Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NCAA Tournament Preview - West Region

The South Region is full of teams that minimize possessions and crash the boards hard. Its hardly the flashiest group and it shows with the lack of NBA talent. Unlike the other regions where I had no trouble picking out a couple of games to watch each round, the Round of 64 won't provide an intriguing matchups.

Belmont does have a chance to pull off some upsets and Kerron Johnson would play a big part in it. Johnson has zero draft hype, but is an interesting player to keep an eye on. He's a prime candidate for the Portmouth Invitational in April.

While the initial round won't be much to look at, a potential meeting between Steven Adams and Kelly Olynyk for the right to go to the Sweet 16 could be good. The two centers couldn't be more different, but both have lottery talent and haven't had a chance to play against many players their size. Adams most likely doesn't declare this year, but is a excellent presence on the defense end who could give Olynyk trouble. Meanwhile, Olynyk has the ability to get Adams in foul trouble quickly and keep him off balance by stepping outside of the paint. A final four run for Gonzaga could very well move Kelly Olynyk to the lottery. Olynyk is the kind of prospect that you will hear varying opinions about - some say second round, others view him as a lottery guy. But it doesn't matter if some think he's a second rounder if there are teams that fall in love with him in the top 20 - which is likely to happen.

We could also see Jack Cooley against Deshaun Thomas face off if Pittsburgh and Ohio State meet. Thomas is an excellent shooter with unwavering confidence. He can make shots under tons of duress and rarely turns it over because he doesn't need to put the ball on the floor - wherever he catches the ball is a fine spot to pull up from in his mind. Thomas has shown more toughness this year as he has been asked to cover big men and Jack Cooley will be one of his toughest tests to date. Cooley looks like Luke Harangody, but gets most of his offense by working the glass. He's a great post defender near the paint and has a high basketball IQ. The task of chasing around Deshaun Thomas through screens will be a daunting task for him however.

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