Part two of our in depth investigative series features questions served up by BC All Access. As you read these, stop to contemplate these two fine universities shared dislike of Notre Dame. See everybody, it is a small world after all!
UPDATE: Here are BC All Access's Answers:
BC started out the season next to last in the ACC so it would appear that expectations were not high. Outside of the signature wins against UNC and Duke what were two high points in BC's season?
1) What had been the key to USC's defensive success this season?
In the past two seasons USC has finished ranked in 25 in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency stat, and the Trojans are currently ranked 20th. A small part of it is obviously the players as the team has great size and athleticism. In particular, Daniel Hackett is an incredibly aggressive on the ball defender, and his large size (6'5"-6'6") is often disruptive for smaller guards. Taj Gibson is also one of the nation's premiere shot blockers, and his excellent timing and length lead to a lot of altered shots. But most of the credit has to go to Tim Floyd. He gets the players to play hard on both sides of the ball, and although SC plays man most of the time, he has shown that he is willing to take risks on the defensive end, just look at last years near infamous use of the triangle and two to hold Memphis to their lowest regulation scoring output of the season or last weeks spontaneous use of the full court press to turn the tide against Arizona State in the Pac 10 championship game.
2) What has been the difference between the team's poor February and red hot March?
Would it be an anticlimax if I said a lot of it was due to random chance? SC came out on the wrong end of a few close games, and other times they just had second half breakdowns against teams they had an excellent chance to beat. A small factor though was the fact that the team is mostly healthy now and that many of the players, Demar Derozan in particular, are playing at the top of their games. It is especially nice to see Dwight Lewis once again willing to take, and even occassionally making, a couple of crucial shots. I swear, he was playing some psychological mind torture games in his head the whole second half of conference play.
3) Demar Derozan has really played up to his potential of late, how can BC stop him?
The best way to stop Demar Derozan is to make it difficult to move around the court. Although he showed bits of his ballhandling ability against Cal, he mostly plays off the ball and looks for cutting lanes, put back opportunities, and long open jumpers. Defenders tend to relax a little bit in the areas near the perimeters as many consider this a bit of a no man's land, but this is where Derozan makes his money. The down side is that if BC is using a player to harass him around the entire court then they need to assign a help defender on the interior in case Derozan makes it by the first man. All in all though, the above is the best way to stop him, keep up the pressure and the ball might not even get into his hands.
4) Prediction for the game?
Like in the other Q&A I have to go with a close SC win. The advanced metrics favor SC, and the teams matchup well (at least size wise) overall. Its going to be a tough game, and the Trojans will need to show up and play the all 40 minutes if they want to win, but everyone plays at full throttle come tournament time. USC by a couple of baskets.