Friday, April 10, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Round One

East Region

(1) North Carolina 88, (8) Washington 70: Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy keep the game close for the first half, but the depth of the Tar Heel bench becomes apparent early in the second half and North Carolina pulls away. Game MVP: Antawn Jamison - 28 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Ohio State 71, (4) Alabama 68: The Crimson Tide's lack of height allows Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos to have their way down low. Mike Conley is able to neutralize Mo Williams and Michael Redd scores at will. Gerald Wallace has a nice game (25 and 12), but it's not enough. Game MVP: Michael Redd - 32 points including 5 3-pointers.

(3) Syracuse 73, (6) USC 65: Carmelo Anthony thrives in NCAA Tournament-like formats (see 2003 NCAA Tournament and 2008 Olympics). Although his supporting cast here isn't spectacular, it's certainly enough to get by an overmatched Trojans squad. Game MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 35 points and 13 rebounds.

(2) Florida 84, (7) Oklahoma State 67: The Cowboys do not have the scorers to keep up with the run-n-gun Gators. This game gets out of hand early and the Gators are able rest their starters. Game MVP: Mike Miller - 19 points including 4 3-pointers.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 101, (8) Oregon 75: The Ducks rely on strong guard play to win games. Unfortunately for them, the Huskies are the deepest team in this tournament, and they run Oregon out of the gym. Game MVP: Caron Butler - 24 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Illinois 80, (4) Memphis 76: Ultimately, the game comes down to Deron Williams vs. Derrick Rose. Williams carries the Illini on his back and hits some clutch threes down the stretch. Game MVP: Deron Williams - 34 points, 13 assists.

(3) Georgia Tech 84, (6) Villanova 56: This is a nightmare matchup for the Wildcats. They have no big men, and the Yellow Jackets can run with them. Plenty of rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Chris Bosh - 22 points, 17 rebounds.

(2) Kansas 90, (7) Arkansas 75: Joe Johnson keeps Paul Pierce at bay, but every other matchup goes the Wildcats' way, and the Razorbacks are sent home early. Game MVP: Kirk Hinrich - 20 points, 11 assists.

South Region

(1) Duke 80, (8) DePaul 61: The Blue Devils outclass the Blue Demons in every facet of the game. Again, more rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Carlos Boozer - 21 points, 14 rebounds.

(4) LSU 76, (5) California 74: This is my favorite first round matchup. Jason Kidd can have his way with LSU because the Tigers have a huge hole in the backcourt. The Tigers, though, possess the deepest frontcourt in the tournament. Anthony Randolph is forced to play point-forward and does an adequate enough job that the Tigers squeak out out a last-second victory. Game MVP: Shaq - 25 points, 18 rebounds.

(6) Marquette 109, (3) Texas 105 (3 OT): The first round's best individual matchup far surpasses all expectations. Both Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade post triple doubles. In triple-OT, the Golden Eagles' sharpshooters, Steve Novak and Travis Diener, take the onus off Wade and hit a combined five 3's. A game that will be tough to forget. Game MVP: Dwyane Wade - 43 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks.

(2) Arizona 88, (7) Maryland 65: An awful matchup for the Terps as the Wildcats play solid defense and Maryland struggles mightily to put the ball in the hoop. Game MVP: Andre Iguodala - 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists.

West Region

(1) UCLA 80, (8) UNLV 66: The Bruins double-team Shawn Marion every time he touches the ball and force his teammates to beat them, a strategy that works to perfection. Game MVP: Baron Davis - 25 points, 12 assists.

(5) Georgetown 55, (4) Michigan State 51: The dysfunctional Spartans display no offensive rhythm and Allen Iverson creates enough open shots for his teammates against the defense-averse Spartans that the Hoyas win a sloppy game. Game MVP: Allen Iverson - 16 points, 8 assists.

(3) Kentucky 60, (6) Stanford 58: The All-Wingspan team (Kentucky) scores just enough to win and sets a tournament record with 22 blocked shots. Game MVP: Rajon Rondo - 14 points, 8 assists, 8 steals, 8 blocks.

(2) Wake Forest 75, (7) Notre Dame 60: The Demon Deacons' Big Three have there way all day and when the Fightin' Irish's threes don't fall, the game gets out of hand. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 31 points, 12 rebounds.

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