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Tale of the tape

Round Of 16 Matchup: #1 Arizona Vs. #4 San Diego State

By Shawn S. Lealos
It is said that a good offense may be exciting, but good defense wins championships. If that is the case, this game may not be the most exciting in the March Madness Sweet 16, but it may be the best game of the round. Both teams have average offenses, but lockdown defenses will keep this a low scoring game—one that might be a nail biter.

(credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images) (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images) (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

#1 Arizona

#4 San Diego State

Sean Miller heads to the Sweet 16 as he competes with his brother Archie (Dayton) to see whose team can make it farthest in the NCAA tournament. Ever since taking over for the Gators in 2009, Miller has brought them back to the respectability they once possessed, with three NCAA appearances in five seasons – all reaching at least the Sweet 16. Miller is now hoping to reach the third Elite Eight of his career with a win here. Coaching Steve Fisher is one of the most respected head coaches in college basketball. Fisher has been to the Big Dance 14 times in his career, and this is his sixth time to the Sweet 16. He has his Aztecs in a position now to move the farthest they have since he took over in 1999. Fisher has the experience here.
The Wildcats ranked 113th in the nation through the season, but looked really good in the first two tournament games. After sputtering along to a nine-point win over 16 seed Weber State, they cranked it up and blew out a good Gonzaga team by 23 points. Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson led the way, averaging 34.5 points per game between the two. Offense Ranked 196th in the NCAA in offensive points scored, the Aztecs actually played worse during their March Madness wins. After averaging 70.6 through the season, San Diego State only scored 63 in their win over Cinderella hopeful North Dakota State and 73 in overtime against New Mexico State in the first game. They almost blew the lead in the New Mexico State game, thanks to 39 percent shooting. Xavier Thames (53 points) is their only weapon.
While the Wildcats looked good on offense, they won a lot of games this season thanks to the fifth ranked defense in the country. The first two games of the tournament were about average for them comparatively, as they held the Bulldogs to 40.7 percent shooting from the field. The Wildcats also finished that game with 15 steals and Nick Johnson added four blocks. Defense The Aztecs strength is their defense, which ranks second in the nation (56.6). While their offense struggled, they held New Mexico State to 69 points in overtime and North Dakota State to 44 points in a 19-point blowout win. They may not hold the Wildcats to that low of an output, but if they want to win, it will have to be because of their defense.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the team’s sixth man and plays well, averaging 24.5 minutes and 15.5 points per game from the bench. He also has nine rebounds, three steals and six blocks, as an all around threat. Bench Depth Dwayne Polee is the star player from the bench, averaging 29.5 minutes a game with matching stat lines in each of the teams first two games (15 points, six rebounds).

The winner is

(credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
#1 Arizona
3 out of 4

While this could be the most interesting game of the first day of the Sweet 16, it is not a game Arizona should lose. Honestly, the Wildcats are the best team coming out of the first weekend of college basketball tournament play. These are two solid defenses with average offenses, but Arizona is the better overall team here and might win this game by close to double digits in a low scoring game.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience in the media He covers all things college basketball. Find his work at Examiner.com.

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