Thursday, March 24, 2011

NCAA Sweet Sixteen: Stepping Up

The pressure turns up now that these teams are in the Sweet Sixteen and it takes a full team effort to advance as the quality of opponent teams face increases exponentially.  These are the men that must step up today in order for their teams to advance.

Leonard must produce for the Aztecs to win.
No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 2 San Diego State

#15 Kawhi Leonard - Forward
6-7 225 Sophomore Riverside, CA
15.6 ppg 10.6 rpg 1.5 spg, leads team

Strong on ball defender, better help defender.  He and forwards Malcolm Thomas and D.J. Gay will have to protect the paint and limit the drives of UConn's Kemba Walker, because there is no guard in the country that can stay in front of Walker man-to-man.
Leonard is a solid ball handler that can grab the defensive board and start transition offense.  They will need him to drive the paint when he receives the ball on the perimeter rather than settling for jumpshots, as he only shoots 29-percent from 3-point and it's not really his game.

No. 3 Brigham Young vs. No. 2 Florida

#1 Kenny Boynton - Guard
Can the athletic Boynton end the Jimmer Show?
6-2 183 Sophomore Pompano Beach, FL
14 ppg 33-percent 3-point

Boynton forms a solid backcourt with All-SEC guard Erving Walker and is instrumental on defense as the 5'8" Walker does not defend bigger guards very well.  Boynton will be asked to defend BYU's Jimmer Fredette, a threat to score as soon as he enters the arena and the nation's leading scorer.
No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 1 Duke

#23 Derrick Williams - Forward
6-8 241 Sophomore La Mirada, CA
19.1 ppg 8.2 rpg 60-percent field goal
Williams has elite NBA talent.

Williams is slated to be an NBA Lottery Pick, and his tournament performance could convince NBA GMs to select him No. 1 overall, much like how Memphis guard Derek Rose jumped Kansas State forward Michael Beasley in 2008.
Duke is a perimeter oriented team that relies heavily on getting offensive rebounds and second chance points.  The Wildcats will need Williams to dominate the glass and limit the Blue Devils' opportunities.
No. 8 Butler vs. No. 4 Wisconsin

#30 Jon Leuer
6-10 228 Senior Orono, MN
18.7 ppg 7.3 rpg, leads team

Leuer might be the toughest player left in the tournament to defend off the pick-and-roll as he is comfortable extending out to the 3-point line (38-percent) and is good and finding teammates cutting to the basket for open layups.  He will be a problem for Butler big men Matt Howard and Andrew Smith who could end up getting into foul trouble trying to defend Leuer and Badger guard Jordan Taylor.

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