The first set of games for the 2013 NCAA tournament are done, and two teams who were unsure of their opponent can now start putting together a game plan.
In the first game, No. 16 North Carolina A&T nearly blew a lead to No. 16 Liberty. However, a last-chance opportunity from the Flames did not fall, and the Aggies won the game 73-72. The excitement of the school’s first ever win in the Big Dance will not last long, though, as a matchup with top overall seed Louisville now looms.
The next game featured Matthew Dellavedova and No. 11 Saint Mary’s against No. 11 Middle Tennessee. The senior point guard lived up to his billing and delivered 22 points in a comfortable 67-54 victory that put the Gaels through to the second round and into a game against No. 6 Memphis.
Here is what you need to know about the updated matchups.
Note: statistics courtesy of KenPom.com.
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
When: Thursday, March 21, 6:50 p.m. ET
Rick Pitino’s game plan is not going to change much now that he knows his opponent.
The key for Louisville will simply be to keep doing exactly what they have done this entire season. The Cardinals rank No. 1 in the nation in defensive efficiency. If the team plays even halfway up to its potential, the Aggies will severely struggle on offense.
Jeremy Underwood may have delivered a stellar performance off the bench for N.C. A&T, but even if lightning does strike twice, Louisville has the depth to handle a star performer in the second unit.
The picture continues to get bleaker for North Carolina A&T. The team’s guards simply have no chance to stay in front of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, and the Louisville backcourt will control the tempo of this game.
The result of the play-in game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty really did not matter much. The victory earned the Aggies the chance to get blown out by Louisville.
No. 6 Memphis vs. No. 11 Saint Mary’s
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mich.
When: Thursday, March 21, 2:45 ET
While Louisville’s matchup doesn’t change much following Tuesday’s results, Memphis is now facing a wildly different game against Saint Mary’s.
The Tigers have gotten to the tournament through their defense, which ranks 26th in the nation in defensive efficiency. The team’s offense is not terrible, but its strength is on the other end of the floor.
Middle Tennessee also plays extremely tough defense, while Saint Mary’s is fairly average. With that being said, the Gaels are extremely difficult to stop, and Dellavedova's leadership has allowed the team to rank 11th in offensive efficiency.
Memphis will have to figure out a way to get the senior point guard out of his element. His ability to push the pace and find open shots for both his teammates and himself can easily put Saint Mary’s in a position to record an upset.
Instead of facing a defensive battle against Middle Tennessee, Memphis will be taking part in a clash of styles against the Gaels. This should make for a wildly entertaining matchup.
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