The 2010 NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16 South Regional
Friday: 7:27 p.m. ET: (10) St. Mary's vs. (3) Baylor
If anyone has become the darling of this NCAA Tournament, it is Omar Samhan.
A big, goofy-looking, throwback post player, Samhan has feasted on the smaller post players he has faced when playing Villanova and Richmond. Baylor is not a small team in the front court. Josh Lomers is going to be able to match up Samham in size. Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy are as athletic as any big men Samhan has had to face this season.
Will he be able to score against them?
The Bears are not known for their defensive prowess. They give up too much penetration in their zone, and it results in kick outs for open threes. The Gaels have shooters - that much isn't up for debate - but do they have guys that can get the ball into the paint and create?
Baylor, on the other hand, is also going to be a tough matchup for the Gaels defensively.
Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn are two very capable backcourt players. Carter went from being almost an afterthought on Baylor's last few teams to one of the best scorers and playmakers in the conference. If James Anderson of Oklahoma State was the best pure scorer in the Big XII this season, Dunn wasn't far behind.
As good as Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell are offensively, they are not the best defenders for the No. 10 seed from Moraga, Calif. Baylor cannot afford to allow one, or both, of those guys to get it going on Friday night.
Another aspect of this game to keep an eye on is foul trouble. Samhan has a tendency to get into foul trouble. He has been in foul trouble in each of St. Mary's first two tournament games, and neither Villanova or Richmond has the bigs that Baylor does. Udoh is really the only big on BU that is a threat to create his own shot, but Baylor will give him the opportunity. Udoh does get minutes as the center for this team, and it will be a tough matchup for Samhan.
Samhan also has a tendency to go for blocks. Given the athleticism of Baylor's front line - especially guys like Udoh and Acy - he is going to have to avoid that and also avoid picking up useless fouls if St. Mary's is to have a chance.
Friday: 9:57 pm: (4) Purdue vs. (1) Duke
Purdue was on track to be a No. 1 seed in this tournament.
However, after Robbie Hummel popped an ACL, that hope was lost... and many believed the Boilermakers' tournament hopes were lost as well.
Those people (this writer very much included, it must be said) underestimated the heart of this Purdue team. With Robbie Hummel out, the Boilers needed some of their role players to step up, and step up they did. Keaton Grant scored 11 points in a 15-0 run that blew open a close game against Siena last Friday in the first round. Chris Kramer scored seven of his 17 points in a 17-2 run that erased an 11-point Texas A&M lead, and eventually hit the game winning layup in overtime.
With all this having been said, though, Duke is a better team than either Texas A&M or Siena.
The Blue Devils have three very good scorers on their perimeter. Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Jon Scheyer are all capable of getting 25 on a given night, and if those three all get going, Duke is a very difficult team to beat.
Purdue, even without Hummel, can still defend. Where the Boilermakers need to be careful is on the defensive glass.
You see, Hummel was their best rebounder. Without him, this is a small basketball team, at times having to essentially use Chris Kramer as a four (a power forward). For all of the complaints about Duke's big men, the one thing that group can do effectively is rebound at the offensive end. Brian Zoubek developed into a force on the glass by the end of the regular season. Miles and Mason Plumlee are both long and athletic and can get on the backboard, too. As good as Purdue center JaJuan Johnson is, he has never really been known as a top-notch rebounder.
If Purdue is going to advance further in this tournament, the biggest key is going to be limiting Duke to one shot.
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By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer