Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet 16 Preview: (2) Memphis vs. (3) Missouri

(2) Memphis Tigers:

Their Tournament so far: The Tigers survived a potential first round upset by 15th seed Cal State Northridge. Though they won the game 81-70, Memphis was down by three with nine minutes remaining. Sophomore guard Roburt Sallie came up big off the bench for the Tigers by hitting 10 3-pointers. In the second round game against (10) Maryland, Memphis showed why they were a number 2 seed by blowing out the Terps with a 89-70 win. The Tigers had 5 players in double figures and were too quick and athletic for the Terps to handle.

Hot Hand: Roburt Sallie scored just 150 points in the 33 games leading up to the NCAA tournament but has 48 in the Tigers first two rounds. Sallie has been a good 3-point shooter all year has caught fire in the tournament with a combined 13-19 from behind the arc. Freshman guard Tyreke Evans has added 34 points for Memphis and has been disruptive on defense.

How they match-up with Missouri: Memphis match-ups well with Missouri. They are very similar teams, both like to get out in front of their opponents and score in transition. Both teams are very adept at creating turnovers and forcing bad shots. Memphis doesn't have the 3-point shooting ability to match with Missouri but does have more overall talent in their back court. Memphis also has a depth advantage over Missouri, with a more balanced offense.

X-Factor: Win the battle of the big men. Missouri's two best players are forwards and if they get hot, Missouri will advance to the Elite Eight. Memphis needs their own forwards, senior Robert Dozier and junior Shawn Taggart, to match-up and shut down the Missouri threat. Dozier and Taggart will need to control the boards as well and give their team some second shot looks.

(3) Missouri Tigers:

Their Tournament so far: Missouri had a 19 point victory over (14) Cornell in the first round. The Tigers were led by senior forward Leo Lyons who had 23 points and 10 rebounds. In the second round the Tigers had a tough match-up against (6) Marquette. The Tigers pulled out a four point victory behind clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.

Hot Hand: Lyons has paced the Tigers with 41 points between the two games. He's been strong from the free throw line hitting 11 of his 13 attempts. Senior forward DeMarre Carroll has scored in double digits in both rounds and has been the team's leader all season. Freshman guard Kim English has come off the bench to score 30 points and has gone 6-10 from beyond the 3-point line.

How they match-up with Memphis: They can't match the star quality or depth of Memphis but they can play defense and force Memphis to play their game. While both teams rely on transition basketball, Missouri plays a tighter defense and is a better shooting team. They need to not give up so many second chance points and capitalize on Memphis turnovers.

X-Factor: Shutting down the Memphis back court. Missouri has the advantage on the inside but Memphis has a big advantage with their guards. While Missouri is a better shooting team, the Memphis guards are quicker and more athletic. For Missouri to win they have to slow down Evans, Sallie and senior guard Antonio Anderson. If Missouri can neutralize the threat on the outside their inside advantage should give them the victory.

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