NCAA Tournament Breakdowns - West, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 19, 2013


Quick analysis of every team in the NCAA tournament so you'll know what you're doing.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tourney

West - Bottom Half


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we're CollegeFOOTBALLNews.com, but like the rest of the world, we take a wee bit of a break for the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Before you fill out your bracket - DON'T GUESS - check out the quick breakdown of each team with what you need to know to make an informed decision. 6. Arizona (25-7)
Here’s The Deal: The Wildcats have the talent to beat anyone - as evidenced by their wins over Florida and Miami early in the year – but once the Pac-12, they weren’t as unstoppable as the 14 straight victories to start the season seemed to indicate. Teams were able to take advantage of their inability to guard the perimeter on a consistent basis and began to have some success simply cranking up more points in shootouts. The result was a second-place finish in a down Pac-12 that seems a bit empty. Still, there’s next-level talent, and if the team gets on a roll like the beginning of the year, there’s a chance to get out of the first few rounds in a relatively light draw. The defense is going to have to come out of the woodwork though, to have any hope of getting to Atlanta.
Player You Need To Care About: Senior guard Mark Lyons gets the spotlight, but the one with more potential to be a difference maker is his fellow senior, forward Solomon Hill. Hill is just the second leading scorer behind Lyons, but his impact is much greater than putting the ball in the hoop, able to create mismatches with his ability to step out deep or get in the lane. He gets more rebounds than his 6-7 frame would suggest and also goes to work on the defensive end.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The talent is there, but they’ll be run out of the gym by a high-powered Belmont team in a first game shocker.

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11. Belmont (26-6)
Here’s The Deal: The Bruins were the best team in the Ohio Valley Conference, earning the automatic qualification by finishing the deal and winning the conference tournament. They love to push the tempo and force turnovers, and they adore trying to make teams pay on the other end by slinging the ball to the open guy who can launch missiles from long-range. They aren’t just lobbing up volumes of shots on offense either like some teams - hitting almost half of the ones they throw up. If everything’s clicking, they can flat-out ruin the day of a higher seed by running by them.
Player You Need To Care About: Senior guard Ian Clark has to be reeled in at all times. Rarely coming off the floor, he’s a bomber from the outside with the smarts and talent to perform blow-bys, get to the mid-range or further and make teams pay averaging over 18 points per game.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Look out. They’re dangerous enough to get by a soft Arizona and throw a scare into New Mexico.

3. New Mexico (29-5)
Here’s The Deal: Steve Alford’s Lobos have beaten every ranked team they’ve played without a truly bad loss. They're a team that cranks out a solid defense and is unselfish on the offensive side. This isn’t a flashy team, but it’s a solidly built squad that can play any kind of style with parts that all fit together. They exude toughness, winning both the Mountain West regular season and conference tournament championships, and they have the mindset to get through a few rounds by doing everything the right way.
Player You Need To Care About: Junior guard Kendall Williams was arguably the best player in the Mountain West, and if his team wasn’t so balanced, or he played in a locale with more exposure, he’d be a bigger deal on national scale. The engine of the Lobo team, he averaged over 13 points per game and five assists, while helping out on the boards and coming up with steals on a regular basis. He also can get into the lane, or rise and nail deep bombs, serving as the tone-setter.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Lobos will be too tough on the boards and defensively for Harvard, and they’ll battle on to the Sweet 16 before getting bounced by a tougher Ohio State team.

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14. Harvard (19-9)
Here’s The Deal: The Crimson got the official and automatic bid by taking the No. 1 seed and finishing things off with an Ivy League conference tournament championship. Their game is about efficiency, connecting on over 48% of their shots and getting hot on a regular basis. However, there are problems with rebounding and guarding perimeter jump shots, but the offense shoots its way out of plenty of problems. Harvard won at California earlier in the year, but it’s going to take a game full of red hot shooters to move on.
Player You Need To Care About: Wesley Saunders is a versatile 6-5 guard/forward averaging 16.5 points by trying to score with dribble-drives and pull ups that go down 50% of the time. When he does miss, it’s often because he was fouled and headed to the free-throw line, averaging over ten attempts per game. He’ll be the No. 1 guy to stop, and everyone else has to take advantage of the attention to hit the open spots.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The offense won’t be enough to get by the nasty New Mexico defense in the opener.

