Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: South Region Part 2

No. 2 seed Oklahoma Sooners:

Why they will win it all: The Sooners have the best player in the nation in sophomore power forward Blake Griffin. Griffin averaged 21.9 points per game and led the nation by averaging over 14 rebounds a game. Freshman guard Willie Warren is a fine compliment to Griffin, averaging 14.7 points per game, and is the team's best perimeter shooter.

Why they won't win it all: For as good as Warren can be Oklahoma lives and dies on the talent of Blake Griffin. They lack a true second option in the front court that allows teams to routinely double and triple team Griffin. As we've seen in recent years (Kansas 2008, Florida 2006-7, and UNC 2005) well rounded teams are the teams that win national championships. Also similar teams who are based around one star player such as Texas in 2007 (Kevin Durant) and Kansas State in 2008 (Michael Beasley) both lost in the 2nd round of the tournament.

Player to watch: Blake Griffin. Griffin can dominate the game as much as any other player in this tournament. If he can get in a rhythm early he will be tough to stop. There is no real weakness in his game. The one area of concern is sometimes Griffin gets turnover happy. He can sometimes press too much and make bad decisions when the Sooners are struggling. Overall though Griffin is a great player who can't be guarded one on one.

Prediction: I think Oklahoma will come out of the South and make it to the Final Four. They have a tough potential Sweet 16 match-up with Syracuse but they should be able to pull it out. I don't think UNC will have an answer for Griffin in the Elite Eight game.

Other teams to watch: The 3rd seed Syracuse Orange showed in the Big East Tournament that they can play with anyone. The Orange have a talented offense led by sophomore point guard Jonny Flynn and junior forward Paul Harris. Syracuse is a deadly 3-point shooting team and are a dangerous team in the South. The 4th seed Gonzaga Bulldogs are another team that could make a run in the South. They dominated their conference tournament winning both games by at least 25 points. They are a strong shooting team led by senior forward Josh Heytvelt.

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