Miami of Ohio. 18-14 in the MAC. Luckily won their conference tournament on a bank three pointer at the buzzer. They haven't been to the tournament since some guy name Wally Szczerbiak played there. Oh, and the only time they've ever played the Ducks? 1939. And Oregon whipped them en route to the national title. By all accouts, they are just happy to be here.
Their schedule shows some decent games against tournament teams. Lost by eleven at Kentucky. Lost by two at Illinois. Their only win against a tournament team was against Florida A&M, who just lost the play in game. Nothing too impressive. By all schedule accounts, they are a very average team.
But just what kind of average team are they? You can meet the team on this very cool interactive page. They don't score a whole lot of points. In fact, they rank last out of every team in the bracket in scoring. Moreover, they get the seventh fewest possessions in all of Division I. We know that they are really going to try and slow the game down, control the tempo, and rely on their defense, which was best in the MAC, to keep them in the game. Its really quite a clash of styles.
As for the roster itself, it all starts with Tim Pollitz, a 6'6" forward. He averages 15.9 ppg on the season, and has had a whole string of 20 point games in the WAC. He is also a good rebounder for his size, at almost 6 rpg. Their other big threat is Nathan Peavy a 6'8" center who averages 14 and six. They will probably try to go through him against Oregon's small lineup, so Maarty and Joevan are really going to need to stop him. Michael Bramos is their third option, at 11 ppg, but he shoots the ball at a poor 40%. The rest of the team is comprised of role players, none of whom average mroe than five points or three boards a game.
I think that Miami is a very favorable matchup for Oregon in the first round. Miami runs a man to man defense, but has nowhere near the quickness that Oregon does. The Ducks should be able to get to the hoop early, causing the defense to collapse and opening up the three. If Oregon scores at a decent clip, Miami simply does not have the firepower to hang with them.
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE:
- This game is going to be about tempo, and both sides are going to try to control it. If Miami is allowed to establish a slow tempo, then they have a much better shot of staying in the game. The Ducks need to run on every good opportunity, including made baskets. Also crash the offensive boards hard. It should be easy to have 3-4 guys hitting the glass because if Miami runs off of it then they are playing to the Ducks' tempo and they will not be able to keep up. By expanding the number of possessions in the game, the Ducks make it less and less likely that Miami can score enough points.
- The Ducks need to come out with defensive intensity early. If the Ducks can force a few turnovers, it not only allows them to set the tempo, but to further limit Miami's precious scoring chances.
- Control the boards. Don't be fooled by the stats. Miami is a decent rebounding team, the numbers just don't look gaudy because their possessions are so limited. But everyone in the Ducks lineup can board. Additionally, Miami is one team that will not have a size advantage on the Ducks. So if they put out the effort, they should be able to control here. This creates more chances to run.
- Don't settle for the early three. The Ducks are quicker and much more athletic than the RedHawks. Get to the hole, draw fouls, collapse the defense. Then those outside shots will be wide open.
- The three pointer is the great equalizer in this game, especially if the Ducks aren't shooting well. Miami shoots them decently, but not greatly. They will be content to hoist a lot of them up, just make sure that you have a hand in their face and they aren't easy.
SIX WINS TO GO. LET THE MADNESS BEGIN.
Wednesday evening: previewing the other Pac-10 matchups.