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Regional Final Preview

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Earlier today, in my summary of last night's game, I took a look ahead to LSU:

The opening game in Atlanta saw LSU knock off the mighty Blue Devils of Duke, much to my delight. Back in December, I wrote that Texas was a tough matchup for Duke because we were so athletic. Last night, I was proven both right and wrong. When we lost to Duke in such an ugly manner, I mistakenly concluded that Duke was invulnerable to the criticism that long, athletic teams could beat them. I thought that Reddick was too much. LSU proved that my original thought was actually right. They caught Reddick on a bad shooting night and that was the end for Duke.

I am very, very happy to be wrong. Texas is vulnerable to teams that shoot well, which Duke does; less so to athletic teams, which LSU is. The Tigers greatest strength, their athleticism, is matched by the Horns. Given an equal amount of athleticism, you look to who has more talent, and Texas gets the edge there.

Texas now has the chance to head to the Final Four for the second time in four years. A return trip for seniors Paulino and Buckman would cap their successful careers, and looking at the matchup, I like Texas' chances. The key to Saturday's game, unlike last night's, will be the backcourt. While West Virginia was soft in the middle, LSU will be soft on the edges. Aldridge and the front court will have far fewer chances to score on the big and physical LSU forwards, but the guards will have plenty of open looks and chances to penetrate from the outside.

In short: watch Daniel Gibson closely. He'll be the key to Texas' chances on Saturday. LSU is the ideal team for Gibson to excel against. And I think he will. After watching last night's action, I won't discount anyone or anything. But the stars seem aligned. I like what I see and I like Texas to win. Horns over the Tigers, and on to Indy, 74-72.

Good friend and loyal reader Joe Newberry commented that he thought LSU would instigate a slug fest that would keep the score down, a la our recent games with A&M. While I won't be surprised if that happens, I also think both teams are likely a little tired from their Sweet 16 matchups and may not be quite as quick on defense.

LSU, and the SEC, really, haven't gotten as much attention this year, but the Tigers, like Florida, have been pretty good all year long. They, also like Florida, don't quite shoot well enough to not have some letdown games. The same can be said of Texas, really.

While I like Texas to win this game, it's an interesting, balanced matchup. If the Horns get cold on the outside, like Duke did, the Tigers can take it. If Gibson, Paulino, and Abrams play well, though, I don't think LSU can beat us.

As with the NC State and West Virginia game, those of you in DC can join us at Lucky Bar, 18th and Connecticut Avenue, NW.

--HF--