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Thursday, March 22, 2007

3/23/07 - Sweet 16 Preview Day 2

Can the 2nd day of Sweet 16 games possibly live up to the excitement provided last night? For those of you who have been looking for a Cinderella, you have two of them to cheer for tonight. Butler is a major underdog against Florida, and UNLV is the lowest seeded team left in the Tournament. Let's take a look at tonight's action and what to expect.

Butler vs. Florida 6:10 PM

The first game tonight has a good chance of being a bit lopsided. On paper, you have the defending National Champions against the 2nd place team from the Horizon League. Butler has gotten here by beating Old Dominion in the 1st round and then upsetting 4-seed Maryland in the 2nd round. These are the same Bulldogs who defeated Purdue earlier this season, a team that gave Florida all it could handle last weekend. Butler plays solid defense and commits the least amount of turnovers per game than anyone in the nation. If the Bulldogs can make some early 3's and keep this game close at halftime, we could be in for another barn burner. With that being said, I look for the Gator's interior offense and athleticism to be too much for Butler.
Prediction: Florida 70 Butler 59

Vanderbilt vs. Georgetown 6:27 PM

Georgetown is possibly the most balanced team left in the field. The Hoyas are very efficient on offense, add in you trademark Georgetown defense, and make the Hoyas my pick to cut the nets down in Atlanta. Vanderbilt is a team that has lived and died by the three-pointer this season, and so far in this Tournament, Vandy has been living nicely. The Commodores take over 40% of their shots from behind the 3-point line. Georgetown showed me in their Big East Tournament run that they can win with an uptempo game (vs. Notre Dame) or a slower defensive battle (vs. Pittsburgh). I'd be stunned if the Hoyas do not advance to the Elite 8, and probably even further.
Prediction: Georgetown 68 Vanderbilt 61

UNLV vs. Oregon 8:40 PM

UNLV, the lone Cinderella in this year's Sweet 16 field, looked very impressive in their 2nd round upset of Wisconsin. The Runnin' Rebels are going to need more hot shooting tonight to pull off another shocker against 3-seed Oregon. The Duck's defense and rebounding, or lack thereof, has been their Achilles' heel all season long. If UNLV can shoot the 3 like they did against the Badgers, 10 for 20, this game will be close. Oregon likes to run and will be looking to keep the Rebels running tonight. The faster the pace of this game, the more advantage it will be for the Ducks.
Prediction: Oregon 73 UNLV 65

USC vs. North Carolina 8:57 PM

Led by Junior Nick Young, USC enters tonight's game against 1-seed UNC off two very impressive victories. The Trojan's are the best defensive team in the Pac-10 without UCLA written across the front of their uniforms. They will need that defense against a very efficient North Carolina offense. The Heels will also capitalize on USC's inability to rebound consistently and hang on to the ball, the Trojan's average 15 turnovers a game. The pace of this game will be very uptempo and exactly how UNC coach Roy Williams will like it. This should be a fun one to watch, especially if you are wearing Carolina Blue.
Prediction: North Carolina 82 USC 70

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