2010 NCAA Tournament Preview: Big 12



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2011 NCAA Tournament Preview:
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  1. Baylor (25-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Baylor has a great balance of terrific guard play and size. The Bears are led by junior guard LaceDarius Dunn (19.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and senior point guard Tweety Carter (15.8 ppg, 6.3 apg). The interior presence comes from Ekpe Udoh (13.4, 9.8), a 6-10 junior.

    The Bears shoot the three really well, hitting 39.1 percent as a whole. Dunn (42.4%) and Carter (39.0) are great from beyond the arc.

    The Bears are 7-4 on the road, with an impressive victory at Texas. They also gave Kansas all it could handle in Lawrence.

    WHY TO HATE: Baylor hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1950. That fact has nothing to do with this team, but I thought I’d list it anyway. This Bears squad has no glaring weakness.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: I love this Baylor team, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if they advanced to the Final Four. At the very least, they’ll get to the Sweet 16.



  2. Kansas (32-2)

    WHY TO LOVE: So many reasons why Kansas is awesome:

    – Sherron Collins (15.3 ppg, 4.3 apg) is the best experienced point guard in the NCAA Tournament. He was on Kansas’ championship team and knows what it takes to win.

    – Kansas has tons of experience; they advanced to the Sweet 16 last year and gave runner-up Michigan State everything it could handle.

    – The team as a whole shoots 40.4 percent from three. Collins (37.6%), Xavier Henry (40.7) and Tyrel Reed (44.9) can all drain long-range jumpers.

    – The Jayhawks are a rabid defensive team, allowing just 63.6 points per game.

    – Kansas was 9-2 on the road, losing only at Tennessee and Oklahoma State. Impressive away victories came at Texas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas State and Temple.

    – At 6-11, 245, Cole Aldrich (11.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.5 bpg) is a beast inside.

    – Fulfills all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    WHY TO HATE: Three of the top five scorers are underclassmen. However, everyone but Xavier Henry has Sweet 16 tournament experience, so it’s not that big of a deal.

    THE VERDICT: Kansas is my favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.

  3. Kansas State (26-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Guard play wins in March, and Kansas State has two great ones. Jacob Pullen (18.9, 2.7 rpg, 3.6 apg, 38.0 3PT) is the team’s leading scorer, while Denis Clemente (16.0, 3.9 apg) is a dynamic point guard. Both are experienced; Pullen is a junior and Clemente is a senior.

    Along with Pullen and Clemente, two other players average more than 11 points per game.

    Kansas State was an impressive 8-2 on the road, beating tough teams like Baylor and UNLV outside of Manhattan.

    WHY TO HATE: The Wildcats lack size, so it’ll be tough for them to contend with teams that have both a talented frontcourt and backcourt.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: A Final Four sleeper, Kansas State is a dangerous team that will be playing in the second weekend.



  4. Missouri (22-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: No one wants to play Missouri. They press for 40 minutes and force tons of turnovers against teams with weaker point guards.

    The Tigers as a team shoot 37.2 percent from three-point range. Kim English (37.2%) and Marcus Denmon (42.7%) are lethal from deep.

    WHY TO HATE: The Tigers’ game plan abuses weaker point guards, but teams with a very good floor-general won’t succumb to all the pressure.

    Offensively, Missouri relies on the three-pointer too much. If the Tigers go cold with their long jumpers, they’ll struggle to score.

    All three of Missouri’s top scorers are sophomores. Inexperience will hurt.

    The Tigers violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. They were just 4-6 on the road. Those four wins were against non-NCAA Tournament teams.

    THE VERDICT: How far Missouri goes really depends on which teams they play. If they battle weak point guards, they’ll win games. If they take on a strong point guard and a team ready to handle their press, the Tigers won’t have much of a chance.

  5. Oklahoma State (22-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Guard play wins in March. Oklahoma State has three guards who average in double figures. Most prominent is James Anderson (22.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) who is one of the top players in the nation.

    Those three guards hit 35 percent or better from beyond the arc: Anderson (35.9%), Keiton Page (35.8) and Obi Muonelo (42.9).

    WHY TO HATE: The Cowboys lost point guard Ray Penn in the middle of the season. Fred Gulley took over and has done a good job. However, he’s a freshman, meaning Oklahoma State violates Rule No. 1 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    That’s not the only rule Oklahoma State violates. They were just 3-7 on the road. The Cowboys won at Kansas State, but overall they were unimpressive outside of their own arena. Oklahoma State violates Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: James Anderson is certainly capable of taking over a game and leading his team to a victory, but chances are that Oklahoma State will lose in the first round.



  6. Texas (24-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Senior swingman Damion James (17.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg) is one of the top players in the country. James is one of four Longhorns who average double digits.

    Along with James (39.5%), Avery Bradley (39.3) and Jordan Hamilton (36.7) are lethal from deep.

    The Longhorns rebound really well, thanks to James and Dexter Pittman (10.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Texas started hot, but faded down the stretch. Starting on Jan. 23, the Longhorns went 6-8 to close out the regular season. Part of the reason was the loss of point guard Dogus Balbay. With Balbay out, Texas doesn’t have a true point guard.

    The Longhorns violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. They were just 5-6 on the road. Their only impressive away victory is at Oklahoma State.

    Free-throw shooting is a problem. The Longhorns are 63.3 percent from the charity stripe.

    Three of Texas’ top five scorers are freshmen.

    It seems like Texas underachieves in the NCAA Tournament every year. I’m aware they’ve been to the Elite Eight and Final Four under Rick Barnes, but they continuously disappoint in March.

    THE VERDICT: The Longhorns are a freshman-laden team with no point guard that can’t beat good teams on the road. They’ll be lucky to make it out of the first round.

  7. Texas A&M (23-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Donald Sloan is a very good player. The 6-3 senior guard averages 17.9 ppg and hits 35.4 percent of his threes.

    Texas A&M closed out the regular season with a great 8-2 run, with wins over Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor (all at home).

    WHY TO HATE: The Aggies’ greatest problem is that they have only one reliable scorer. After guard Derrick Roland broke his leg, that only left Donald Sloan. That means they violate Rule No. 6 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Texas A&M was just 5-5 on the road this year, but one of the victories was impressive (at Missouri).

    The Aggies don’t shoot the three well, as the team hits only 33.3 percent of its long-range shots.

    THE VERDICT: One-man teams generally don’t fare well at the Big Dance, so it’s a shame that the Aggies lost Roland for the year. They’re a long shot to make it out of the first weekend.



2011 NCAA Tournament Picks:
Sweet 16 Redo | East | West | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Winning Tips | 2011 NCAA Tournament Home
2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
West | East | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Schedule
2011 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Breakdowns:
West | Southeast |
2011 NCAA Tournament Preview:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mid-Majors | Mountain West | Pac 10 | SEC



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