Here's a look at Saturday's regional finals and my picks to advance to the Final Four in St. Louis.
|Albuquerque Regional Final - Preview ||Game Info: Sat, 4:40 ET ( WV Lou) |
| ||T-7th, Big East |
No. 7 seed
|C-USA champion |
No. 4 seed
|Both teams love to shoot three-pointers, and both are pretty comfortable playing zone defenses. That typically plays into the hands of a jump-shooting team, and I'm interested to see what adjustments both teams will make defensively. |
West Virginia is a very good offensive team in that the Mountaineers run motion, everybody's active, and everybody can handle and shoot. Louisville has guys who are very comfortable making plays off the dribble.
Who will win? The chess match goes to Louisville because the Cardinals have more playmakers off the bounce. Francisco Garcia, Taquan Dean and even big man Ellis Myles can find ways to score.
How West Virginia could pull it off: Make shots. That's a concern for both teams. The Mountaineers also need to limit a very good shooting team in Louisville to one shot per possession, something Washington wasn't able to do on Thursday.
And those cross-court, slow, telegraphed passes that allowed Texas Tech to stay in the game on Thursday certainly won't work against Louisville.
|Chicago Regional Final - Preview ||Game Info: Sat, 7:05 ET |
| ||1st, Pac-10 |
No. 3 seed
|Big Ten champion |
No. 1 seed
|Wow, what a matchup. Arizona has the terrific one-two punch of Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire, and Stoudamire showed again against Oklahoma State how good he is with the game on the line. |
I thought one of the keys for Arizona against the Cowboys was playing through Frye. They gave him touches, and even if he didn't shoot the ball, he was able to make plays and force the defense to react to him having the ball. The Wildcats will need that approach against Illinois.
How Arizona defends Illinois' three guards will be the real key. Deron Williams was terrific against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Dee Brown is looking to be aggressive with his shot. One question mark is Luther Head with that sore hamstring because he'll be challenged a lot on the perimeter.
Who will win? I've had Illinois all season long, largely because they've won in different fashions. The Illini have won with defense, they've won by attacking the goal, and they've won with good judgment and poise. To see Williams shoot as well as he did against Milwaukee is really a good sign. He's the difference maker. He always has been the great playmaker, but he has struggled all year with his shot.
How Arizona could pull it off: The Wildcats need a big game from Frye and must find a way to contain the Illinois guards in the halfcourt. Arizona wants to force big guys Roger Powell Jr. and James Augustine to beat them, even though those two are capable.