The 2010 NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16 East Regional
Thursday 7:27 pm: (11) Washington vs. (2) West Virginia
West Virginia got some very bad news on Tuesday as Truck Bryant broke a bone in his foot and will be out for the rest of the tournament.
Already thin in the backcourt, the Mountaineers now have just one point guard on their roster in Joe Mazzulla, who is playing with basically one shoulder.
That said, Mazzulla has spent most of the latter part of this season as the primary ballhandler for WVU. Truck starts, but Mazzulla plays the important minutes. Even with Bryant on the court, he is rarely the primary option.
The Mountaineers are going to be a tough matchup for the Huskies because of their size. The graduation of Jon Brockman really hurt this UW team. Without Brockman, the Huskies really don't have a great rebounder inside, and rebounding is the strength of this West Virginia team. At times, WVU's best offense is to simply get a ball up on the rim and go get the offensive rebound. The Mountaineers usually have four guys on the floor that are between 6-7 and 6-9, athletic, and strong. The Huskies are going to have their work cut out for them on the glass.
That said, losing Bryant may have an effect on the defensive end as well. The Huskies like to spread the floor offensively and let their scorers create, and they do have some good scorers. One should expect WVU to fall back into its 1-3-1 zone at some point in this game, and it will be interesting to see how Washington handles it.
What this game is going to essentially come down to is who takes advantage of the mismatches involved. Will Washington be able to push the tempo and capitalize on its 1-on-1 ability, or can WVU make this a slugfest that is played in the paint?
Thursday: 9:57 pm: (12) Cornell vs. (1) Kentucky
There are about 10 million interesting storylines to follow in this game (did you know that a Kentucky player - Mark Coury - left the Wildcats and transferred to the Big Red?), but perhaps the most interesting is the contrast between these two teams.
Call it what you want - ballers versus bookworms, lottery picks vs. their financial planners - the one thing we can probably agree on is that this is not your typical Kentucky-vs.-an-Ivy-League-team matchup.
You see, the Big Red are for real this year. Did you see them dismember both Temple and Wisconsin, two of the best defensive teams in the country? Cornell scored a ridiculous, off-the-charts 1.45 points per possession against Wisconsin. That's just nuts.
Kentucky is also one of the best defensive teams in the country, and while one shouldn't be too surprised to see Cornell have another exemplary performance at that end of the floor, it's really hard to believe the Big Red will be able to slow down Kentucky at the offensive end.
Cornell is not a good defensive team, and if you look at the numbers, the Big Red had far from good defensive performances against both Temple and Wisconsin. Both the Badgers and the Owls played one of their better offensive games; they simply could do nothing to slow down the Cornell attack.
How will the Ivy champions fare against Kentucky? Is Jeff Foote really going to be able to handle DeMarcus Cousins? Will the rest of the Cornell front line be big and strong enough to deal with another All-American in Patrick Patterson? Can anyone on Cornell keep Eric Bledsoe or John Wall out of the lane?
In all likelihood, those answers are all going to be "no."
Then again, with the exception of Jay Bilas, how many people thought Cornell would make it this far? Remember, the Big Red are the nation's best three point shooting team. These kids have hit 20 threes in a game this year. When they get hot, they can play with anyone in the country.
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By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer