Kansas should cruise in Midwest
Overview: Kansas received the top overall seed and was rewarded with what appears to be the easiest road to the Final Four.
The Jayhawks would face the winner of the UNLV-Northern Iowa game in the second round and then will likely see Michigan State or Maryland with an Elite Eight appearance on the line.
The bottom half of this region is wide open. Ohio State has the nation’s top player in Evan Turner, but the Buckeyes aren’t overly deep and are still vulnerable.
They could face a talented Georgia Tech team in the second round and then may go up against Georgetown, which boasts its own star in Greg Monroe and also isn’t overly deep.
This region is also loaded with pro prospects: Turner, Monroe, Kansas’ trio of Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry and Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal.
Best first-round matchup: No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech — This one could go either way. I’m not sure the Yellow Jackets have anyone to stop scoring machine James Anderson, but then again Travis Ford’s team will have difficulty with the big and athletic frontline that features Lawal and Favors.
Best potential matchup: No. 3 Georgetown vs. 2 Ohio State — These two teams could meet in the Sweet 16. Each has a terrific player — the Hoyas with long and skilled big man Greg Monroe and the Buckeyes with versatile point guard Evan Turner — and neither is blessed with much depth.
Upset special: No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Michigan State — The Spartans scare me this season. Too many issues entering the tourney and not enough quality leadership. New Mexico State is dangerous with the addition of Troy Gillenwater a month or so ago.
Cinderella? No. 11 San Diego State — No one knows much about the Aztecs, but they are talented – as displayed by their run to the Mountain West championship. Kawhi Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas can play with just about anyone.
My pick: Kansas — The Jayhawks just have too much of everything — experience, talent and a nice road to Indianapolis. I’d be shocked to see anyone else come out of this region.
- Can Kansas breeze through the region and live up to its billing with a Final Four appearance? Will the Jayhawks even be tested?
- Love a potential second-round matchup between two of the elite X’s and O’s guys in the country — Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Maryland’s Gary Williams.
- Evan Turner is the front-runner for National Player of the Year. How far will he be able to carry the Ohio State Buckeyes? Could an athletic team — like either Oklahoma State or Georgia Tech — knock off Thad Matta’s team?
- Tom Penders appeared to be on the way out at Houston, but the Cougars pulled off the improbable run to win the C-USA tournament. Can the magic continue?
Top players to watch:
Evan Turner, 6-7, 220, G, Jr., Ohio State
Greivis Vasquez, 6-5, 200, G, Sr., Maryland
Sherron Collins, 5-11, 205, PG, Sr., Kansas
Greg Monroe, 6-11, 245, C, Soph., Georgetown
James Anderson, 6-6, 210, SG, Jr., Oklahoma State
Derrick Favors, 6-9, 240, C, Fr., Georgia Tech
Kalin Lucas, 6-1, 190, PG, Jr., Michigan State
Best Player You’ve Never Heard of: Aubrey Coleman, 6-4, 200, G, Sr., Houston
Overrated: No. 8 UNLV
Underrated: No. 10 Georgia Tech