CBKB: Sizing up the South
By John Rowe
The Record (Hackensack N.J.)
Duke. A shaky nod to the Blue Devils, who have shown some wear and tear late in the season. This region potentially is a nightmare for chalk players. Second-seeded Villanova has cooled off from its quick start to the season, and fourth-seeded Purdue lost its best player, Robbie Hummel, to injury. Duke needs an emotional recharge to go deep into the tournament.
Old Dominion. The Colonial Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion won at Georgetown and more than held its own against others on their strong non-conference schedule. The Monarchs have won eight of their last nine games, and Gerald Lee, their 6-foot-10 center from Finland, averages 14.6 and 4.9 rebounds per game. Old Dominion limits opponents to 57.1 points and 40 percent shooting per game.
Villanova. If the second-seeded Wildcats are to reach the Final Four for a second consecutive season, they’ll probably have to beat Robert Morris, Richmond, and either Notre Dame or Baylor just to advance to the regional final. Coach Jay Wright has to be concerned about how the Wildcats faltered down the stretch. After a 22-2 start, Nova lost five of its last seven games, including a defeat in the Big East tournament.
Duke vs. Louisville. A potential second-round matchup, provided ninth-seeded Louisville gets by eighth-seeded California in the opening round. Duke has problems with physical teams and the Cardinals, with Samardo Samuels and others up front, can be as physical as any opponent the Blue Devils have faced. If erratic Edgar Sosa rediscovers his outside shooting touch, Louisville is capable of beating anybody.
Players to watch
Jon Scheyer, Duke; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova; LaceDariusDunn, Tweety Carter, Baylor; E’Twann Moore, Purdue; Donald Sloan, Texas A&M; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Jerome Randle, California; Samardo Samuels, Louisville; Alex Franklin, Siena.
Texas A&M. The fifth-seeded Aggies won five of six games before losing to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament and played a solid non-conference schedule that included wins over Clemson and Minnesota and a three-point loss at New Mexico. Texas A&M has a star player in Sloan, who averages 18.2 points per game. The Aggies turn over the ball only 12 times per game and could be the perfect spoiler.
Siena. The consensus is that this Siena squad isn’t as good as its last two NCAA teams, but Purdue is emotionally vulnerable after losing Hummel for the season, which cost them a possible No. 1 seed and legitimate run at the Final Four. If the Boilermakers are feeling sorry for themselves or they underestimate Siena’s penchant for playing well in the tournament, look out.
On to the Sweet 16
Duke, Villanova, Texas A&M, Old Dominion.