Gators At Sweet Stage Of Tourney
Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah
Scout National Basketball Columnist
Posted Mar 22, 2007


Butler rolled off four consecutive upsets in November to win the NIT in Madison Square Garden. Can the Bulldogs pull off something bordering on a shocker when they take on Florida Friday night in St. Louis?

*The defending national champion tries to take the next step toward Atlanta without being victimized by a potential 2007 version of “Hoosiers”.

 

*The 2005 national champion tries to take another step toward making it “two out of three”.

 

*A couple of teams try to extend seasons that have already lasted longer than anyone outside of Eugene and Las Vegas imagined they might back in November.

 

*And two teams that played way back when – Nov. 15 – have a reunion in the Meadowlands.

 

That’s the lineup for Night II of the 2007 Sweet 16.

 

All tip-offs are Eastern Time

EAST REGIONAL

At East Rutherford

No. 2 Georgetown (28-6) vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt

How they got here: Georgetown (Belmont, 80-55; Boston College, 62-55); Vanderbilt (George Washington, 77-44; Washington State, 78-74, 2OT)

Records vs. tournament field: Georgetown 12-4, Vanderbilt 7-5

Keys for Georgetown: Containing Derrick Byars and Shan Foster, and matching up with the Commodores’ jump shooters.

Keys for Vanderbilt: Doing something to take the Hoyas out of their half-court offensive rhythm; keeping the ball out of Jeff Green’s hands as much as possible.

Frank Says: Unless Coach Kevin Stallings can find a way to neutralize the play of the frontcourt combination of Green and Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas will be just a Sunday win away from the Final Four after this one.

 

No. 1 North Carolina (30-6) vs. No. 5 USC (25-11)

How they got here: North Carolina (Eastern Kentucky, 85-65; Michigan State, 81-69); USC (Arkansas, 77-60; Texas, 87-68)

Records vs. tournament field: North Carolina 15-5, USC 11-7

Keys for North Carolina: Hitting enough jump shots to keep the Trojans from collapsing around Tyler Hansbrough; matching up with USC wings Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart.

Keys for USC: Keeping the speed of UNC point guard Tywon Lawson in check.

Frank Says: The Trojans beat the Tar Heels early last season in the L.A. Sports Arena. Both teams are much, much better now. The gut says that Lawson will be the one factor that USC Coach Tim Floyd isn’t going to be able to compensate for.

 

MIDWEST REGIONAL

At St. Louis

No. 1 Florida (31-5) vs. No. 5 Butler (25-9)

How they got here: Florida (Jackson State, 112-69; Purdue, 74-67); Butler (Old Dominion, 57-46; Maryland, 62-59)

Records vs. tournament field: Florida 10-3, Butler 8-3

Keys for Florida: Stringing two strong halves together; chasing Butler’s jump shooters around in half-court and early-offense situations.

Keys for Butler: Pulling shot blockers Joakim Noah and Al Horford away from the lane; not allowing the Gators to get too many point-blank shots in the low post.

Frank Says: If the Gators don’t come from Jump Street with a lot of energy and focus, Butler has a shot. If not . . . it’s been a nice season, Bulldogs!

 

No. 3 Oregon (28-7) vs. No. 7 UNLV (30-6)

How they got here: Oregon (Miami-Ohio, 58-56; Winthrop, 75-61); UNLV (Georgia Tech, 67-63; Wisconsin, 74-68

Records vs. tournament field: Oregon 10-6, UNLV 6-2

Keys for Oregon: Executing well in the half court if the Rebels are able to slow down their transition attack.

Keys for UNLV: Staying in front of Aaron Brooks, Tajuan Porter and Bryce Taylor and forcing them to becoming drivers (into help) instead of pull-up or spot-up jump shooters.

Frank Says: The Rebels’ solid play on both ends of the floor continues and puts them in the title game against the defending national champion.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com



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