Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's Pregame Beat: Day 2 Preview

Day 1

One day in the books (and no, I don't count the First Four as the first days of the tournament), and we've already seen four game-winning shots, seven games decided by five points or less, and three double digit seeds headed to the second round.

That is just the start, however.

Today is the second greatest day of the year. Once again, we get 12 straight hours of college hoops. Only today, we get Gus Johnson.

Hit the jump for a preview of Friday's five best games:

12:15 pm, CBS, Tulsa: No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 Oakland

Oakland is legit. They are a powerhouse offensive team led by an NBA caliber big man in Keith Benson and a quick, play making point guard named Reggie Hamilton. Will Hudson is a blue-collar power forward and Larry Wright is a guard capable of going off for a big game. He made the plays down the stretch of Oakland's win over Tennessee. The Golden Grizzlies are 15th in the country in offensive efficiency. The problem? They are 200th in the country in defensive efficiency, and while the Longhorns are known for their defense (lead the nation in defensive efficiency), they are also a top 25 team offensively. Oakland might be able to score on the Longhorns. The issue is going to be whether they can stop Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, and company.

2:10 pm, TNT, Cleveland: No. 8 George Mason vs. No. 9 Villanova

George Mason came almost out of nowhere to climb into the top 25 thanks to a 16 game winning streak late in the season. Villanova was the exact opposite. They fell out of the top 25 thanks to losses in five straight games, seven of nine, nine of 13, and 10 of their last 15 games. Even more shocking than how these two teams ended up on, essentially, an equal playing field is that George Mason may actually be the better team. The Patriots have quality big men in Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson, they have playmakers on the wing in Cam Long and Luke Hancock, and they have a sharp shooting point guard in Andre Cornelius. Villanova's vaunted back court has proven to be, well, not quite so vaunted. What ever the issue is with the Wildcats -- which I believe to be confidence and swagger more than talent or chemistry -- they are going to have to be ready to play against Mason.

2:45 pm, CBS, Tulsa: No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 12 Memphis

The Wildcats have one of the most efficient players in the country in Derrick Williams, but the issue is that Arizona does not have a much support for him. The issue, mainly, is at the point where Momo Jones has proven to be consistently inconsistent. Memphis, on the other hand, is loaded with talented players that are freshmen. The Tigers can be great when they show up to play, but they have an issue with playing down to their opponent. The emergence of Joe Jackson late in the season is promising, but the question is going to be which Tiger team shows up.

7:27 pm, truTV, Cleveland: No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11 Marquette

Xavier is led by Tu Holloway, who could very well be the best point guard in the country. He can score and he can create for his teammates. Chris Mack takes advantage of that, by running Holloway off of a pick and rolls throughout the game. Marquette has had issues with defending the pick and roll this year, especially when it comes to dynamic guards like Holloway. That said, Marquette has a number of versatile forwards -- Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder -- that will create some serious matchup problems for the Musketeers.

9:20 pm, TBS, Tulsa: No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Illinois

Coming into the first round of the tournament, the consensus was that this would be one of the most intriguing first round matchups of the tournament. Both teams are very similar. They both have a number of talented back court players, led by a star guard that has had issues off the court this season. Both teams are fairly weak in the paint. The matchup to watch is going to be Anthony Marshall guarding Demetri McCamey. McCamey is one of the most talented, and most enigmatic, point guards in the country. He has a tendency to force offensively, and Marshall is a terrific defender.

  • 12:15 pm, CBS, Tulsa: Texas vs. Oakland (Marv Albert/Steve Kerr)
  • 12:40 pm, truTV, Charlotte: Michigan vs. Tennessee (Nantz/Kellogg)
  • 1:40 pm, TBS, Chicago: Notre Dame vs. Akron (Spero Dedes/Bob Wenzel)
  • 2:10 pm, TNT, Cleveland: George Mason vs. Villanova (Gus Johnson/Len Elmore)
  • 2:45 pm, CBS, Tulsa: Arizona vs. Memphis (Albert/Kerr)
  • 3:10 pm, truTV, Charlotte: Duke vs. Hampton (Nantz/Kellogg)
  • 4:10 pm, TBS, Chicago: Texas A&M vs. Florida St. (Dedes/Wenzel)
  • 4:40 pm, TNT, Cleveland: Ohio St. vs. UTSA/Alabama St. (Johnson/Elmore)
  • 6:50 pm, TBS, Tulsa: Kansas vs. Boston U. (Albert/Kerr)
  • 7:15 pm, CBS, Charlotte: North Carolina vs. Long Island (Nantz/Kellogg)
  • 7:20 pm, TNT, Chicago: Purdue vs. St. Peter’s (Dedes/Wenzel)
  • 7:27 pm, truTV, Cleveland: Xavier vs. Marquette (Johnson/Elmore)
  • 9:20 pm, TBS, Tulsa: UNLV vs. Illinois (Albert/Kerr)
  • 9:45 pm, CBS, Charlotte: Washington vs. Georgia (Nantz/Kellogg)
  • 9:50 pm, TNT, Chicago: Georgetown vs. VCU (Dedes/Wenzel)
  • 9:57 pm, truTV, Cleveland: Syracuse vs. Indiana St. (Johnson/Elmore)

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