Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: West Region Part 2

No. 2 seed Memphis Tigers:

Why they will win it all: The Tigers are a much different team from the one that lost in the finals to Kansas a year ago. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. They are a more balanced team with four players averaging at least 10 points a game. Memphis also has a deep bench with a total of 9 players that average at least 12 minutes per game. The Tigers are led by freshman point guard Tyreke Evans and senior forward Robert Dozier. Evans led the team in scoring averaging over 16 points a game and is a quality defender. Dozier is their best inside scorer averaging 12.2 points per game. Memphis is a very athletic team that likes to force turnovers and get the fast break.

Why they won't win it all: Memphis is a hard to team to project because of the weakness of their conference. They ran away with the Conferance USA regular season and postseason title but didn't face any tough competition. Tennessee and Gonzaga were the only tournament teams they faced that they beat. Memphis can also be very inconsistent. Dozier is one of their best players but he disappears in far too many games. The Tigers lack a true perimeter threat and their overall shooting percentage is under 45%.

Player to watch: Tyreke Evans. Evans has quietly filled Derrick Rose's shoes as the teams star point guard. Evans isn't as complete a player as Rose but is still a dangerous scoring threat. He does a little bit of everything for the Tigers. In addition to leading the team in scoring, Evans led the team in steals, was second in assists and third in rebounds and blocked shots. Unfortunately Evans led the team in another category by a wide margin; turnovers. Evans is not a good passer and will try to do too much at times. If he stays focused Evans can be an elite scorer and a shutdown defender.

Prediction: I think Memphis will come out of the West region for a Final Four berth. Their depth and defense should help them overcome challenges from Missouri and Connecticut.

Other teams to watch: The 3rd seed Missouri Tigers could be a strong team in this bracket. They won the Big 12 tournament and could make a run in this tournament as well. Led by senior forwards DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons the Tigers can run with just about anyone. They are an athletic team that plays good defense and matches up well against Memphis and Connecticut. The 4th seed Washington Huskies are a deep team that has four scorers averaging at least 10 points. The Huskies are led by senior forward Jon Brockman who averaged over 14 points and 11 rebounds a game.

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