A couple thoughts to wet your appetite prior to tourney time. The nation's leading scorer. One dominating conference. Some players to watch for. The Buckeyes eye a national championship run through one of the toughest regions. Time to get after it!
BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette will have all eyes on him come the Cougars opening round St. Patrick's Day game against Wofford. Averaging nearly 30 points-per-game during his 4th year in Provo, Fredette has had his share of eye popping moments this season. BYU's 12-point win against UNLV in early January, Fredette dropped 39 including 7 of 10 from 3-point land. On the road at Utah, Fredette rolls up the Utes for the first of two times, pouring in 47. In the Cougars two regular season wins against the eventual Mountain West tournament champion San Diego State Aztecs, Fredette went for 68. Wait, did I forget his 52-point performance during BYU's Moutain West tournament beat down of New Mexico? Now with possible matchups against St. John's, UCLA, Gonzaga, and Florida looming, can Fredette lead an undersized BYU deep into the tourney?
Did you really need eleven from the Big East? The 5-10 since January 17th Villanova Wildcats. The 8-8 since mid-January Marquette Golden Eagles, while boasting early season non-conference losses to Duke, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. Georgetown's 10-conference wins, I guess that's about as impressive as their 1-5 record since Valentine's day. All due respect to The Big East Conference, but come on. I'll hold Boston College to the fire for winning just seven of their final fifteen, and Colorado for doing close to the same, but not 'Nova and Marquette? With only five of the conferences sixteen teams at home watching, doesn't it seem like a bit much. Yes the conference is tops in college basketball, but eight or nine would have been just fine. For fans of Big East Hoops, the only thing missing is Madison Square Garden.
If Ohio State is the #1 overall, you could have fooled me. The Buckeyes slated in the East Region don't have it like a typical #1 should. Between Jared Sullinger and Jon Diebler, the Buckeyes have won both the Big 10 regular season championship and the Big 10 tournament championship. A 32-2 record this season is just as impressive as it sounds. 24-Straight wins to open the season, including victories against both ACC and SEC tournament bound teams. However, with landmines loaded throughout the East Region, it doesn't seem like Buckeyes have been rewarded. Winning 18 of their final 19, George Mason is looming as an eight seed. Kentucky and their pressuring defense sitting on a four seed. Xavier's Tu Holloway leading the Musketeers to just three losses since the new year as a six seed. Then we get to the big boys, (2) North Carolina & (3) Syracuse, both teams that can knock off anyone in the country on any given night. Seems to me that a #1 seed shouldn't be treated like this. Especially when the defending champion Blue Devils are looking at a cake walk through the West Region, a gassed UConn team, an overachieving San Diego State team, and the 4-4 in their last 8 Texas Longhorns. Yet again I ask, who's the #1 overall?
Connecticut's Kemba Walker, Wisconsin duo Jordan Taylor & Jon Leuer, and San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard all will play major roles in March. You just saw what Kemba Walker was capable of, if he hasn't played his way into a top five lottery selection, I don't know who has. Walker went off during the Big East tourney, scoring 26 points per game during the Huskies tournament championship run. If Walker is gassed so may be Connecticut, yet if he can put together a couple more games like he just has, walker can carry UConn in March. Wisconsin's Taylor & Leuer, Big 10 1st team All Americans, average close to 40-ppg and close to 12 rebounds per, this type of production in March can give the Badgers the room to make a deep run here. In Wisconsin's victory over Ohio State earlier this season, the two went for 39-points leading the Badgers to a shocking win at home. A couple games like this in the tourney, and Wisconsin will make some noise. When it comes to Kawhi Leonard in San Diego State, he's a legitimate NBA talent. Leonard being coached by former Michigan head man Steve Fisher has been phenomenal this season averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. In three games against BYU, Leonard scored close to 60 points and pulled down 12 rebounds per game. If these players get going, watch for San Diego State, Wisconsin, and UConn to really rip it up.
Get your brackets filled out, we're hours away . . .