PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- What I’m looking forward to seeing Saturday:
Saint Mary's (10) vs. Villanova (2), 1:05 p.m.
How much trouble will Omar Samhan be for Villanova up front? I’m interested to see if Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton can handle the mighty Gael. Samhan is a load to deal with in the paint. Yarou has the chops to push him around in the post whereas Sutton can be much more of a disruptive force from the weak side with his shot-blocking ability.
The guard contest is quite a contrast. The Gaels will struggle to keep Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher in front of them and out of the lane. Conversely, the Gaels have more deep threats in Mickey McConnell and Clint Steindl. Taylor King can match the depth of shot with Villanova.
The game could come down to how effective Ben Allen is facing the basket. He’s a mismatch with his ability to hit the face-up jumper. That’s why stronger players for ‘Nova like Antonio Pena and Reggie Reading have to offset that with being much more of a physical presence.
Saint Mary’s is playing loose but wants to desperately prove it can be a Sweet 16 program. Meanwhile, Villanova couldn’t have played worse in the overtime loss to Robert Morris. There has to be a new lease on life for the ‘Cats. I could be wrong but this should be the best of the day here.
Ohio (14) vs. Tennessee (6), 3:35 p.m.
Tennessee had to gut out the win over San Diego State. It was not an offensive performance. The Vols barely got to the needed 62. What should change against Ohio? The Bobcats want to play fast and that means multiple shots for players like Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Melvin Goins and J.P. Prince. Whether they can make the shots is another matter.
Can the Ohio guards seriously shoot as well as they did against Georgetown? That may be asking quite a lot. Tommy Freeman made three 3-pointers but the bigger story was D.J. Cooper making five 3s. Cooper finished with 23 points in 37 minutes. One would think that Chris Wright would be able to defend him better than say Goins. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper went past the Hoyas at will. The Bobcats do have Cooper and Armon Bassett to handle pressure. That’s why it will be critical for the role players like Kenneth Van Kempen to make perimeter shots.
Ohio must get off to a solid start to be in this game. The Bobcats probably won’t be able to play from behind in this game if the Vols get confident early.
What’s interesting here is that since neither game feeds into the same region you might not see too many people stay for the second game. There isn’t a rooting interest since they won’t meet next week. The first game is in the South bracket and feeds to Houston. The second game is in the Midwest and feeds to St. Louis.