Thursday, March 26, 2009

Examining the Sweet 16: Nova v. Duke is can't miss basketball

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 7:19 PM

So, you've been punishing yourself with NIT basketball for the past four days. You're hungry. You're ready for meaningful matchups. Well, here you go. We're down to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

If you're like me, your bracket has gone to sh*t because you decided to pick upsets. And your office pool is being led by Katie in marketing who decided to pick the favorites and "cutest head coach" in every game. And wouldn't you know, the favorites have won almost every game. That and Villanova's Jay Wright is the Don Draper of NCAA skippers.

We have no chance to win our pool, unless the Lord our God steps down from his mighty cloud and heals Ty Lawson's toe. Needless to say, we're rooting for the Tar Heels.

Tonight's matchups feature likely the best game of the Sweet 16 ('Nova vs. Duke) and a No. 1 seed officially on upset alert (cough, UConn, cough). Enjoy:

#5 Purdue vs. #1 Connecticut (CBS 7:07 p.m. ET)

What makes this game interesting? UConn has stolen the award of "Biggest Distraction Entering the Field of 65" away from UNC. Lawson's toe was the big story. Now we're reading about Husky coach Jim Calhoun's health, the NCAA sniffing around a major recruiting violation and UConn center Hasheem Thabeet retiring from the game to focus on a career in badminton. OK, we made up that last one. But he'd be awesome at that. Keep an eye on Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, whose been one of the very best players in the early rounds.

#4 Xavier vs. #1 Pittsburgh (CBS 7:27 p.m. ET)

The Panthers have this problem with getting beyond the round of 16. They also looked very, very shaky in their first two games. Some have blamed matchups and a lack of ball handlers. We blame DeJaun Blair. Why? He was supposed to go to Tennessee (our school) but instead chose Pitt. Thems fightin' words. Look to Xavier to carry the torch for the midmajors.

#3 Missouri vs. #2 Memphis (CBS 9:37 p.m. ET)

Mizzou is fun to watch. The Show-Me-State Tigers run the floor and play viscous full-court defense. Memphis was likely the most up-and-down team in the first two rounds. With freshman point guard Tyreke Evans, the Beale Street Tigers have the talent to take down anyone and handle that pressure. That doesn't mean they will.

#3 Villanova vs. #2 Duke (CBS 9:57 p.m. ET)

I admit I have a man-crush on Jay Wright. He dresses like someone on Wall Street, just minus being covered in failure. I will also admit hating Coack K (Mike Krzyzewski). But regardless, I will tell you this is the game to watch of the Sweet 16. Duke typically struggles with teams that spread the floor. Villanova and point guard Scottie Reynolds do just that. However, the Blue Devils are rolling with Gerald Henderson and [insert generic good white guy here]. Either team is Final Four ready.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

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