Leonard leads San Diego State to the big dance – LA Times

By Chris Foster
Los Angeles Times

Top-seeded teams

No. 1 Kansas: Guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich turned their backs on the NBA draft to get another crack at an NCAA title. The Jayhawks begin the tournament as the top-seeded team overall.

No. 2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are not the biggest team but cause match-up problems by starting five players between 6 feet 5 and 6-8, four of whom can play guard.

No. 3 Georgetown: The paranoia should be with the Hoyas’ opponents. Georgetown has a solid backcourt and a dominating big man. Sound familiar?

No. 4 Maryland: The Terrapins were building to a hot finish, then were dumped by Georgia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal. They could meet again in this regional’s final.

Cinderella search

Oklahoma State has beaten Kansas and Kansas State this season, so top-10 teams won’t awe the Cowboys, who can put up points in a hurry.

Top players

Evan Turner, guard/forward, Ohio State: Turner carried the Buckeyes through the Big Ten tournament, which should improve his NBA draft status. But, really, how much higher can he go? The 6-7 Turner is already projected as the No. 2 pick.

Greivis Vasquez, guard, Maryland: Vasquez, from Caracas, Venezuela, is the only player in ACC history to have 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds. A few NCAA victories here and he becomes a Terrapin legend.

Greg Monroe, center, Georgetown: This wouldn’t be a truly great Hoyas team without a beast of a big man. Monroe is the latest to pick up the Patrick Ewing legacy. He averages 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game.

Rim shots

The regional features three players of the year from power conferences: Turner, Vasquez and James Anderson of Oklahoma State. Anderson averages 22 points per game. He had 27 points in the Cowboys’ upset of Kansas and 30 in his team’s upset of Kansas State.

San Diego State is led by 6-7 freshman Kawhi Leonard, the team’s leading scorer (12.8) and rebounder (9.9). But, come on, how far does Coach Steve Fisher think a freshman can take a team in the NCAA tournament?

Twice Ohio has needed to win only one game to get to face the Ohio State University in the tournament. But Ohio lost to Georgia Tech in 1960 and Louisville in 1961. The two teams could meet in the Sweet 16 this season. If Ohio gets there, it will be because guard Armon Bassett continues to sizzle. He is averaging 29 points in the last four games.

Lehigh, making its fourth tournament appearance, has never been given much of a chance. The Mountain Hawks were matched against Georgetown, a No. 1 seeded team in 1985, and Temple, a No. 1 seeded team in 1988. Lehigh would have played No. 1 Kentucky in 2004, but it lost to Florida A&M in the play-in game.

Updated March 14, 2010