Wednesday, March 19, 2008

#6 USC vs. #11 Kansas State - Preview

Much has been made about the battle of freshmen between O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley, or Mayo's life-long friendship with Bill Walker, but all that stuff won't matter once the ball is tipped-off. We don't have much time to get a full preview in, as RG3 said in the previous post, we're off the Vegas to get our gaming on. I have seen Kansas State play a few times both this year and last season, so I have some sense as to how they play the game. However, I don't know much about Kansas State's supporting cast. Nevertheless, if USC is to win tomorrow and advance to the 2nd round, they must accomplish these 3 goals. Do that, and we can expect to see Wisconsin on Saturday, one win away from consecutive Sweet 16's.

3 Keys to Victory:

Defensive Rebounding -- The #1 priority for the Trojans will be defensive rebounding. Kansas State led the Big 12 Conference in offensive rebounds per game with a staggering 16.32 average. Coach Tim Floyd's teams are always tough defensively, USC is 14 in the nation in field goal percentage defense and will force a lot of missed shots, which will create opportunities for Beasley and Walker to gain 2nd chances. Floyd and his staff understand that the Wildcats pick up a lot of garbage points on easy put backs and will have to look no further back than that Sweet 16 game against North Carolina last season where the Trojans got absolutely hammered on the offensive glass. Davon Jefferson and Daniel Hackett need to box out their guys and help Taj Gibson down low.

Taj Gibson -- Gibson needs to have a strong all-around game offensively, defensively, and rebounding, but his biggest contribution will have to come on the offensive end. The Wilcats will have to defend Gibson with Beasley since he is their biggest player inside. Taj is going to have to win this individual matchup and make Beasley work hard defensively. If he can get going early, Kansas State will be forced to double which will open things up for Mayo, or Beasley will be in foul trouble.

Turnovers -- The Wildcats do not want to play in the halfcourt against USC's tough defense, so they'll look to run and get easy fastbreak points whenever possible. Kansas State tends to stand around and just watch Beasley when forced to play slow, so look for them to pressure the Trojans and speed up the game. They are at their best when they are out in the open court getting others involved. Dwight Lewis must make strong, accurate passes and not give one away like he's done against tough defensive teams like ucla. Mayo and Hackett need to take good care of the ball and play under control.

USC has all the intangibles in this game. They have toughness, NCAA Tournament experience, and a brilliant coaching staff. They played against Kevin Durant's Texas team last year and proved that one player cannot win games in March. For these reasons, I like USC in this one. Prediction: USC 66, Kansas State 60.

Fight On! Beat the Wildcats!

No comments: