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Previewing the Second Round: Villanova-UCLA

APTOPIX NCAA Va Commonwealth UCLA Basketball

Although VCU was a trendy pick to upset the UCLA Bruins, eventually the team that has been to three consecutive Final Fours prevailed by just one point.  Since UCLA is on the west coast and not many Villanova fans get to see the Bruins, here is an overview of the team:

Strengths:  The Bruins are a veteran led team.  Seniors Alfred Aboya, Darren Collison and Josh Shipp have been to the Final Four every year of their career.  They lead a team that plays tremendous defense, as they hold opponents to just 63.3 ppg.  On offense UCLA is known for taking high percentage shots and open looks.  They led the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (49.4) and were second in 3-point percentage (39.8).  The Bruins also were second in the conference in scoring at 76 ppg.

Weaknesses:  Although they shoot well as a team, the Bruins do not have many players that can fill up the scoreboard.  Only Shipp and Collison averaged in double figures in scoring this season.  They also struggle with bigger teams because of their lack of height.  Of all the Bruins that are in the rotation, Aboya and Nikola Dragovic are the tallest at 6’9″.  However, Dragovic averaged 13.0 rpg this season, making him a presence despite his height.

Player to Watch:  The man who gets the Bruin offense running is Collison.  Of all the players on the roster, he is the most dangerous when he gets hot.  Although his scoring is crucial, Collison is one of those talented point guards that can win a game for his team without having a high scoring effort.  He rarely makes a bad pass and usually gives his teammates open looks.

What to expect:  This has the looks of what will be a very close contest.  Both teams are very similar in that they are not that big and rely heavily on their upperclassmen.  Villanova does have a little more firepower on offense than UCLA, and that will be the difference.  As we saw yesterday, even if some one like Scottie Reynolds is struggling, Villanova can still win.  UCLA cannot win unless Collison plays a strong game.  The Wildcats have more talent on their roster, and in the end, that should be enough to win the second round game.

-David Cassilo

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Hello, David-

    This was a great concise analysis of today’s game. It was particularly good that you described how Collison can make his teammates better, even when he isn’t scoring points, by providing open looks…

    Also, I agree that there are parallels between the teams – heavy on the upperclassmen, relative lack of size, etc…

    On UCLA – I was impressed with the fact that in spite of the fact that they lost three starters to the NBA draft, they’ve been able to replace their losses so well…

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