NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 23rd, 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

  • Ohio State freshman big man Jared Sullinger was named Sporting News Freshman of the Year. Sullinger averages 17.1 points per game for the nation’s top team, and this is far from the last piece of hardware he’s going to receive from this season’s efforts.
  • Remember John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe? Well, this year, Kentucky has Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. John Calipari has mastered the art of turning freshmen into NBA prospects.
  • Darius Johnson-Odom, a native of North Carolina, is making his dream come true playing for Marquette in the Sweet 16. Interestingly enough for Johnson-Odom, Marquette’s Sweet 16 opponent is the North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • Battling a knee injury while being forced to guard the opponent’s top scorer is no easy task, but UNC guard Dexter Strickland has performed the task admirably. While Strickland is not much of a scorer, his defensive tenacity is just as important to the Tar Heels as Tyler Zeller‘s hook shots and Kendall Marshall‘s passing accuracy.
  • Marquette head coach Buzz Williams has been rumored to take the Oklahoma job ever since the Sooner position opened up. If Oklahoma wants to secure Williams’ services, it will have to open up the wallet.

Southeast

  • Butler struggled throughout much of the early portion of the season; however, things began to change for the Bulldogs around February 1. Head coach Brad Stevens attributes this change to the elevation in the play of guard Shelvin Mack.
  • Some may call the swing offense employed by Wisconsin “boring,” but this offense has been effective for Bo Ryan‘s squad for many years. It should not matter if an offense is not very entertaining to watch. What should matter is if it works.
  • Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose has seen his star rise in the coaching world during the Cougars’ magical season. The question emerges of whether Rose will return to Provo next season.
  • After not winning a tournament game since cutting down the nets in 2007, Billy Donovan has his Florida team primed to make another Final Four run. While no players from the ’07 team remain, the program still knows how to get it done late in the tournament.
  • Butler has won several games down the stretch this season, including its first two tournament games. This clutch success can be attributed to the even-keel demeanor that the Bulldogs exhibit throughout the late stages of a game.

Southwest

  • Kansas guard Tyrel Reed may not have the star power of Sherron Collins, but Reed’s longevity and contributions for one of the country’s most dominant teams has enabled him to pass Collins for most wins as Jayhawk.
  • VCU coach Shaka Smart attributes much of his coaching success to his upbringing in Madison, Wisconsin. Smart, 33, also deflected questions about his rising stock among programs looking to fill coaching vacancies, and while guard Joey Rodriguez is hopeful that he will stick around, the reality is that there could be some uneasiness until Smart commits long-term, whether it’s to VCU or a program elsewhere.
  • Richmond president Edward L. Ayers gives a glimpse into how the exposure gained by smaller schools such as his benefit the university on and off the court. The writer notes that Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall said that inquiries and applications to his school skyrocketed after the Eagles upset Louisville.
  • The tournament run Leonard Hamilton has orchestrated at Florida State has Tallahassee buzzing. A dormant fan base, forlorn by an 11-year stretch without cracking the field, is suddenly excited as evidenced by season ticket requests for next season in addition to merchandise sales.
  • Bill Self and a small handful of players on this season’s Jayhawks have fond memories of their last trip to San Antonio, where they captured tournament gold in 2008.

West

  • With Kyrie Irving back in full force, Duke has a more pliable rotation. The Blue Devils have started nine different players this season, and continue to be one of the deepest schools in the country.
  • Duke will face a young Arizona team in Anaheim on Thursday. The Wildcats spent only about 40 hours back in Tucson before flying back out to prepare for their Sweet Sixteen matchup. Sophomore forward Kevin Parrom will play despite a sprained ankle, so keep an eye on his effectiveness.
  • Connecticut‘s younger players have grown up in a hurry. Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi each bring unique components to the table, and when blended, UConn is hard to top.
  • An interesting read comes from Mark Ziegler, who unearths the seeds of this season’s San Diego State squad. It started coming together almost five years ago when assistant coach Justin Hutson came on board as the Aztecs’ recruiting coordinator.
  • SDSU senior forward Billy White, no longer overlooked, looks to make a splash as he closes out his career.  White has been spectacular for the Aztecs his last three games, and his team may need another big day from him to top UConn.
Brian Goodman (782 Posts)

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


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