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Liveblogging UConn-Purdue at 7 pm ET

26 March 2009

…at WSJ.com. Click here to follow along, and to ask questions of your fearless liveblogger. Should be an intriguing game, two excellent defensive teams, with Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson a potential difference maker as the Boilermakers try to spring the upset.

Great slate of games tonight too. Villanova-Duke is my pick for game of the night, two teams with similar perimeter-oriented styles. Since I picked Villanova to make the Final Four, I’m sticking to my prediction and taking the ‘Cats, led by difference-maker Dante Cunningham, to knock off the Blue Devils.

One note on another marquee game tonight, Missouri-Memphis. Contrary to what everyone in the world is saying, this is NOT a matchup of two of the fastest-paced teams in college hoops. Last year’s Memphis team, with an all-world push-the-tempo point guard in Derrick Rose and a supremely talented finisher on the wing in Chris Douglas-Roberts, was that kind of team. But this year’s squad isn’t. According to KenPom.com, Memphis ranks 170th in the country in Adjusted Tempo, placing them just below the national average. Missouri’s up-tempo reputation is more well-deserved, as the Tigers rank 29th nationally in that department. That’s almost exclusively a function of their 40 Minutes of Hell trapping defense, though, not their offense.

As for Pitt-Xavier, just got off the phone with Pittsburgh mega-fan Dave Dameshek, assuring him that Pitt is the one lock tonight, against the overmatched Musketeers. Given I’m the loon who predicted a Michigan upset over Oklahoma and Player of the Year Blake Griffin, you might want to load up on X.

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