Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Saturday, March 25, 2006

No. 1 with a Bullet (Dodged)

Another outstanding night of college hoops. Some recaps and then predictions for the Elite Eight.

Heroes of the Day: Randy Foye, Villanova, and Rashad Anderson, Connecticut. Foye was the only Villanova player on his game Friday night, and his shooting and fearlessness helped lift the Wildcats out of holes time and again. As great as Marcus Williams was for UConn (again), face it: Anderson's two late 3s are the only reason we're still talking about the Huskies as a title contender.

Goats of the Day: The officials. While both No. 1 seeds showed some grit and determination to come back, they both had a lot of help from the officials. The phantom traveling call on BC's Sean Williams, the non-goaltending call on Hilton Armstrong, and undeniably the worst call of the night -- the double technical on Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay in the Washington-UConn game. The referees had lost control of the game, and decided to make a point by T-ing up each team's best player for a STAREDOWN? As opposed to say, warning both players and both benches about the level of play first? Gutless. Absolutely gutless.

Game of the Day: While BC-Villanova looked like a 15-round fight between two boxers holding on to each other, UConn-Washington was a track meet where neither team could hold on to the baton. This has become the tournament where athleticism at all positions is winning out. When you look at the quality of the teams left -- Florida, LSU, Texas, Memphis -- they have people who can run the floor, jump and control their bodies exquisitely. The two Huskies showed that as well.

Conference Roundup: The SEC and Big East each send two teams to the Elite Eight, joining one team each from the Big 12, Conference USA, Pac 10 and the Colonial. That's right, Billy Packer. Colonial Athletic Association: one, ACC 0.

Player to Watch: Folarin Campbell, George Mason. Campbell came out hot Friday night for the Patriots, and if Mason is going to have any chance against UConn, Campbell will have to be firing 3s again. The game, played in Washington, D.C., will features seven of 10 starters from Maryland -- all five Patriots and the Huskies' Josh Boone and Gay.

Game to Watch: Villanova-Florida. Look out for the Gators, who are playing with the same gusto that took them to the finals in 2000. Villanova has narrowly escaped against a team with great speed (Arizona) and a team with great size (Boston College). Now they face a team with both.

Elite Eight Predictions (games in chronological order)

Texas over LSU -- Not discounting what the Tigers did against Duke, but Texas has far more quickness and size on the perimeter. Daniel Gibson and P.J. Tucker will be able to get their shot off when J.J. Redick couldn't. A key for Texas is senior Brad Buckman, who sat much of the second half against West Virginia because of the Mountaineers' small lineup. The 'Horns will need Buckman's size and toughness against a freakishly good Tigers frontline.

Memphis over UCLA -- The Tigers have just been playing too well. Granted, they haven't beaten anyone better than a No. 9 seed, but look at the struggles that UConn has had against teams seeded 16, 8 and 5. Memphis is taking the game right to its opponents, rather than waiting for the opportunity to present itself. Arron Afflalo against Rodney Carney is the key matchup, with Afflalo's defense trying to tame Carney's explosiveness.

Connecticut over George Mason -- Well, so much for that easy game I was talking about for the Huskies against Washington. After surviving that one, the 11th-seeded Patriots seem like easy fodder. But nothing seems to come easy for enormously talented UConn, and they'll make this game much closer than it appears on paper. At some point, Mason's going to play as if they're just happy to be here. Aren't they?

Florida over Villanova -- The Gators have a chance for revenge against the team that knocked them out of the tournament last year. Villanova had an awful time containing Arizona's Marcus Williams and Boston College's Sean Williams, two long, quick forwards. Meet Joakim Noah, who's better and more polished than both of them. The 'Nova frontline has done an admirable job against bigger teams all year, but Florida has more weapons and is one of the few clubs with team speed to match that of the Wildcats.



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