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Sweet 16 Preview Atlanta Region

2006 March Madness Atlanta Region Sweet 16 Preview

NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 ATLANTA MATCH-UPS:

LSU TIGERS Vs DUKE BLUE DEVILS

LSU TIGERS: The fourth seed Tigers found themselves in the Second Round in a heated, nose-to-nose battle against the twelfth seed Texas A&M Aggies. At the half, it was 29 all and with 3.9 seconds left in the game, the Tigers Darrel Mitchell hit a three to win the contest by one point, 58-57. The fact is the Aggies either matched LSU or outplayed them in every area except two— opportunities at the charity line and conversions from that same spot. Texas had 12 shots and sank 7 (58.3%), while LSU earned 23 tries and hit 18 (78.3%). The Tigers knocked down only 35.2% and converted 16.7% of their 3-pointers. LSU sophomore forward Glen Davis was a force in the game with a double-double-- 21 points and 12 rebounds. (The good news is LSU was solid at the foul line and when the game was on the line found a way to win. The Tigers are about to go against Duke, the number one seed in the tournament. Duke has been playing disciplined ball and intimidating “D.” LSU will really need to step it up in this match-up, especially when shooting from the court.)

DUKE BLUE DEVILS: Overall, the Blue Devils have looked sound, playing strong defense, passing to find the open shot, and taking it inside, often earning the foul. They shot 37 free throws and knocked down 26 against their latest opponent, the George Washington Colonials, who they beat easily 71-64. They scored an equal amount of points each half. Both Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts had a double-double in points and rebounds, while J.J. Redick kicked in 20 points from inside and outside the 3-point line. (Coach K has to be very happy with his “team” effort. The Blue Devils are most effective when they play as a team and aren’t depending upon their talented and skilled point guard to carry them through a game. Last round it looked as if Pittsburgh would be unstoppable and then they were stopped. Duke has to not only show-up for every game, but they must realize that they are wearing a big target that says, “Go ahead, try and beat me.” Every team will give it their best shot and, as they do, wear them down just a little bit more.)

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS Vs TEXAS LONGHORNS

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS: The Mountaineers had a well-balanced attack against the Northwestern State Demons, burying them 67-54 in round two. The sixth seed Mountaineers dominated from the beginning, going into the locker room with a 41-19 lead. The fourteenth seed Demons had a chance to make a comeback as the hot shooting Mountaineers (54% in the first half) went cold, finishing with a 39% field goal rate for the game. However, West Virginia shot 72% from the free throw line (24-33), while their opponents put in 58% (6-11). Like so many teams in the Second Round, the Mountaineers exploited disciplined play and free throws to their fullest, making far fewer fouls than they drew. (West Virginia is about to meet second seed Texas, a team that can hit from just about anywhere on the court. Any team can go cold but doing so at the Regional Semi-Finals can be disastrous. The Mountaineers are about to meet the best team they’ve seen since the tournament started; they’ll have all they can do to keep up from downtown, inside, and at the free throw stripe. Senior center Kevin Pittsnogle needs to step up as he has in the first two contests but so does the entire team.)

TEXAS LONGHORNS: This team from Texas mixes it up inside, can find the open shot, draw the foul, and hit the three-pointer. Junior forward P.J. Tucker has had a double-double in rebounds and points each of the first two games, while sophomore forward LaMarcus Aldridge earned the same in game one and came close to double figures in both categories in game two. Along with a competent and powerful starting five, the Longhorns possess a dependable bench. They’ve also been careful to not foul, which is always helpful in the tournament. The N.C. State Wolfpack played them close for the first half, but the Longhorns turned it on in the second half, easily winning 75-54. (The Texas Longhorns are a tough second seed. They’re not just a good team; they know how to exploit their many strengths; they play with maturity and smarts. They are one of only two number 2 seeds left in the tournament and the only one to be playing like a two seed. If they play their game, they will be almost impossible to beat.)


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