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Patrick Creaven Returns: more stuff! more stuff! more stuff!

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Once again, we thank Patrick Creaven, Sports Editor for The Daily 49er for providing insight into the Long Beach State 49ers. Thanks, too, to RTT reader and prodigious commenter Aerobab, who provided the second set of questions.

Aerobab: The 5-12 pairing has traditionally been one of upset.  In the last 6 years there have been 11 such upsets out of 24 possible (46% upset rate) with at least 1 upset per year dating back to 2001.  In a "friendly wager" (obviously no money involved), do you pick LBSU to upset UT?  Do you foresee any other potential major upsets in this tournament?

PC: If someone put a gun to my head and said pick a winner, I would quickly say Tennessee. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say LBSU has a 20 percent chance of pulling off the upset. The only way I see the 49ers winning is if they shoot about 40-45 percent on 3-pointers (which they are capable of doing). A possible major upset could be Oral Roberts over Washington State.

Aerobab: Recently, Tennessee's Dane Bradshaw (Sr., G) was named the Captain of the SI "All-Glue Team", whose members demonstrate leadership (i.e., guts, heart, hustle, selflessness, etc.) on- and off- the court and who are instrumental in maintaining the cohesiveness of the team. This is often the MVP of the team when sheer statistics are thrown to the curb. Who is the "Glue Guy" for LBSU?

PC: It's a very good question, which I think has a surprising answer.

I don't think LBSU has a "glue guy." When you think of a mid-major you think of team with a lot of overachievers that make-up for their lack of talent with hustle. That's not the case with the 49ers. This team does it with talent.

On a much smaller scale, LBSU reminds me of how the Dallas Mavericks used to play a couple years of ago: a high power offense that doesn't give its all on defense. The team's lack of hustle is one of the major reasons why head coach Larry Reynolds hasn't had his contract renewed (which runs out at the end of the season).

This might seem like good news for Tennessee fans, but if the 49ers actually decide to increase their energy level for the NCAA Tournament it could make for a pretty scary team. That's what they did in the second half of the Big West championship game, as they outscored Cal Poly 64-48. (Note: If I had to pick a glue guy I would say Dominique Ricks.)

Aerobab: "The West Coast's Best Backcourt" is a pretty bold statement.  Do you have any idea what metrics were used to come to that conclusion?  How would you rate the Nixon/Johnson duo against the backcourts of the other 47 states?

PC: I think the metrics which were used for that was bull----. Don't get me wrong, LBSU has a very good backcourt (and it's more of a trio with Kevin Houston-Nixon-Johnson), but UCLA proved it had a much better one when the Bruins demolished the 49ers back in December. I'm not sure about the other 47 states, but out West I would say UCLA and Oregon have better backcourts, and an argument can be made that Washington State and USC do as well.

Although (and I know I mentioned this in the last set of questions), I can't underestimate how good Aaron Nixon is. He is probably one of the top-10 shooting guards in the country. He has NBA range, can take the ball to the hoop and is incredibly strong. He is also the 49ers' best defender.

Aerobab: Since the beginning of the season, UT has been not only expected to make the tourney, but to advance in it.  Anything less than a victorious effort in the 1st round would be a major disappointment for the Vols.  What were the season goals for LBSU, and have they been met by winning the Big West Championship?  Aside from the competitive nature of the game, is there any external pressure (fanbase, boosters) on LBSU to win.

PC: The players feel no pressure. LBSU's pressure game was the Big West championship, which they lost last year and were slated as conference favorites going into this year. Who does feel some pressure is coach Reynolds. He was hired five years ago, and since then LBSU has got a new President and Athletic Director. He might have saved his job by winning the conference championship, but beating Tennessee would make it very difficult for the university not to offer him a new contract.

Once again, thanks Patrick! Rocky Top Talk readers, keep an eye out over at The Daily 49er for a guest column I'll be doing for their Thursday edition.