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NCAA Tournament Preview: Southwest Region

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 11:25pm

Why Kansas will make the Final Four...

Marcus MorrisMarcus MorrisBecause nobody can guard one Morris, how are they supposed to guard two? The twins (Marcus and Markieff) present unsolvable matchup problems, especially in a region where the two seed is Notre Dame and the four seed is Louisville- two teams that lack size and strength in the front court. Kansas surrounds the Morris twins with senior leadership, freshman talent and a champion head coach. With Tyshawn Taylor's ability to penetrate, Brady Morningstar's three point ball and freshman Josh Selby's scoring instincts, Kansas has strong depth covering every facet of the game. There's a reason they only lost twice all season.

The best non-number one seed...


Purdue's dynamic tandem of ETwaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson make the Boilermakers a threat to beat anyone, like they did on February 20th when they took down Ohio State by 10. I worry about Louisville's offense, which sputters at times without a true scorer and leading rebounder Rakeem Buckles out with a torn ACL. I worry about Notre Dame's non-existent interior game and one dimensional offense that is so reliant on their ability to knock down threes. And I worry about everyone else because truthfully none of them are that good.

Overall Sleeper:

The Hoyas get point guard Chris Wright back into their lineup, who is the true conductor of Georgetown's orchestra. Without Wright, let's face it- they stink like a foot. With him, they're capable of going on runs and I'm not talking about a jog around the block. They won eight straight from January to February, including wins at Villanova and Syracuse, and wins over St. Johns, Louisville and Marquette. Between Wright, first team Big East guard Austin Freeman and Jason Clark, Georgetown could be the sneakiest team in the Southwest.

Sweet 16 Sleeper

Richmond

The Spiders will be a popular pick to advance a few rounds this March, after winning their conference tournament and drawing a vulnerable five seed in the first round. Richmond has already defeated Purdue earlier this season, so if you don't think they have the marbles to knock off Vanderbilt and Louisville- think again. {Player: Justin Harper] is one of the toughest inside/outside matchups around, as the Commodores probably already know.

Final Four Sleeper

JaJuan JohnsonJaJuan JohnsonPurdue seems to be the only team that has a chance against Kanas, who will have JaJuan Johnson (20 ppg, 8rpg, 2.3 bpg) patrolling the paint against the Morris boys. Guard E'Twaun Moore is also capable of taking over games, as he did when he scored 38 points in last month's win over Ohio State. In Kansas' two losses to Texas and Kansas State, they shot a combined 9 for 34 (26%). If the Boilermakers can guard the three, limit one of the Morris twins and pray Moore is in the zone, they'll have a shot at representing the Southwest region in the Final Four.

Top Potential Matchup

The top potential matchup in this region would be Purdue vs. Notre Dame in the Sweet 16. The Irish don't have an answer for JaJuan Johnson inside, and you have to wonder if they have anyone to lockdown E'Twaun Moore. On the other hand, Notre Dame has done a great job of spreading the floor with Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Scott Martin and Carleton Scott, all of whom can knock down threes. Both teams lack depth, and rely heavily on their starters to carry the load. One of the top teams from the Big East against one of the top teams from the Big Ten, Purdue and Notre Dame would make for an entertaining Sweet 16 matchup.

Top First Round Matchup

Richmond vs. Vanderbilt

This game just fits the description for the inevitable 12 over 5 first round upset. Underachieving Vandy finished their season losing three of their last four, while Richmond ran the table in the Atlantic 10 tournament. The Commodores are extremely reliant on SEC leading scorer John Jenkins, forward Jeffrey Taylor and center Festus Ezeli, and will need all three to produce in order to avoid a an early exit. Richmond's Justin Harper is emerging as a star in his senior season, who along with point guard Kevin Anderson make for a tough one-two punch.