7. Notre Dame (25-9)
Here’s The Deal: The Irish surprised a bit this year, having everything to do with being a collective group that works as one, rather than a team of individuals. This is a heady team that works its offense and shares the basketball. Things will go through the blocks often with perimeter players relocating to open areas on the floor, ready to bury the outside jumpers. There might not be anything fancy – other than the awful uniforms – but the end results are strong for a team built to advance a few rounds.
Player You Need To Care About: Everything will run through senior big-man Jack Cooley, a 6-9 forward who plays much larger than his frame while looking comfortable with his back to the basket. He has great footwork and gets plenty of points around the rim, but he also has great vision with his passing out of the post to open shooters. He rarely takes a bad shot – hitting 58% in the regular season - and can wipe the glass clean.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Being sound and solid won’t be enough to get by the Iowa State offense in a disappointing opening game.

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10. Iowa State (22-11)
Here’s The Deal: The Cyclones can score with anyone. Only Indiana averages more points per game from the power conferences. ISU averages more three-point makes than any team in the country and come into the gym ready to fire, bombing away from all sides with no fear. However, the team wins with the three and dies by it, too, taking Kansas to the brink twice - losing in OT both times – and coming up with some nice wins in the regular season over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Defense isn’t at a premium, but this is the type of team that can shoot its way through a few rounds if it gets hot.
Player You Need To Care About: On a team known for launching grenades, senior guard Tyrus McGee is the standout. He’s not the leading scorer at 13.5 points per game in the regular season, but he has the potential to go-off and carry the Cyclones to an upset with 20-plus point performance. While he’s streaky from game to game, but he hits 47% on his three-point attempts.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Cyclones will shoot and shoot and shoot their way past Notre Dame and into the next round before getting shut down by Ohio State.

2. Ohio State (26-7)
Here’s The Deal: After winning the tournament of the best conference in college basketball, the Buckeyes are one of the hottest teams at the right time, putting together quality wins with the road victory over Indiana and home triumphs versus Michigan and Michigan State. But they also looked pedestrian at times, losing by 19 in Champaign against Illinois and by 22 against Wisconsin in Madison. So exactly how good and how deep of a run can Thad Matta’s crew make? It all hinges on the focus the Buckeyes display on the defensive end in combination with finding a compliment each game to go along with All-Big Ten forward Deshaun Thomas. While this year’s team has lacked consistency, it seems to have found itself a bit by putting guards Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft on the floor at the same time. The two play off of each other by creating on-ball pressure and that seems to elevate the play of the entire team on both ends. But make no mistake about it; it’ll be defense, and more defense, that will determine the Buckeyes fate.
Player You Need To Care About: Thomas. He’s a Swiss Army Knife on the offensive end - able to score in multiple ways able to post up, spot up on the outside for threes and dribble into holes in the lane and pop mid-range jump shots. He was at the top of the Big Ten all season in points per game, and he’s one of the rare players who just knows how to make things happen. He’s not the most athletic player or most graceful, but he has no fear of failure. There will be a game where he has to carry his team on the offensive end, and he’s got the skills and personality to do it.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The defense is better than you think when it absolutely has to be. This is a mentally tough, battle-challenged team that will rip through the weak bottom half of the bracket on the way to a Big Ten championship rematch against Wisconsin to get to Atlanta.

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15. Iona (20-13)
Here’s The Deal: The Gaels finished in fourth place in the MAAC, but was able to make it all the way to the championship game of the conference tournament by getting past the league’s best team, Niagara in the semis. So what kind of team is Iona bringing to the big time? It’s another one of those mid-major teams that’s going to try and put up a bundle of points while treating defense as an optional package. If the offense is hitting shots, the team could hang for a while, but unless it can stop the run on baskets at the opponent’s offensive end, it’ll be game over early.
Player You Need To Care About: Senior guard Lemont Jones is the third-leading scorer in the country averaging 23 points by throwing up an astonishing 547 field-goal attempts and burying 44% of the volume. He can shoot from the outside but also gets to the free throw line often for cheap points. He chips in on the glass and even leads the team in assists despite having a gunner’s mentality. Now, about those turnovers...
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? There will be a few fun moments against Ohio State, but the offense will fizzle in the second half.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half