Friends, allies and loyal readers. I must apologize for going all M.I.A. on you this week. My real job (which sucks in comparison to my fake job, this one) went off the wall this week and I have had very little free time. For that I am sorry, but I promise I will make it up to you all in the coming week.
Looking ahead to tonight, these teams have a lot to live up to. Last night’s games were pretty awesome. Let’s take a quick look at each game.
1 Ohio State vs. 4 Kentucky
There’s a common misconception going around. People seem to think that C Jared Sullinger is the reason the Buckeyes are so special. Well Sullinger is very good, but the reason the Buckeyes are as good as they are is their outside shooting. Guards Jon Diebler (50%, pictured above), William Buford (44.4%) and David Lighty (43.5%) are all excellent marksmen from outside the three-point line. That’s some serious firepower. It’s that shooting that makes it impossible for teams to collapse inside on Sullinger.
As you can see, Kentucky really has their hands full. But the Wildcats aren’t without hope. The best matchup from their end is probably F Terrance Jones against Ohio State’s Dallas Lauderdale. Jones is much more athletic than Lauderdale and has good touch out to the three-point line. He’s going to need a big game if Kentucky has any hope of winning this game. Ohio State would be smart to try either a four guard lineup with Lighty guarding Jones or give freshman Deshaun Thomas a shot at guarding him.
2 North Carolina vs. 11 Marquette
This game probably isn’t going to be the blowout that some are expecting. Marquette has two very solid players in G Darius Johnson-Odom (above) and F Jimmy Butler, both good scorers, and F Jae Crowder is an interesting frontcourt player who can step out and shoot from the perimeter. The Golden Eagles play good defense and should keep this game close.
The real key for Marquette will be keeping the Tar Heels out of transition, where they thrive, and making them run their halfcourt offense. I like the way Carolina matches up with Marquette on the defensive end, so if the Tar Heels are able to get out and run, and hit some outside shots, this could be a double-digit win for them.
1 Kansas vs. 12 Richmond
By all rights, this should be a blowout. The Jayhawks are bigger, faster and more talented than the Spiders. But as they say, that’s why games aren’t played on paper.
Kansas is going to give the Spiders lots of problems inside. The Morris twins (above) are powerful inside and can step outside as well. I also think sophomore Thomas Robinson doesn’t get nearly enough pub. He’s been very good late in the season. The Jayhawks’ perimeter players will determine if this is a blowout or not. If they play well, it could very well be a big win for Kansas.
Don’t count Richmond out just yet though. They have two outstanding players in G Kevin Anderson and F Justin Harper, and they have a bunch of other guys who can hit from outside as well. As we have seen, the three-point shot is the ultimate equalizer in college basketball. If the Spiders can put up big numbers from outside, they will probably have a chance in this game.
10 Florida State vs. 11 Virginia Commonwealth
This is the matchup that absolutely no one saw coming. And honestly, it’s a tough one to predict. Florida State is an excellent defensive team, we all know that. The big question is, can they put the ball in the basket? They didn’t have any problem doing that against Notre Dame last Sunday, but they’ve really struggled on offense most of the season. Senior G Derwin Kitchen (above) needs to run the offense and get his teammates good shots. Florida State has a ton of size and shouldn’t have trouble inside, but their perimeter players need to hit shots.
VCU has been hot, there’s no two ways about it. Joey Rodriguez and the other guards have played out of their minds in the tournament and F Jamie Skeen is very skilled inside and out. I really think this game comes down to who gets hot from the perimeter.