Top Coach

Rick Pitino

Rick PitinoRick PitinoLook at that Louisville roster. Leading scorer Preston Knowles was a role player for three years and now he's a go-to player. Peyton Siva is in his first year as a starting point guard. Forward Terrance Jennings is limited offensively, and forwards Kyle Kuric and Mike Marra are one dimensional. Yet Louisville remained ranked in the top 25 all year without any expectations entering the season, before recently advancing to the finals of the most competitive conference tournament around. Pitino remains the only coach in history to take three separate programs to the Final Four, but should have his hands filled this year with a potential matchup with Kansas in the Sweet 16.

Sleeper Coach

Mike Brey

Recently named National Coach of the Year, I guess he's not so much a sleeper Coach in this year's bracket. But if he found a way to improve his team after losing Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson, then why not believe he's got something up his sleeve for the next few weeks.

Top Five Prospects

1. Marcus Morris, PF Kansas
Morris has evolved into a collegiate star, and one of the most "sure thing" prospects in the country. He's shown there's nothing he can't do from the power forward position, whether it's rebounding, scoring in the paint, posting up or spotting up from outside. Though his ceiling isn't as high as some of the other lottery prospects, his size and stroke make him an excellent candidate to be a reliable pick and pop player at the next level.

Chris SingletonChris Singleton2. Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
Singleton improved his offensive skillset, and as a result it's made him an awfully attractive prospect, and I say that in the straightest way possible. The guy could defend a bear, and now with the ability to knock down the three, he'll have NBA teams' attention come June.

3. Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
Seeming to improve with each month, Markieff Morris has transformed himself into a legit NBA prospect. He's shown great touch in the lane, while shooting 40% from behind the arch. He's actually an inch or two taller than his brother at 6'10, which helps make up for a more limited offensive repertoire. In only 24 minutes, Morris average 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

4. Kenneth Farried, PF, Morehead State
An absolute monster in the paint, Farried averages 17.6 points and 14.5 rebounds, 6 of which come on the offensive glass. He leads the country in rebounding, and displays explosiveness and great hands around the rim. With the ability to run the floor, his game should translate nicely to NBA play. Given the amount of teams that could use depth in the front court, like the Knicks for example, Farried should find a home before Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver takes the podium for the second round.

5. Justin Harper, PF, Richmond
After leading Richmond to an Atlantic 10 tournament championship, Harper is starting to make some noise on scout's draft boards. Listed at 6'10, Harper has morphed into one of the most consistent shooters in the country, converting at a remarkable 46% rate from downtown, 54% from the floor and about 79% from the stripe. His post game is coming along, and with explosiveness and impressive overall mobility, Harper has the potential to develop into a terrific NBA player.

Honorable Mention **


Jeffrey Taylor, F, Vanderbilt
JaJuan Johnson, PF/C, Purdue
Josh Selby, SG, Kansas
Khris Middleton, F, Texas A&M
Peyton Siva, PG, Louisville

Breakout Player

Justin HarperJustin HarperJustin Harper, F, Richmond

After performing in small-town theaters and hole-in-the-wall bars, Harper will finally take his act to the Broadway stage. He's having one of the most efficient years of any forward in country, averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds on 46% from downtown. With two winnable games in sight, Harper has the chance to do some real damage early on.

Best Player with Limited NBA Potential

Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame

Though he'll get some looks in the second round, his body and physical tools just aren't ideal for the NBA. Some may disagree, but could you imagine him trying to guard quicker point guards like Jennings or Westbrook? Or even average backups like Ramon Sessions or Toney Douglas? In order for him to see minutes at the next level you'd have to imagine him guarding guys like that, because I'm not sure he's capable of guarding 6'5, strong and explosive NBA shooting guards. Yes he can shoot, and his vision and passing ability aren't too shabby either, but so were hundreds of other college guards who now find themselves sipping expresso and eating Gelato at your local coffee shop overseas.

yunie_
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the game is sensational..

the game is sensational.. great analysis and report as well. nbadraft rocks!

how to win him back

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