Friday, March 25, 2011

NCAA Sweet Sixteen: Bracket Busters

Calm under pressure
No. 11 Marquette vs. No. 2 North Carolina

#5 Kendall Marshall - Guard
6-3 186 Freshman Dumfries, VA
6.2 ppg 6.1 apg

The Tar Heels were point-guard-by-committee for the first 21 games of the season until Marshall emerged.  His first game playing significant minutes came Feb. 6 against Florida State in Tallahasee. Marshall dimed 16 assists on the Seminoles; the all-time single game record for a UNC player in an ACC game.  The freshman point possesses poise beyond his years and has been unflappable so far in the tournament.  The Tar Heels will need Marshall to settle down the offense and not get into a shoot out with a Marquette team that likes to make you play in a hurry.

No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 1 Kansas

#21 Markieff Morris - Forward
6-10 245 Junior Philadelphia, PA
13.9 ppg 8.3 rpg

The more low-post oriented of the Morris twins.  Coming off a 24-point 12-rebound performance against Illinois in the round of 32, Kansas must continue to feed its hot hand.  The Jayhawks can kill the will of the upstart Spiders by pounding them inside where they don't really have much depth.  Dominant inside play by Markieff and his brother Marcus will lead to double-teams in the post and kickouts to the perimeter that will give Kansas shooters Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor plenty of open looks.

Buford can kill you from anywhere on the floor.
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Ohio State

#44 William Buford - Guard
6-5 205 Junior Toledo, OH
14.6 ppg 4 rpg 3 apg

Buford is the jack-of-all-trades for the Buckeyes and the team's most athletic guard.  He can hurt you on offense from either guard position.  He creates a matchup problem with his size as he has the ability to rise and shoot over smaller defenders and is fast enough to penetrate past bigger ones.  Good at drawing help defense and finding David Lighty and Jon Diebler for open 3-pointers on the perimeter or dropping off passes to Jared Sullinger when driving the paint.  You can't play off of him either as he his hitting at 44-percent clip from beyond the arc.  Buford is also the team's best on ball defender and will likely be given the task of staying in front of Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight.

Singleton goes hard in the paint.
No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 10 Florida State

#31 Chris Singleton - Forward
6-9 225 Junior Canton, GA
13 ppg 6.7 rpg 2 spg 1.5 bpg, leads team in all categories

The Seminoles might not have snuck up on anyone by surprise if it wasn't for an injury to Singleton's foot that required him to have surgery after a Feb. 12 game against Virginia.  Many assumed Singleton would be out for the season and that Florida State could not perform well enough without him to make the NCAA tournament since Singleton was playing like an ACC Player of the Year candidate before he went down with the injury.  Despite going 3-3 without their best player, the 'Noles made the tournament, and Singleton returned for the team's opening round game victory against Texas A&M after missing just over a month.  He hasn't returned to full form yet (0 points in 10 minutes against Notre Dame last round) but will be critical in tonight's game against VCU as the Rams will look to forwards Jamie Skeen (15.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Bradford Burgess (23 points and eight rebounds in last round win vs. Purdue) to carry them to the Elite Eight.

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