacific vs. Pittsburgh is an 8/9 game. Pacific rampaged through the Big West but lost in the finals of the post-season tournament to Utah State. It will be a good test for a strong mid-major to fight it out against a middle-of-the-road power conference team. Speaking of Utah State, they will face Arizona in a 3/14 game. Utah State runs a disciplined offense and will try to slow down the high speed Wildcats. If you see a half-time score in the high 20s or low 30s, Arizona could be in trouble.

Another 8/9 game of interest is Texas vs. Nevada. Again, a match up of a mid-major versus a mid-level power conference team. I'm calling for the upset here!

Boston College has struggled of late and I'm wondering if the Ivy League will have its 15 minutes of fame when the Penn Quakers pull off a shocker. Not expecting it but would sure be thrilled to see one of the powerhouses go down!

And of course, I'm going to be planted in front of a TV for TTech vs. UCLA. To be honest, I thought UCLA at best was going to be a .500 team. Thus, in this regard, they have exceeded expectations.

Can they win tomorrow?

Yes, but probably not.

They have a bad habit of panicking and settling for the jump shot and before you know it they are down double digits and trying to play catch up the rest of the game. The first 5 minutes or so will be critical. If Farmar is running the team smartly, the Bruins are in business. But if he is wild and turning over the ball, they will be done. The key shooter to watch is Dijon Thompson. He is very streaky. If he starts slow, he struggles to even score 10 points in the whole game. If he hits a few early, he can score 20+ for the whole game. Look for Bobby Knight to put his best defender on Thompson.

Another thing to watch for is whether UCLA can get some production out of Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins, their two 7-footers. If they actually do something on offense then things open up for the perimeter guys and at that point I think UCLA may even win easily.

This Bruin can hope, eh?

How are Kansas fans feeling about their chances?

Be well,


Blogger Kari said...

It's hard to consider a 9-over-8 win an upset, as those two seeds are basically identical. Like you, I have Texas losing to Nevada in my bracket. Texas is probably overseeded, as the Longhorns are playing without their two best players (one became academically ineligible, the other went down with injuries). They have a very good freshman point guard, but they are not the team they could have been.

Kansas may be in some trouble, as Keith Langford is not expected to play Friday, or maybe even Sunday (assuming KU beats Bucknell). The Jayhawks are not especially deep this year, at any position. I still feel pretty good about them making the Sweet 16, but even though Wayne Simien is a great player, the 'Hawks may be outmanned if they have to face UConn.

I think UCLA has a shot against Texas Tech, but Bobby's team played very well during the Big 12 tournament -- very disciplined, with the exception of the first half of the championship game against Oklahoma State, when the Red Raiders uncharacteristically committed a bunch of turnovers. If the Bruins can get them to do that again, they can pull a mini-upset.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Rene said...

What can I say?

The better team won. Texas Tech's guards were just too strong for the two UCLA freshman guards. Dijon helped keep the Bruins in it but they were always on the edge of being blown out and finally late in the 2nd half when the lead finally got into double digits, I knew it was over.

There were several plays that were prime examples of the problems UCLA had this year: Fey going for dunk and missing and Hollins going for the dunk and missing and other occasions when they fumbled the ball after the entry pass. In the end they got 16 points between them but with the guards shut down, they had to step up bigger than that and they didn't.

Oh, well, considering at the beginning of the year, making the NCAA was kind of unlikely, fans in Westwood should be happy. Of course, now expectations rise for next year!

Meanwhile, Arizona was in trouble in the first half! But they settled down and took care of business in the second half. That seemed to be the story line in a lot of the games.

9:37 AM  

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