CBKB: Sizing up the Midwest
By John Rowe
The Record (Hackensack N.J.)
Kansas. Arguably the best team in the country, the Jayhawks have several members who played prominent roles in the national championship run two years ago. Kansas rarely loses its poise, which is mandatory at this time of the year. After a long season, the Jayhawksí talented freshmen arenít playing like rookies anymore. Itís going to take a lot to stop them from adding another title to KUís rophy case.
Georgetown. Kansas and Ohio State are seeded ahead of the Hoyas, but Georgetown is coming off a good showing in the Big East tournament. With the toughest schedule in the country, itís primed for an NCAA run. Greg Monroe is one of the more talented centers in the country, and the Princeton-like offense can be tough for teams to prepare for when they have only a day to do so.
Kansas. The Jayhawks werenít handed a go-straight-to-the-Final-Four ticket by the selection committee. For a No. 1 seed, Kansas has inherited a bracket that contains potential Final Four teams in Ohio State and Georgetown; dangerous teams in Michigan State and Tennessee; and if you catch them on a good night, spoilers such as Maryland and Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks will have to earn their way to Indianapolis.
Tennessee vs. Georgetown. A potential second-round game between the sixth and third seeds. After wins over Kansas and Kentucky, the Vols certainly wonít be intimidated. Tennessee won 25 games, including seven of its last nine. Yes, the Hoyas played well in the Big East tournament and have beaten Syracuse and Duke, both No. 1 seeds, but letís not forget that they lost to Rutgers.
Players to watch
Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Kansas; Evan Turner, Ohio State; Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, Georgetown; Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; Raymar Morgan, Michigan State; Wayne Chism, Tennessee; James Anderson, Oklahoma State; Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech.
Tennessee. Forget the blowout loss to Kentucky in the SEC tournament semifinals. The sixth-seeded Volunteers are a dangerous team. They have beaten Kansas and Kentucky, a pair of No. 1 seeds, and are very capable of surprising Georgetown if both advance. Bruce Pearl is a better coach than some people give him credit for, and his handling of his team after the midseason suspensions was masterful.
Houston. Donít downgrade the 11th-seeded Cougars in their opening-round matchup against fourth-seeded Maryland. Houston has a dynamic backcourt in Aubrey Coleman, who leads the country in scoring with 25.6 points a game, and Kelvin Lewis (15.3. ). Coach Tom Penders is bringing his fourth team to the tournament. If the Cougars can contain Vasquez (19.5), anything is possible.
On to the Sweet 16
Kansas, Michigan State, Tennessee, Ohio State.