Sweet 16 Preview Oakland Region
2006 March Madness Oakland Region Sweet 16 Preview
NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 OAKLAND MATCH-UPS:
BRADLEY BRAVES Vs MEMPHIS TIGERS
BRADLEY BRAVES: The thirteenth seed Bradley Braves proved that they are for real by defeating the talented and red-hot fifth seed Pittsburgh Panthers, 72-66, in the Second Round. The Panthers shot only 41% from the court but were near perfect from the foul line (10-11). Although the Braves only hit 37.3% from the floor, their defense was tough, making 8 steals and forcing 14 turnovers. But the clincher for Bradley was how many times they shot from the foul line—32. They converted 26 of those shots, outscoring Pittsburgh from the charity stripe at a rate of 2.6 to 1. Bradley’s sophomore center Patrick O’Bryant displayed both athleticism and maturity against the Panthers; he was 10-17 from the floor, snagged 7 rebounds, and knocked in 7 of 8 from the free throw line. (The team is playing well and individuals are stepping up. They’ve met two tough challenges already in fourth seed Kansas and fifth seed Pittsburgh. Memphis is another mountain for this team to scale, but if they can continue to play with the poise, quickness, and determination they have in the first two rounds, the Braves can climb to the next elite elevation.)
MEMPHIS TIGERS: Number one seed? Memphis is sure playing like one, having no trouble in the first two rounds with sixteenth seed Oral Roberts (94-78) and ninth seed Bucknell (72-56). The Tigers are a solid shooting team that plays tenacious defense. They can swipe the ball, grab it off the boards, and make teams turn it over. If they have one apparent weakness, it’s their penchant for committing more fouls than their opponents. This can be a team’s undoing, especially as they get deeper into the tournament and the competition gets more heated. They have a well balanced attack, spreading the scoring out amongst six to seven players, which makes them difficult to defend. (The Braves will be the first real challenge in the tournament for Memphis. All things being equal, the Tigers should win by about 10 points, but there is the foul problem, which has the potential of adding a good 10 points to Bradley’s score. The Tigers have to defend well but not over play the ball or the opposing players. They don’t want to hand an opportunistic team like the Braves any sort of advantage. Play the cleanest, crispest game they possibly can; if they do that, it’ll be good prep for the Elite Eight. If they fail in that area, they may be watching Bradley take the court on the weekend.)
GONZAGA BULLDOGS Vs UCLA BRUINS
GONZAGA BULLDOGS: Here comes the third seed Gonzaga Bulldogs, determined to continue winning. Heading into the Sweet Sixteen, the Zags look very strong. Against their Second Round opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers, Gonzaga played a very disciplined game, making nine steals, only committing seven turnovers, and sending the Hoosiers to the free throw line for a mere four shots. That’s an efficient defense. They also hit 78% from the charity stripe (32-41). Against Indiana six Zags were in double figures, including senior swingman J.P. Batista who led the team in scoring with 20 and junior forward Sean Mallon who threw in 15 and took down 10 rebounds. Junior forward Adam Morrison had an off game, scoring only 14 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. They beat Indiana by a mark of 90-80. (The Bulldogs are howling to beat anyone they meet. Last game, they had a tough time hitting threes. They adjusted and went inside with no problem. If they can continue to keep opponents off the free throw line and knock down free throws at a 78% rate, this team, with its balanced attack, will be very tough to keep out of the Elite Eight.
UCLA BRUINS: A lot of people questioned UCLA’s garnering a second seed in the national tournament, and with a tenuous Second Round win, those questioning seem to have been appropriate. Against tenth seed Alabama, the Bruins were out rebounded, matched on defense, and drawn into too many fouls. At halftime, the Crimson Tide and UCLA were tied 30-30. The game came down to the final three seconds, where Alabama missed a three-pointer and UCLA iced the game with a free throw. UCLA shot less than 38% from the free throw line. The team’s scoring against Alabama came from primarily three players—Arron Afflalo, Ryan Hollins, and Jordan Farmar. It was a close call. (A well-oiled Gonzaga machine will challenge UCLA. Can the Bruins match the Zags player for player? Probably not. They’ll need to be a lot more careful with their fouls and much more efficient at the foul line. They have good shooters but can they keep up as a team with the Bulldogs? That’s one heck of a challenge.)
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