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2009 NCAA Tournament: East Regional Sweet 16 Preview


For Big East conference fans, the East Regional in Boston is the perfect storm. As this conference showed throughout the season it is the best in college basketball. Now, it is two wins away from having an all-Big East regional championship game.

Pittsburgh and Villanova enjoyed great regular seasons and their resolve was shown in the first two rounds. Pittsburgh earned the region’s No. 1 seed. Villanova earned a No. 3. But they are playing against two of the better programs in the country in No. 4 Xavier and No. 2 Duke.

The Musketeers were an Elite 8 team last year. The Blue Devils are actually back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. But the three-time NCAA champions have a better looking team because they are just a little more balanced.


East Regional @ TD Banknorth Garden, Boston

No. 1 Pittsburgh (30-4) vs. No. 4 Xavier (27-7)

2009 Pitt NCAA Tournament capsule - 2009 Xavier NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 7:27 EDT/Thursday/CBS

Pittsburgh Road to the Final Four: D. No. 16 East Tennessee State, 72-62 D. Oklahoma State, 84-76.

Pittsburgh leading scorers: Sam Young 18.9, DeJuan Blair 15.8, Levance Fields 10.6

Xavier Road to the Final Four: D. No. 13 Portland State, 77-59 D. No. 12 Wisconsin, 60-49

Pittsburgh Moment of Truth: The Panthers haven’t been pristine in their first two wins. In fact, they have had to overcome 32 turnovers. But they have managed to win.

Xavier Moment of Truth: The first 30 minutes of the second round game against Wisconsin concerned the Musketeers who were involved in a tight game. However, their defense in the final 10 minutes was the difference.

Key Matchup: Pittsburgh point guard Fields vs. Xavier defense. As difficult as it is for teams to move the ball efficiently, Fields must run the offense to the point where Xavier’s defense will not create as many problems. Fields averages 7.6 assists per game.

Who Wins and Why: Pittsburgh. This is the round that usually gives the Panthers problems. But with a menacing front court of Young and Blair, it will be hard for Xavier’s front court to match that.


East Regional @ TD Banknorth Garden, Boston

No. 2 Duke (30-6) vs. No. 3 Villanova (28-7)

2009 Duke NCAA Tournament capsule - 2009 Villanova NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 9:57 EDT/Thursday/CBS

Duke Road to the Final Four: D. No. 15 Binghamton 86-62 D. No. 7 Texas 74-59

Villanova Road to the Final Four: D. No. 14 American 70-57 D. No. 6 UCLA 89-69

Duke Moment of Truth: The Blue Devils blew a 10-point lead in the second half to Texas and were tied twice but survived.

Duke Leading Scorers: Gerald Henderson 16.8, Kyle Singler 16.5, Jon Scheyer 14.9

Villanova Moment of Truth: The Wildcats were down, 41-31, at the end of the first half to American but then prevailed in the second half.

Villanova Leading Scorers: Dante Cunningham 16.3, Scottie Reynolds 15.1, Corey Fisher 10.9

Key Matchup: Duke G-F Gerald Henderson vs. Villanova G-F Dwayne Anderson. Anderson hasn’t gotten hot yet but Henderson has kicked his game up a notch and really been the X-factor to Duke’s return to the Sweet 16. Expect the Wildcats to throw several defenders at him.

Who Wins and Why: Villanova. The Wildcats will contest Duke’s perimeter game and Cunningham is physically stronger against Duke’s Singler. Singler was really exposed against Texas and fouled out.


Sweet 16 preview - East | Sweet 16 preview - Midwest | Sweet 16 preview - South | Sweet 16 preview - West


By Kevin Lonnquist
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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