|A look at the matchups for the regional semifinals|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 25 March 2008 09:39|
At Charlotte, N.C.
North Carolina (1) vs. Washington State (4)
Something has to give.
North Carolina, second in the nation in scoring at 89.9 points per game, became the first team since Loyola Marymount in 1990 to break the 100 mark in its first two games. Washington State, second in the nation in defense allowing 56.1 points per game, allowed a total of 81 points in its first two games, one of the lowest figures in the shot clock era.
The Tar Heels want to get out and run. The Cougars want to get the pace their way with patience and disruption. This is the classic offense-defense matchup but the biggest difference could be location. The game is being played just a few hours from the North Carolina campus.
Tennessee (2) vs. Louisville (3)
Tennessee struggled for most of its opener against American and then needed overtime to beat Butler. The Volunteers went a combined 11-for-38 from 3-point range. Louisville shot 59 percent in an easy second-round win over Oklahoma but it was the Cardinals' defense that was most impressive, especially on the perimeter - 9-for-35 from 3-point range - and in forcing a total of 35 turnovers.
Both teams look good when they're running but both can get physical up front so this might not be the high-scoring game most people expect.
UCLA (1) vs. Western Kentucky (12)
M in the second round as Kevin Love and Darren Collison combined for 40 of their 53 points and made every big play down the stretch. Western Kentucky had the signature moment of the first round - Ty Rogers' 26-footer at the overtime buzzer against Drake - and also lost double-figure leads in both wins.
UCLA's late-season run of close games with controversial calls hasn't hurt its perception of regional favorite.
Xavier (3) vs. West Virginia (7)
These teams have almost identical profiles as far as offense, defense and depth. The one advantage may be Xavier's experience in the tournament and the fact the Musketeers still harbor the disappointment of last year's second-round loss to Ohio State where they blew a big lead late, something they did again in the second round against Purdue.
West Virginia beat two schools with impressive NCAA resumes in the first two rounds - Arizona and Duke - and the Mountaineers held them to a combined 11-for-37 from 3-point range. Still, they have to make sure Joe Alexander gets his share of shots which seems to open things up for others.
Kansas (1) vs. Villanova (12)
Usually a No. 1 seed has a big break getting a 12 in the third round but Villanova is far from a typical team from that line. The Wildcats come from a power conference and have faced a number of quality teams. They will rely heavily on sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds who averaged 23 points and six rebounds in the two tournament wins.
The Jayhawks had two easy wins because of their defense, but its their size that will give Villanova problems. Kansas outrebounds opponents by almost eight a game, while the Wildcats only average 2.8 more.
Wisconsin (3) vs. Davidson (10)
Wisconsin is the top defensive team in the country, allowing 53.9 points per game and neither Cal State Fullerton nor Kansas State reached 60 in the first two rounds. Neither of those teams had Stephen Curry. The Wildcats rode the sophomore guard to the round of 16 on two of the most impressive second halves seen in the tournament in a long time.
Georgetown is one of the top defensive teams in the country yet the Hoyas had no way to stop Curry as they lost all of a 17-point lead. Davidson is effective with its subtle defensive pressure which forced Georgetown into 20 turnovers. Curry will have to have a third great performance to keep the nation's longest winning streak alive.
Memphis (1) vs. Michigan State (5)
Since Memphis lost just one game this season there isn't a lot to go on about how to beat the Tigers. A good guess would be physical play and keeping it close so free throw shooting becomes a factor. For all the gaudy numbers Memphis puts up it's tough to ignore 59 percent shooting from the line and the Tigers were 22-for-35 and 15-for-32 in their two tournament games.
Michigan State won a physical matchup with Pittsburgh in the second round and found its much needed third scorer in freshman guard Kalin Lucas, who had 19 points in that win. The Spartans are always one of the best rebounding teams in the country and they had a comfortable edge in both wins. Tom Izzo, one of the best NCAA tournament coaches of this generation, is a master of getting teams ready for physical games.
Texas (2) vs. Stanford (3)
This is another matchup where the stats are almost identical but each team's strength is at a different part of the court.
The Longhorns, who will have a decided advantage playing in their home state, have one of the best point guards in the country in D.J. Augustin, who averages 19 points a game, and his backcourt partner, A.J. Abrams has started to come out of his shooting slump. However, the numbers that are scary from the second-round win over Miami is that Texas shot better from 3-point range (13-for-26) than the free throw line (12-for-21).
Stanford can expect coach Trent Johnson to be around the whole game after he was ejected in the first half of the overtime win against Marquette. The 7-foot Lopez twins have become as dominant frontcourt duo as there is in the country but Brook Lopez has been the standout. His game-winning shot against the Golden Eagles may not have been as dramatic as some of the long jumpers others hit, but the degree of difficulty was off the charts.