— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) March 21, 2015
It’s another full day of basketball in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and today we’re moving on into the Round of 32. After a thrilling – and literally last second – win over LSU in the Round of 64, the Pack received a prime time slot and will tip off against Villanova at 7:10 this evening in Pittsburgh. The game will once again be aired by TBS.
I’m going to list some NC State related media links below first, along with my own preview of semi-ignorance, and then I’ll throw in some general notes on today’s Round of 32 action. It’s Caturday! (google it) and that can only mean good things for Cat and the Pack 🙂 Enjoy your Saturday everyone, and Go Pack. (Please visit the forums for even more discussion on various topics).
GoPack tournament central w/ twitter feed, stats, bracket, etc.
“When they’re at their best, they’re as good as anybody in the country,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They were at their best against Duke and I think we saw that in the second half [against LSU].”
That’s really the thing about the Wolfpack — when they’re good, they’re very, very good, but when they’re bad — well, you know the rest.
So which team will come out against top-seeded Villanova?
That’s the big riddle.
”I just saw the air ball and the guy put it back in,” said fifth-year Villanova senior JayVaughn Pinkston. ”I haven’t seen ours yet.”
Big East co-player of the year Ryan Arcidiacono laughed as he gave his teammate a hard time.
”There’s a constant video outside of where we practice that you can replay the whole national championship video and it literally, it’s playing all day,” he said.
Pinkston shrugged it off: ”I never really paid any attention.”
… FOR THREE: The Wildcats are at their best when they connect on 3s. They were a fantastic 11 of 22 against Lafayette, the eighth time in the last 11 games they’ve hit at least 10 3s. They also hit at least 10 3s in 12 of 18 Big East games.
”If they’re blowing by you left and right and they’re getting past guys and you’ve got to come help and they’re moving the ball and finding shooters, you’re going to be in for a long night,” Gottfried said.
wufpup’s semi-ignorant preview:
Nova enters the game scorching hot, both in consecutive victories (16) and from the field – they shot a ridiculous 63% against Lafayette, which included a blistering 11-22 performance from 3.
As alluded to in the videos and previews above, Nova utilizes a guard-oriented line-up where dribble penetration is key. The penetration opens up the passing lane for kick outs to an open 3, puts pressure on the interior defense which can lead to foul trouble, and also typically leads to a lot of offensive rebounds (they had 7 on Thursday; everything else went through the net).
Don’t let their rather smallish team size average fool you – as has been the norm for Nova under Jay Wright they are an incredibly physical and aggressive team. Nova attempts to really force the issue on both ends of the court – high pressure, physical man D and aggressive rim attacks on offense.
As for match-ups, Nova starts a 6-11 forward (Ochefu) and essentially four aggressive guards, though Pinkston is a very athletic 6-7 G/F. Typically against smallish line-ups this season we’ve seen the Pack go small – either by absolute necessity or by whimsy choice. I doubt we’ll see a starting line-up change, but I suppose we’ll see. AoD (Kyle!) could be a valuable match-up tonight if he stays in control and is able to pull a defender out on the perimeter with him … then hopefully Cat and Lacey would decide to do their own dribble penetration. I’d be happy with some Dez minutes tonight to attempt to stifle dribble penetration – especially if it gets rocky early … but really we’ll have to see what gameplan is in store and how the match-ups work out. Cat & co. are going to have to come up huge on the perimeter. This could be a very interesting chess match, or a … .
I fully expect a haymaker attempt right off the tip to see how State responds. The Pack did not respond against Duke in the ACC quarters, and if Nova can get in the Pack’s heads early it will be a long night. However, if the Pack responds with their own collective nasty demeanor and resolve they’ll have an opportunity to set the tone for a potential dogfight throughout. As we all know, so many of the Pack’s results this season have been due to what happens between the ears and not so much because of a talent deficit. If they want it, here it is.
Ok, hopefully we’re all primed for the action tonight. Get your liquor, wine, beer, cider, Bojangles, Hardees’, Applebees, etc. ready early and be ready to howl at the moon with the rest of the wolves at gametime. Where were we? Oh, right – other games. Here you go:
ACC: Cheats/Hogs ~ 8:40pm, TNT | Irish/Butler ~ 9:40pm TBS
wufpup’s bias: You could make an argument for Dayton being the most “charmed” team in this year’s tournament … They squeaked into the field as a ‘First Four’ participant and got that match-up on their home court. After a narrow come from behind victory there, they got to play their round of 64 match-up against Providence just down the road in Columbus. With a mostly partisan crowd on hand, Dayton was able to pull away late thanks in part to a ludicrous technical slapped on Providence coach Ed Cooley.
To me, however, Dayton is not the most charmed team. Not even close. That distinction belongs to UCLA in my eyes. Not only should the Bruins not be in the field, they didn’t even have to play in a ‘First Four’ game. They won their Round of 64 match-up due to the ‘goaltend miracle’. On top of that, they don’t even have to face Iowa State in the Round of 32 today. The Cyclones would wipe the floor with UCLA with just their ‘B’ game. Nope. It’s the plucky Blazers of UAB that will face UCLA. Just imagine that the Bruins win … we all get to hear an entire week’s worth of how the committe was ‘justified in their selection of UCLA and how everyone just needs to relax because this stuff always ‘works out’. The committee has ‘special eyes‘ and knew that UCLA was ‘capable’ of such a run. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Please, for the love of all that is holy – win Blazers. Win.
Have fun everyone.