Mar 22, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT
The details: There are all kinds of intriguing storylines in this region. For starters, there is the potential matchup between Duke and UConn, who have played three times in the tournament, all of which have yielded classic games. There is Sean Miller, who has brought the Arizona program back to national relevancy with a Pac-10 title and a trip to the Sweet 16. Then there is Steve Fisher, the coach that went down with the Fab Five, potentially making his return to the Final Four.
No. 2 San Diego State (34-2) vs. No. 3 UConn (28-9)
Time: 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
No. 1 Duke (32-4) vs. No. 5 Arizona (29-7)
Time: 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS
Team to beat: Duke Blue Devils
I fully expect Kyrie Irving to be close to 100% by the time the Sweet 16 games roll around, meaning that Duke will once again be arguably the most talented team in the country. Kyle Singler was a preseason favorite for national player of the year, Irving was a favorite for national player of the year before he got hurt, and Nolan Smith has emerged as a favorite since Irving was injured. Not many teams can boast that kind of 1-2-3 punch. The problem? Duke’s weakness is on the interior, and the three teams that the Blue Devils can end up facing all have at least one powerful front court presence.
Team with nothing to lose: San Diego State
The Aztecs, despite being the No. 2 seed in the West region, are the underdog heading into the Sweet 16. They play in the Mountain West Conference. They played all of one BCS conference team this season, beating Cal by 20 points. They have a head coach with the reputation of a guy that just rolls the ball out. They were the trendy pick by analysts to get upset in the second round of the dance by Temple. This team has no expectations, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They head into the Sweet 16 playing without pressure.
Players to watch:
- Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: Leonard is one of the most entertaining players in the country to watch, and its a shame that he isn’t known on a more national scale. When dreaming up a prototype small forward, you think of Leonard. He’s 6’6″, he’s got long arms, he’s quick and athletic and explosive. He attacks the glass as hard as anyone in the country, but he can also lead the break when need be. By the time he fully develops, he’s the kind of player that can average 15, 10, 5, 2, and 2.
- Alex Oriakhi, UConn: Kemba Walker is the star. Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, and Shabazz Napier take turns as his sidekick. But Oriakhi may be the most important player on the roster outside of Walker. He’s really the only strong, interior presence the Huskies have. He defends the rim and is one of the best in the country at battling on the offensive glass.
- Derrick Williams, Arizona: Like Leonard, Williams is probably a talent that you haven’t seen enough of this season. He’s a versatile, 6’8″ forward that can score from any where on the floor. He’s been good enough this season to warrant consideration as the No. 1 overall pick come June. And he’ll be a nightmare for the Plumlees to cover.
- Nolan Smith, Duke: I fully expect Kyrie Irving to be back to full strength by the time the Sweet 16 games come around, which puts Smith in an awkward position. Will the senior that has become the team’s leader, star, and is a national player of the year candidate and defending champion be willing to play second fiddle to a freshman with seven games experience?
Coach under pressure: Jim Calhoun
The coach isn’t going to be under pressure as much as the team is. The Big East sent 11 schools to the NCAA Tournament. All but two of them have been eliminated. The other one? No. 11 seed Marquette, playing in the toughest region left. Its too much to say that the fate of the Big East is riding on UConn’s shoulders. But it isn’t too much to say that the Huskies are the conference’s only hope to make the Final Four.
Outcome: Duke is the favorite to reach the Final Four out of this region. But that doesn’t mean that they are going to have an easy road. Derrick Williams will be a matchup nightmare for the Plumlees or Ryan Kelly or Kyle Singler or whoever they end up putting on him. San Diego State’s front line will be even more difficult for Duke to matchup with. Billy White, Kawhi Leonard, and Malcolm Thomas are just that much more physical than Duke’s. Alex Oriakhi is a horse in the paint, and Duke has had issues with players of his ilk this season.
So much of what happens will depend on which Kyrie Irving we see. That said, my money is going to be on the winner of the San Diego State-UConn game.
