Friday, March 23, 2007

NCAA Matchups & Picks for Saturday, March 24

4:40 pm EDT Ohio State (-1) Memphis - Apparently, people are paying attention and they've come to the realization that Memphis is a pretty darn good team and also that Ohio State has been living on the edge over the past two games.Sports Training Products

The Buckeyes' win over over Tennessee was not one that the Ohio State faithful are going to remember, having to rally from 20 points down to get the narrow win. The Tigers, on the other hand, should have plenty of confidence after their 1-point win over a very solid Texas A&M team. With that win, we now know how Memphis will react in tight games - with poise and determination.

The Tigers have now stretched their winning streak to 25 games not many have been close calls. They should be physically and emotionally ready for anything that Ohio State throws at them.

The biggest matchup in this game is going to be in the middle, where Greg Oden squares up with Joey Dorsey. Oden may have a height advantage, but nobody in this tournament has a wider, more physically imposing stature than Dorsey. Oden is listed at 7'0", 280, and Dorsey at 6'8", 260, but Dorsey is all muscle and is not going to allow Oden to settle in on the blocks. Nothing inside is going to come easy for Ohio State, and, if Oden gets in foul trouble again, it could be lights out for the Buckeyes.

Memphis also matches up well with the rest of the Ohio State squad, and again, they are going to look like the quicker players on the floor. Key players are going to be Mike Conley Jr. for the Buckeyes in his battle with Memphis point guard Andre Allen, who is a bulldog and lightning fast.

Allen will split time with the taller (6'6") Antonio Anderson, so depending on what coach Calipari wants to do with the ball - and Conley - he's got options.

Memphis also has excellent depth, something the Buckeyes do not enjoy. They are only 7 or 8 deep, whereas the Tigers usually go 9 deep and more.

Memphis has edges in experience, coaching and that 25-game win streak gives them enormous confidence. They will not be beaten. Ohio State will be heading home a week early.

7:05 pm EDT Kansas (-2) UCLA - If you like contrasting styles, look no further than this. Kansas has the hottest and one of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation, but UCLA plays the stingiest and nastiest defense. If either team manages to get things going their way early, this could turn into a rout.

However, it has to be understood that Kansas has superior talent at all positions. The Jayhawks can run up and down the floor all night and all of their starters can score.

By contrast, UCLA lives and dies off limiting opponent opportunities, contesting passes and shots and solid rebounding. Their scoring almost always has to come from Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison, who also is the point guard, handling distribution. If Kansas can shut down Afflalo, they'll win this easily, it's as simple as that.

Their wing players, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright should be able to light up the Bruins from outside and in. The inside game between Loenzo Mata and Darrell Arthur may turn out to be a standoff, but the Jayhawks have a serious edge at most of the other positions.

It's doubtful that the Bruins will hold Kansas under 65 points, which is what they'll need to do to win. Even then, as Southern Illinois found out on Thursday, holding the score down to a favorable level is no guarantee of victory as Kansas won, 61-58, with their 2nd lowest output of the season. The Jayhawks can play defense as well and they will mow down the Bruins and head to the Final Four. This one could easily turn into a double-digit rout for Kansas.

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