3/2011 Elite Eight Game Previews

1 Kansas and 11 VCU

It’s up to Shaka Smart to find a way to make sure that his team doesn’t become the second team from Richmond to get trounced by Kansas. Standing in his way are the Morris twins, Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Shelby, Thomas Robinson, and Brady Morningstar. Together, they have obliterated teams all season and have finally proven that they are the best.

Kansas destroyed Richmond with tight interior defense as well as a balanced offense that capitalized on the various Richmond turnovers. The Rams have a very narrow margin of error. Every little mistake could cost them. VCU can’t afford to think that they will be able to play like they did against FSU and win. Kansas is a whole different team. While they don’t have the best defense in the country like FSU, they have a solid defense and an offense that is infinitely better. Kansas is a deep team that is filled with scorers, guards, and rugged big men, The latter is tough to come by in college basketball.

However, Kansas can’t afford to sleep on VCU. Joey Rodriguez is a great facilitator and is probably the best pure point guard out of these two teams. Jamie Skeen is a star, and VCU also has depth that wasn’t nationally recognized until now. VCU can compete with Kansas, but I have a hard time believing that they can topple these giants.

2 UNC and 4 Kentucky

No offense to Kansas and VCU, but this is the game to watch tonight if you have to pick between these two games. Kentucky just came off a last-gasp victory over lights-out Ohio State, thanks to Brandon Knight’s second tourney buzzer beater. On side note, both VCU and Kentucky have players that have hit two buzzer beaters in this tourney; Bradford Burgess and Knight respectively.

Anyway, both teams have a propensity for winning close games. UNC is a fast-paced team, while Kentucky are the rugged guys. A key player in this game will be Josh Harrellson. If he can play like he did against Ohio State, he will have a good chance of matching Tyler Zeller in the paint. DeAndre Liggins is one of the best defensive players in the country, and his toughness will be a key asset in trying to lock down the perimeter against UNC. Guys like Dexter Strickland and Harrison Barnes need to be controlled.

Kendall Marshall and Barnes are going to be two tough opponents to stop, and Brandon Knight will have to play well for the entire game this time. I think in the end, Kentucky toughs it out and Coach Cal out coaches Roy Williams to give Kentucky the slightest of victories.