NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.22.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 22nd, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • On Sunday, Ohio State blew out a very solid George Mason squad. Because of this, many are wondering if anyone will be able to stop the Buckeyes. It will be almost impossible if they keep putting up performances like Sunday.
  • Former Tennessee point guard Bobby Maze believes that current Ohio State guard Aaron Craft is responsible for turning Bruce Pearl into the NCAA for Pearl’s illegal recruitment barbecue. Maze’s reasoning is that Craft grew upset when the Vols beat the Buckeyes in last season’s Sweet 16. Is Maze simply defending the man who brought him in or is there some truth to his allegations?
  • Kentucky has a storied history of impact freshmen. One publication believes that it must be asked if Brandon Knight is the best freshman in Wildcat history. It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the article is definitely worth a read.
  • Everyone knows North Carolina can score points in transition. Just about every team led by Roy Williams, whether it was his teams at Kansas or those at Chapel Hill since he took over in 2003,  lives and dies by its ability to get up and down the court in a hurry. Marquette head coach Buzz Williams believes the key to his squad’s Sweet 16 matchup with the Tar Heels will be stopping transition opportunities.
  • ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson has some attributes other teams cannot prepare for: timing, instincts, and an 88-inch wingspan. Henson has been a stalwart defending the interior all season and it will be hard for Marquette to drive to the bucket with him standing in the way.

Southeast

  • Butler head coach Brad Stevens is only 34 years old, yet he has already coached in a national championship, won his league title four straight years, beaten Bob Knight, and reached two straight regional rounds. For most coaches, that would be a fairly impressive career, but Stevens is just getting started.
  • The key player for Wisconsin against Butler may be big man Keaton Nankivil. Butler’s big men have the ability to float around the perimeter and Badgers such as Nankivil and Jon Leuer will be tasked with the job of preventing them from getting hot.
  • Less than two years ago, Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The cancer was so severe that he was given a five-in-one million chance of surviving. Rose survived and now he has his Cougars in the Sweet 16.
  • Florida guard Kenny Boynton is not practicing due to a right ankle injury. While there is pain and discomfort, Boynton is fully expected to play against BYU on Thursday. Boynton will be a huge factor in that game, as the Cougars are obviously a guard-oriented team.
  • Last week at this time, many media outlets were picking Belmont to upset Wisconsin in the first round. Presently, Wisconsin is being picked by many of the same outlets to reach the Final Four. It sure is crazy how March Madness works sometimes.

Southwest

  • With Kansas set to face Richmond on Friday, it’s worth noting that the Spiders have a small piece of history as the first team to upend KU at Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era. The players and coaching staff have turned over, and it probably doesn’t make the challenge any easier for Chris Mooney, but it’s an interesting factoid nonetheless.
  • Mooney may be in the money (pow!) after this season, as he’s currently one of the most marketable coaches still alive in the tournament. With a number of high-profile vacancies around the major conferences, the Spiders head coach is sure to get some feelers.
  • Jayhawk point guard Elijah Johnson has to be ready at a moment’s notice in case starter Tyshawn Taylor struggles. Johnson has shown the ability to be a lockdown defender at times, but the sophomore is mostly a facilitator on offense, where KU frequently goes as far as the Morris twins take them. Taylor’s had a bumpy ride, and is as capable of putting up a shiny 20-point line as he is of posting a mistake-filled day that leaves Kansas fans rolling their eyes.
  • Few teams want to face VCU after they bounced a pair of college hoops mainstays, but Florida State doesn’t have a choice. The Seminoles aren’t looking past the Rams as they prepare for a fight on Friday.
  • VCU super fan Chris Crowley shed his role as a manager with the Rams to follow the team and support it boisterously. Crowley has attended over 30 games and is easily the most vocal and devout personality in VCU’s fan section. Wild Bill, check your rearview.

West

  • Duke sharpshooter Andre Dawkins has regained his stroke over the last few weeks after a short slump. He’s also developed in other areas and has an ability to finish at the rim that he didn’t have as a freshman.
  • It’s been a busy month for former players to take shots at Duke. Jalen Rose sounded off in ESPN’s Fab Five documentary about Mike Krzyzewski‘s recruiting styles earlier in March, and now, former Arizona players are leery about Coach K’s success giving way to favorable calls for the Blue Devils. The target on its back is nothing new for Duke, however.
  • San Diego State is a team capable of putting the brakes on Connecticut‘s hot streak, and Jim Calhoun acknowledges the Aztecs as a “Big East-type team.” SDSU is second in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings, and Kemba Walker will be its toughest test since defending Jimmer Fredette.
  • According to Matt Norlander, D.J. Gay is the most underrated point guard in the country. If SDSU turns the trick of sending the Huskies home, you can count on more people knowing his name.
  • Despite being double-digit underdogs, Arizona has the weapons to best Duke in Anaheim Thursday night. The city is obviously much closer to Tucson than it is to Durham, so the Wildcats may have an advantage, but Duke is a #1 seed for a reason.
Brian Goodman (743 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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