March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (1) Virginia vs. (8) Memphis

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Virginia Cavaliers
A 16 seed has never beat a one seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament in its current format. With the other three 16 seeds already eliminated by the time their game tipped, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were the last ones with the opportunity to make history. With 8:52 remaining in the game the nation collectively wondered if the unthinkable could finally occurred as the game was tied at 47. However, the Cavaliers outscored the Chanticleers 23-12 from then on to avoid what would have been the most epic upset in tournament history. Sophomore forward Evan Nolte came off the bench to hit two crucial threes, which alone more than doubled his season average, to help spark the run. Anthony Gill was also key for the Cavaliers off of the bench, scoring a team-high 17. The big stage, bright lights and immense expectations may have gotten to the Cavaliers through the first 32 minutes of play, but it’s hard to imagine the don’t come out much more loose and confident in the Round of 32 against the Memphis Tigers. The game plan against them is simple: take away the run game. If the Cavaliers can control the tempo, make the Tigers execute against the stout defensive in the halfcourt more than they get out in transition, they’re going to be in a great position to survive and advance. The Tigers have a variety of talented weapons, though, and are likely going to go on a couple of runs. It’s going to be important for the Cavaliers’ offense to have balance and guys stepping up when that happens.

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Memphis Tigers
The Tigers did not come into the tournament on as high of a note as they would have liked to, losing three out of their last five, and they found themselves in a serious battle in their opening round game against Atlantic-10 reprehensive George Washington. However, Michael Dixon, the AAC Sixth Man of the Year, four of his team-high 19 in the final 10 seconds in order to help the Tigers earn a matchup against Virginia in the Round of 32. All eight players who saw the floor for Tigers head coach Josh Pastner scored. Joe Jackson was second behind Dixon with 15 to go along with his five rebounds and six assists. The ball movement was really good for the Tigers as only eight of their 27 field goals were unassisted. Defensively they struggled to contain Isaiah Armwood, who went for nine more points than his season average with 21 on 9-12 shooting from the field. They’re going up against a Virginia team that is balanced without an elite scoring threat, but they’re one of the premier defensive teams in the field. It’s going to be a real battle of wills as the Cavaliers are a halfcourt oriented team that does not want to play at the pace the Tigers do. In order to initialize their run game the Tigers are going to have to do a great job of the defensive glass and try to eliminate easy buckets. The Cavaliers did not look overly impressive in their win over the 16th seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and allowed them to shoot 9-19 from distance. If the Tigers are on from three, which they weren’t against George Washington, they could stand a chance to survive the opening weekend for the first time under coach Pastner.