Whew. Exhale everyone. I don't know if anything can top last night's Madness but we shall try. There are four games on tap for this evening and I plan on catching them all.
Let's take a quick look at the two regional semi final games in Minneapolis.
#1 Villanova vs. #4 Boston College 6:10 PM CST CBS
This is the ultimate contrast in styles. Nova succeeds with a four guard lineup and a big man by committee attack. Meanwhile, Boston College is dominant up front. Most pundits think you need big men to win and I agree (being a 5'7" white guard myself), but the Wildcats all play bigger than their size and actually rebound the ball remarkably well.
Villanova's four guard backcourt features two of the best in the nation: Randy Foye and Allan Ray. Foye is first team All American and Ray is a finalist for the Wooden Award for the best player in college basketball. Both are capable of scoring 20+ and both did so in their last outing, a hard fought victory over Arizona. The other half of the backcourt is point guard Mike Nardi and Kyle Lowry. Nardi is a good distributor of the ball and can hit the open three. Lowry is one of the toughest guards in college basketball. He rebounds the ball well and uses his solid frame to fend off defenders near the basket. Villanova's chances may rest with their big men though. Will Sheridan and Dante Cunningham have both been effective this season. Sheridan and Cunninghan must play solid interior defense and limit second chance opportunities if Nova is to march on.
Boston College is led by two outstanding forwards: Jared Dudley and Craig Smith. Both are capable of double doubles every night. Smith is better with his back to the basket. Dudley can kill you with his quick leaping ability especially on the offensive glass. Sean Williams has come off the bench recently to give the Eagles another force on the low blocks. BC is pretty good from the outside as well. When they knock down open threes, look out.
I can't wait for this one. BC is the last ACC team left. If they are able to dominate the glass, stay out of foul trouble, and limit the scoring of Ray and Foye, they will advance. Nova must make this game helter skelter. They need to continue to rebound better than their size would indicate, limit turnovers, get solid contributions from Sheridan and Cunningham, and let Foye and Ray do their thing. I have BC in one bracket and Nova winning the national championship in another. Our BON bracket says BC. So, I'll stick with the Eagles, 74-70.
#3 Florida vs. #7 Georgetown 8:40 PM CST CBS
I still haven't seen the Hoyas play this tournament but want to remind our readers that HornsFan and I predicted this run. Our BON bracket has G'Town getting to the Elite Eight but I don't see that happening now.
Florida is playing better than any team in the tournament. Corey Brewer, Taureen Green, and Joakim Noah have been great. Noah has been maybe the best player over the first two rounds. Florida can score inside and outside and their defense has been fantastic. They are giving up only 55 points per game in the tournament. Their offense has been almost as impressive. The Gators are averaging 79 points over the first two games. Needless to say, they haven't been tested. The knock on the Gators has always been their disappearing act come tournament time. I know they went to the championship game a few years ago, but there have been countless other underachieving performances. This year feels different. The Gators won the SEC Tournament and have cruised to the Sweet 16. Will the wilt against the big Hoya frontline? I don't think so.
When their offense is effective, the Hoyas can beat anyone. They have bangers down low in Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman, a solid point guard in Ashanti Cook and an X factor in 7'2" center Roy Hibbert. The Hoyas prefer to play slower than the Gators. Pace of play will help decide the victor in this one. The Hoyas can win if they win the battle on the glass, limit fast break points, and stay out of foul trouble. There aren't any amazing players on Georgetown, but if Jeff Green is not effective, they will struggle.
Again, the BON bracket has G'town. I am going with the hottest team in the tournament. Florida will force too many turnovers and get too many easy baskets. Noah has another great game. The Gators win, 68-62.