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.
May 22, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
One week ago UMKC announced the addition of a fourth player to the program, as 6-10 forward/center Isaac Kreuer will return to the Kansas City metropolitan area after spending last year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. According to the Kansas City Star, first-year head coach Kareem Richardson has filled out his coaching…
May 22, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
With the loss of four institutions the Colonial Athletic Association has some work to do on the realignment front. Apparently the league has found a new member, as it was reported by the Wilmington Star-News that Elon will officially join the CAA on Thursday. Elon has announced a press conference for 2:00 p.m. EST Thursday…
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the University of Washington announced plans for an alumni basketball game to be held on June 23. Returning for the game will be former Husky stars such as Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Jon Brockman among many. Festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m., with there also being three-point and slam dunk competitions for…
May 22, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Will Yeguete just cannot get healthy. The Florida forward missed the final nine games of his sophomore season with a broken foot and then had to sit out much of February after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee as a junior. He returned to play the final six games of the season. Yeguete underwent more…
May 22, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT
On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title. Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up…
May 22, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT
USA Basketball has released a list of 24 players that will be attending training camp in Colorado Springs from June 14th-19th to try and earn a spot on Team USA for the U19 championships, which take place in Prague from June 27th-July 7th. While there is some solid talent on that roster, it’s not necessarily…
May 22, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT
It’s all-but official now: Mike Krzyzewski will be returning to coach Team USA in the 2014 World Championships in Madrid and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. That’s according to a report from Pete Thamel of SI, who reported over the weekend that Coach K was strongly considering returning to head up the stars…
May 22, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT
On Wednesday afternoon, five-star small forward Theo Pinson officially announced his intentions to stay in-state and attend North Carolina. The Greensboro, NC, native picked the Tar Heels over Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown and Duke. A 6-foot-6 athlete on the wing, Pinson is known for his ability to get up and down the floor and finish around…
May 22, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT
Back in March, former San Diego Torero Brandon Johnson, the school’s all-time leader in points and assists, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his role in a point-shaving scheme during the 2009-2010 season back in March. Johnson was lucky; the state wanted to give him a year. He’ll begin serving his sentence…
May 22, 2013, 10:38 AM EDT
The last that we had heard about the AAC tournament, Mohegan Sun was planning on cobbling together an offer to get bring the ‘old Big East’ to Connecticut to play out their league championship. That does not look like it’s going to end up happening, however. According to a report from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Kyle…
May 22, 2013, 9:47 AM EDT
Enosch Wolf’s suspension from the UConn basketball team has officially been lifted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 7-foot-1 German will be returning to Storrs next season. Wolf was suspended back in February as a result of a domestic dispute where he refused to leave a women’s apartment, pushed her and knocked her glasses…
May 21, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
Butler will begin play in the Big East next season with Hinkle Fieldhouse, its home floor for more than 80 years under renovations that will cost up to $34 million dollars. The university believes the renovations will be complete around November 2014. “The important role our athletic programs have had within Butler’s strategy and national…
May 21, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. — In the Class of 2014, one player who should continue making a name for himself is 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu. He is fresh off his junior season at Fairfield College Preparatory School (Conn.), leading the Jesuits to the championship game of the Class LL. Chukwu is currently on the AAU circuit with Connecticut Basketball…
May 21, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
After spending one year on the coaching staff at LSU, long-time assistant Robert Kirby is once again leaving the SEC, this time to join Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune reports that the first-year LSU assistant resigned as an assistant coach on Monday night in order to take a similar position…
May 21, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins wrapped up a great career with the Fighting Irish earlier this spring. Following her graduation from the University Notre Dame on Sunday, her sports agency, Roc Nation Sports — founded by Jay-Z — rewarded her with a Mercedes Benz. Got surprised with a new mercedes! Thanks so muchto Jay and…
May 21, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
The Connecticut back court was already in good shape with the return of Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. On Tuesday afternoon, Kevin Ollie added to his guard depth with George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah. This news came according to CBSSports.com, who confirmed the transfer through a source. Kromah is graduating from George Washington,…
May 21, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
The field for the Legends Classic has been announced. Pittsburgh highlights the field and will be joined by Stanford, Houston and Texas Tech. Each of the four teams will host a pair on games on campus prior to going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals and the finals. The final two rounds…
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT
Montana announced on Tuesday that Washington transfer Martin Breunig would be transferring into the program. “We are very excited about signing Martin Breunig at the University of Montana,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said in a statement. “He’s a strong, athletic post player, and he really adds good size and strength to our front line.” “We…
May 21, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Kevin Stallings isn’t too happy about Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Vanderbilt head coach has blocked his former player from transferring to Pitt next season. Jeter is a graduate of Beaver Falls HS and announced over the weekend that he would be leaving the Commodores to…
May 21, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT
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