Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweet 16 Preview: (1) Conneiticut vs. (5) Purdue

(1) Connecticut Huskies:

Their Tournament so far: The Huskies dominated the first two rounds of the tournament winning by a combined 82 points. In their first game against the 16th seed Chattanooga Mocs, Connecticut had five players in double figures, including three with 20 or more points. The Huskies grabbed 24 more rebounds than the Mocs and committed 10 less turnovers. In the 2nd round game against the 9th seed Texas A&M Aggies the Huskies were just as dominate. Led by senior point guard A.J. Price, who had 27 points, Connecticut had four players manage double digit point totals against the Aggies. The Huskies shot 58% from the field and out rebounded A&M by 14.

Hot hand: Price and senior forward Jeff Adrien have been the stars for Connecticut so far. Price has 47 points and 11 assists through two games and is shooting 50% behind the 3-point line. Adrien has been in double figures in both games and has 24 total rebounds.

How they match-up with Purdue: The Huskies will need junior center Hasheem Thabeet to get hot after he disappeared in the A&M game. Thabeet along with Adrien and junior forward Stanley Robinson on the inside Connecticut should be able to contain Purdue's big men. Price along with fellow guards Craig Austrie and Kemba Walker give Connecticut a big advantage on the perimeter. Connecticut's quickness should give the Boilermakers back-court fits all game.

X-Factor: Connecticut's presence inside. Thabeet needs to step up and control the boards like he has all season. Purdue is a balanced team but they rely on the 3-pointer, for the Huskies to win the need to they need to eliminate second chances by their opponent. Going inside on offense to Thabeet and Adrien could get Purdue in foul trouble and force them to go to their bench.

(5) Purdue Boilermakers:

Their Tournament so far: The Boilermakers squeaked by in their first two rounds with a five point victory over the 12th seed Northern Iowa Panthers and a two point upset over the 4th seed Washington Huskies. Despite leading both games the whole way the Boilermakers had to rely on clutch free throw shooting at the end of the game to advance to the next round.

Hot Hand: Sophomore forward JaJuan Johnson is leading the Boilermakers with 36 points between two games. Eleven of his 36 points and three block shots came in the second half of the Washington game that sent the Boilermakers to the Sweet 16. Sophomore guard E'Twaun Moore has added 31 points for Purdue and has gone 13-15 from the free throw line.

How they match-up against Connecticut: Purdue is a balanced team that has both inside and outside scoring options. Also they have a solid eight man rotation that gives them solid minutes. Unfortunately they can't match Connecticut's experience and star player advantage. Purdue's top three scorers are all sophomore's and will all be matched up against juniors and seniors. While they have some size they don't rebound well and will have to improve if they hope to knock off the Huskies.

X-Factor: Robbie Hummel breaking out of his slump. Sophomore forward Robbie Hummel was 3rd on the team in scoring during the season, averaging over 12 points a game but has yet to get into double figures in the tournament. In the second game against Washington Hummel ended up as the team's 6th best scorer. He was the Purdue's best 3-point option during the season but has only hit one three over the last two games. For the Boilermakers to make it to the Elite Eight Hummel will have to get hot. He has the athleticism to give Connecticut forwards Adrien and Robinson problems chasing him out on the perimeter.

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