Poised and ready vs. peeing in their pants? UConn has overcome the loss of Jerome Dyson and Jim Calhoun has his Huskies ready to roll on the
little girl Purdue Boilermakers, just excited to even be at the Sweet Sixteen party.
Attitude may be the key in this contest. If the Purdue Boilermakers can stay loose and take the nay-sayers words as fuel for the fire, then we see some value in the Moneyline shocker. UConn will need to manage the up and down surges that the Boilermakers are known for.
Husky Nation holds a slight edge in the backcourt with AJ Price, Craig Austrie and Kemba Walker. Walker and Austrie are adequate condiments to the Hot Dog, AJ Price. Price has filled it up for 47 points and 11 assists in the first two rounds and will look to continue his dynamo performances. Chris Kramer has been named a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year so we look for him to be locked up on Price. E'Twuan Moore is an X-factor on the West Lafayette ball club. If Moore can drive and disorganize the solid UCONN defense, we might see a Robbie Hummel "ugly but it works" jumpshot highlight reel.
We would be lying if we didn't say that this game will be about one person, Hasheem Thabeet. The monsterous 7'3" shot blocking machine has proven himself as a scorer at times as well. Purdue will throw a number of bodies at Thabeet but the mainstay will be Nemanja Calasan, who is surrendering a whole half a foot to the ogre in the middle. If Purdue plays with a chip on their shoulders and doesn't shoot over the shot blocker, and gets into him for fouls then the landscape of this game can drastically change. If Tha-beet goes to tha-bench early, expect the momentum to shift and the crowd to side with the underdog, just don't buy into that too much.
Around the web...
- Jeff Washburn; Lafeyette Journal and Courier: Purdue has what it takes to stand in with the oversized Huskies.
- Neil Ostrout; Greenwich Times: UConn will go about their task business as usual.
- Lynn Zinser gets down to the nitty and gritty of the turmoil and distraction surrounding the Huskies as they prepare for battle.
- Mike Anthony; Hartford Courant: Examining the bangers down below the bucket.