The Arizona Wildcats began the year 21-0, then lost one of their best players in Brandon Ashley. Sean Miller”s team lost then two of their next four games but now they have seemed to figure out how to play without Ashley, although they did lose in the Pac 12 Championship Game. The Wildcats have looked more comfortable over time while realizing Ashley is no longer on the court with them. Arizona, my pick to win it all, is the number one seed in arguably the weakest region. Many believe their toughest game will potentially be their 3rd round game against 9 seed Oklahoma State and Marcus Smart. Also featured in this region is Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who has the chance to move up a few spots on the NCAA’s career scoring list.
Must-watch games/potential games
7 Oregon v. 10 BYU- Can BYU win a game in the tournament without Kyle Collinsworth, arguably their most valuable player? It will be interesting to find that out. Look for Matt Carlino to increase his role against the Ducks.
1 Arizona v. 9 Oklahoma State- Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash, Nick Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Kaleb Tarczewski…that is a Final Four type cast of players. That one will be fun…if the Cowboys can get past Gonzaga.
11 Nebraska v. 3 Creighton- Not much needs to be said here. Nebraska’s only two Division I schools have the opportunity to win the state.
11 Nebraska v. 6 Baylor- I mean it’s Scott Drew vs. Tim Miles…after this year, I know who I’d choose. Nebraska will have to overcome a lot of talent against the Bears though.
13 New Mexico State v. 4 San Diego State- No one can match up with New Mexico State’s mammoth Center, Sim Bhullar, if they can get him the ball a lot and he plays well, the Aggies might be able to knock off Steve Fisher’s club.
Top 5 Players
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton- No surprise he’s on this list. McDermott is without question the National Player of the Year.
2. Cory Jefferson, Baylor- Jefferson is a big-bodied player who can score from around the basket and also has a nice mid-range jumper.
3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State- After being suspended for three games in Feburary, Smart has shown why he is one of the best players in the country during games against Kansas and Iowa State.
4. Nick Johnson, Arizona- Seeing Nick Johnson and Marcus Smart go after each other would be a very entertaining Round of 32 matchup. Johnson can defend, shoot, drive, and jump out of the gym.
5. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma- The Sophomore Guard for the Sooners earned himself a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team this season.