For the record, I got Marquette beating Kentucky in my NCAA brackets but as I sit courtside and watch the two battle, I could care less how my predictions work out. Any other year, I would be glued to the television set, drink and snacks at immediate disposal and brackets in hand. But as the game continues to go back-and-forth, I can only focus on the Red’s upcoming matchup with the Cardinal.
Here are the announced starting lineups:
G Mitch Johnson
G Anthony Goods
F Brook Lopez
F Fred Washington
C Robin Lopez
G Louis Dale
G Adam Gore
F Ryan Wittman
F Jason Hartford
F/C Alex Tyler
I am happy to see that junior Jeff Foote hasn’t been inserted into the starting lineup. Trust me, I love Foote to death but to disrupt the chemistry of a team that has won 16 games in a row in a do-or-die game is wrong. Going against two 7-footers, head coach Steve Donahue might have been gotten unsure of his lineup and inserted Foote to replace Tyler or Hartford. But, bringing Foote off he bench has been the Red’s winning formula since Jan. 6 when they lost its last game to Duke… If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Keys to the game:
Rebounding: The Cardinal is regarded as one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. The Red happen to struggle when playing teams that rebound well – for example, Ohio and Syracuse. It will take a big effort from the team to make sure that the rebounding deficit isn’t more than double-digits.
Foul Trouble: Without Brook Lopez, the Cardinal can be beat my many teams. Just ask Siena who pulled of the upset victory this season when the future NBA lottery pick was academically ineligible. If sophomore Louis Dale can draw contact when penetrating or junior Adam Gore can get them in foul trouble with his trademark pump fakes, the Red’s chances of winning will definitely increase. The less we see of the Lopez twins, the better.
Transition Buckets: Both teams struggle to score in the half court offense. The Cardinal does because of its inability to threaten teams with the perimeter jumper. Many opposing guards sag down and try to discourage Stanford’s guards from throwing the ball in the post. The Red also struggle in the half-court as well. The team that is able to get rebounds and take quick shots in transition will have an advantage.