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2009 NCAA Tournament: West Regional Sweet 16 Preview

 

Perhaps the news accounts of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun’s health were overblown, but everybody is looking for an angle.

Here’s another one. The Huskies won the 1999 and 2004 national championships coming out of the West Regional. Well, here they are again in Arizona trying to get through with one of the better squads Calhoun has fielded.

But this is far from a coronation. Missouri and Memphis are each 30-plus win teams and Purdue won 27 games. It appears the Huskies have adjusted to life without their second leading scorer Jerome Dyson.

The question for Missouri, Memphis and Purdue is can they play enough defense to slow down the Huskies? By cutting down on the number of possessions, it makes a difference. Just ask Pittsburgh which turned both meetings against UConn into half-court affairs and won.

And if it gets to Memphis-Connecticut, watch two of the most athletic teams in the country go at it.

 

West Regional @ University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

No. 1 Connecticut (29-4) vs. No. 5 Purdue (27-9)

2009 UConn NCAA Tournament capsule - 2009 Purdue NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 7:07 EDT/Thursday/CBS

Connecticut Road to the Final Four: D. No. 16 Chattanooga, 103-47 D. No. 9 Texas A&M, 92-66

Pudue Road to the Final Four: D. No. 12 Northern Iowa 61-56 D. No. 4 Washington 76-74

Connecticut Moment of Truth: There really hasn’t been one except when coach Jim Calhoun wasn’t at the first round game.

Connecticut Leading Scorers: A.J. Price 14.6, Jeff Adrien 13.9, Hasheem Thabeet 13.7

Purdue Moment of Truth: The Boilermakers blew a double digit lead in the second half against Washington but held on.

Purdue Leading Scorers: E’Twaun Moore 14.0, JaJuan Johnson 13.4, Robbie Hummel 12.4

Key Matchup: Purdue’s half court vs. Connecticut’s transition. The Boilermakers are going to try and slow this game down to a crawl and keep it into the 60s. If they can, they can be in the game. Purdue is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive teams. But it has to value possessions.

Who Wins and Why: Connecticut. The Huskies just have too many options that the Boilermakers can’t match. And when you add a shot blocker like Thabeet, it makes taking anything to the glass tough. Connecticut is just a vastly better team.

 

West Regional @ University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

No. 2 Memphis (33-3) vs. No. 3 Missouri (30-6)

2009 Memphis NCAA Tournament capsule - 2009 Missouri NCAA Tournament capsule

Time/Day/TV: 9:37 EDT/Thursday/CBS

Memphis Road to the Final Four: D. No. 15 Cal-State Northridge, 81-70 D. No. 10 Maryland, 89-70

Missouri Road to the Final Four: D. No. 14 Cornell, 78-59 D. No. 6 Marquette, 83-79

Memphis Moment of Truth: Trailing in the closing minutes to Cal-State Northridge, the Tigers rallied to win. They really didn’t feel comfortable until the final minute.

Memphis Leading Scorers: Tyreke Evans 16.6, Robert Dozier 12.7, Shawn Taggart 10.5

Missouri Moment of Truth: Kim English’s 2 free throws with 5.5 seconds to play broke a tie with Marquette.

Missouri Leading Scorers: DeMarre Carroll 16.7, Leo Lyons 14.6

Key Matchup: Evans vs. Missouri’s full-court press. Ever since Evans moved to the point, Memphis hasn’t lost (27-0). He must stay disciplined against Missouri’s smothering defense that likes to create a lot of turnovers and points. If he can break it consistently, Memphis has the low post game with Dozier and Taggart to win.

Who Wins and Why: Memphis. Speaking of defense, this might be coach John Calipari’s best defensive team. Their hands are active. They harass. And they can make it hard for teams to move the basketball. Missouri will experience what Maryland couldn’t solve.

 

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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