I am somewhat humbled by the results on Thursday, I remain undeterred. Texas Tech had an excellent shot to defeat Duke and Arkansas just played like Gonzaga was wearing Georgia jerseys. The Razorbacks were not intimidated at all.
On the slate we have some very intriguing matchups on Sweet 16 Friday. Here are my players to watch as they lead their teams into the elite eight!
Martin had a big time reputation as a scoring lead guard coming into the season but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Most fans thought Martin replacing departed defensive wizard Marcus Garrett would be a big upgrade on the offensive end. Instead, Martin has averaged 5.5 fewer points per game this season and came off of the bench for 13 games. During those 13 games, Martin has averaged a paltry 6.8 points per game but is starting to turn it around.
In the Jayhawks’ two NCAA Tournament games this season, Remy has averaged 17.5 points per contest and over 59% from the field overall. His field goal percentage is fifteen percentage points higher than the regular season while his 85.7% free throw percentage is ten percentage points higher. Granted, the sample size is small, but the senior guard appears to be locked in during the tournament while embracing his “spark plug” role.
Ultimately, this is going to be the “everyone has a good game” game for Purdue as this Saint Peters story is about to come to an abrupt and brutal end. However, Williams is the pick simply because the Peacocks just don’t have the muscle inside to match up with him. While that is common of almost any team in the nation, I think this is also an opportunity for a guy like Zach Edey to rest his giant, weary bones. That is purely speculation on my part of course.
Williams is fresh off of dominating the formidable Texas Longhorns front line to the tune of 22 points and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes in the round of 32. He should not have any issue against a Saint Peters front line that doesn’t boast a player over 6’8, 245. That player is Clarence Rupert and he only plays roughly 13 minutes per game. The Drame brothers are the primary big men for the Peacocks and they weigh in around 200lbs soaking wet. This game could be ugly.
Armando Bacot-Forward-North Carolina
I said I was putting my money on guards for Thursday’s games, well I am moving to forwards on Friday. While North Carolina has received inconsistent play from Caleb Love and Ricky Davis in their first two tournament games, ‘Mando has been fantastic.
Bacot is averaging 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game in the Heels somewhat surprising run thus far. While the front court he faces in UCLA is not without talent, he is easily the best big man on the floor. The Bruins are going to try and slow this game way down while Carolina is one of the most uptempo teams left in the dance.
Assuming that UCLA will be at least less than 100% with Jaime Jacquez nursing a bum wheel, the Heels will be able to push at times, feed Bacot on the secondary break and get him to the line. Bacot shot 15 free throws against Baylor, if he gets there and makes more than seven of them, Carolina wins this game by double digits.
Izaiah Brockington-Guard-Iowa State
Despite having earned a spot in this season’s Sweet 16, the Cyclones have accomplished the feat with a less than stellar Brockington. This is a “he’s due” play more than anything as the All-Big 12 selection is simply too good to be down for too long.
Brockington averaged roughly 17 points and 7 rebounds this season while shooting 45% from the floor and nearly 37% from distance. So far during the dance he is shooting just 10-31 from the field with just six total rebounds and a 1-4 assist to turnover ratio.
In Miami Brockington faces a team that ranks just 298th in the country in effective field goal percentage defense and 265th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage defense. While the Cyclones are not exactly world beaters on the offensive end, these metrics should spell success for Iowa State as they continue their run into the elite eight.
Check out some of our other NCAA Mens Basketball articles for more info on March Madness!!