Thursday, March 19, 2009

Men's Basketball Preview

What: NCAA Tournament East Regional First Round Game

Who: No. 13 seed Portland State (23-9) vs. No. 4 seed Xavier (25-7)

When: Friday, March 16, 4:25 p.m.

Where: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID

On the air: TV: CBS/ KOIN 6, radio: 800 AM (KPDQ)

2008 Tournament History:

No. 3 seed Xavier lost to No. 1 seed UCLA 76-57 in West Regional Final. Defeated Georgia, Purdue, and West Virginia.

No 16. Portland State lost to No.1 seed Kansas 85-61 in the South Regional first round.

Just a taste: The Musketeers of Xavier enter the big dance as regular season conference champion of the Atlantic 10 conference and are ranked 22nd in the coaches polls.

Their last game was a two-point loss to Temple in the A10 conference tournament semifinal. Temple went on to win the tournament securing an NCAA tournament berth.

Xavier has an impressive tournament resume with victories over last year’s National Champion runner-up, Memphis, and SEC conference champion Louisiana State. Notable losses for the Musketeers from teams competing in the NCAA tournament include an 18-point loss at Duke and a nine-point loss to Butler.

Two-time Big Sky tournament champion Portland State will come to Boise riding a season high six-game winning streak.

The Vikings were surprised by a No. 13 seed from the tournament committee after last year’s drawing of a 16 seed and a date with eventual tournament champion Kansas.

Portland State’s victory at Gonzaga stands out as the biggest win for the season while a one-point loss to PAC-10 regular season champion Washington shows that the Vikings can compete with teams that were given high seeds in the tournament. Washington, like Xavier, is a No. four seed in the West Regional.

Stars: Xavier has three starters that average double digits in scoring. Senior B.J. Raymond leads the team in scoring averaging 14 points per game, while forwards Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson score 13.8 and 10 points each contest respectively. The Musketeers rely heavily on their rebounding. They are eighth in the country in total rebounds while holding opponents to an average of 62.3 points a game.

BJ Raymond

The Vikings will be led by senior captain and Big Sky tournament MVP Jeremiah Dominguez. Dominguez has scored in double digits in the last five games averaging 16.8 points in those games.

PSU will also rely heavily from fellow starting guard and senior Andrew Murray, who played a significant role in getting the Vikings back to the big dance for the second year in a row. Starting forward Phil Nelson and Jamie Jones will also need productive games for the Vikings to get the upset over Xavier. Both players struggled with scoring in the conference tournament.

X-Factor Matchup: Xavier’s Bench vs. Portland State’s Bench

The Vikings look to have a much deeper bench than the Musketeers. Junior guard Dominic Waters and forward Julius Thomas have developed a nice two-man game that has been difficult for defenders to stop. Waters is a threat from the outside while Thomas is a force underneath the basket. No player from the Xavier bench averages more than five points a game.

Written by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

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