Jun 19, 2013, 8:06 PM EDT
Villanova landed its first verbal commitment in the 2015 class, as 6-9 forward Tim Delaney committed to the school according to multiple outlets. Delaney, who attends Pitman (N.J.) High School, held offers from schools such as Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers and also visited both Indiana and Butler according to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com.…
Jun 19, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
With talented players such as forward Ryan Anderson and guard Olivier Hanlan returning, there’s a feeling among many that Boston College can be one of the ACC’s most improved teams in 2013-14. A group that has taken its share of lumps in Steve Donahue’s first two seasons on the Heights, the Eagles took both eventual…
Jun 19, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Kentucky Speedway announced on Wednesday that Kentucky head coach John Calipari has been named the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400, which takes place on June 29. In the release, Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger proclaimed the opening lap to be “one of the quickest fast breaks in…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT
With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference will have ten members beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. The arrival of the Tigers not only helps from a scheduling standpoint, but it also necessitated a change in the format the WCC uses for its conference tournament. The WCC announced the changes on Wednesday, with seeds…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
It’s no secret that Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor want to play their college ball together. They’ve been talking about it for a while, and given the fact that they are both ranked in the top three for Rivals Class of 2014 — Okafor is currently No. 1 while Jones is No. 3 — I’m…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT
Earlier this month, Alabama forward Devonta Pollard was arrested and charged in conjunction with the kidnapping of a six-year old girl over a family land dispute. Given that he was facing a serious felony charge, one could only imagine that Pollard would only be a member of the Crimson Tide for so long, and on…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Spike Albrecht spent the majority of the college basketball season as the answer to a trivia question: Who is the little white kid that backs up Trey Burke, the best player in the country? The way the 2012-2013 campaign ended, however, was much, much different. If you’ve forgotten, the kid who was signed late by…
Jun 19, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins has filled out his coaching staff, as he added Armon Gates as his third assistant coach on Tuesday. Gates is a Chicago native that spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola (IL). “We’re very excited to add Armon to our staff,” Collins said in a statement…
Jun 19, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach, will be meeting with the NCAA’s Enforcement staff today to discuss the involvement that Rodney Blackstock had with the former Kansas all-american and those close to him, according to a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today. That could end up being a thorn in the side of…
Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
A recent growing buzzword in college basketball is the importance of the “culture” of a program. Culture within a college basketball program dictates how things work and it’s use as a word and as a concept is meant to influence players — and in some cases fans — into believing that certain activities or teachings…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
Mark Few picked up his first commitment in the Class of 2014 as Portland native and Rivals top 150 shooting guard Silas Melson pledged to the Zags on Tuesday night, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Here’s how ESPN breaks down his game: He has a smooth shooting stroke out to 20-feet and…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title. With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Kansas commit and consensus top high school player Andrew Wiggins decided not to play for the Canadian Under-19 team this summer at next week’s FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. That hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-7 Wiggins from impressing this summer. According to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, sources confirmed that Wiggins participated in his first…
Jun 18, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
We’ve dissected the position that Aaron Gordon will play at Arizona far too often this offseason. Maybe, instead of worrying about whether he’ll be a three or a four, we should sit back and appreciate the fact that he can do this: I mean … I just … wow. Oh, there’s a better angle, too:…
- Report: Devonta Pollard no longer enrolled at Alabama 0
- Communication plays vital role in development of Marquette’s Vander Blue 0
- This week is a very important week for Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA 0
- A broken foot failed to derail C.J. McCollum’s trek to the lottery 0
- The most important skill Michael Carter-Williams learned as a freshman? Work ethic 0
- LIVE: Bruins-Blackhawks, Game 4
- Posnanski: How Heat won a game of mistakes
- PHT: Can Blackhawks solve Rask in Game 4?
- PFT: Report: Hernandez accused of prior shooting
- CSN: Report: Hernandez 'not ruled out' as suspect
- GTC: Tiger pulls out of AT&T citing elbow issue
- HBT: Biogenesis suspensions still likely coming