Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame
Does this name look familiar? Yes, this is the younger brother of former Tar Heel great Tyler Hansbrough. Younger brother Ben recently won the Big East player of the year, which now enables him to ride in the front seat with his dad for the first time. Unlike his brother, Ben Hansbrough is not a low-post threat, but rather a skilled guard with a deadly outside shot. He averaged 18.5 points a game this season, while shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Big Brother Tyler doesn’t like riding in the back seat!
JaJuan Johnson, F-C, Purdue
When Robbie Hummel went down in the beginning of the season with an injury, it dealt a huge blow to the Boilermakers. This put a ton of responsibility on its other star player JaJuan Johnson to carry the load. He responded by winning Big Ten player of the year and leading Purdue to a #3 seed. He averaged 20 points a game (which is sometimes enough points to win a Big Ten game) and 8 rebounds.
Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
Along with his twin brother Markieff, Marcus Morris is a load to handle for opposing defenses. The Big XII player of the year is comfortable banging down low or facing up for open jump shots. The power forward even has range out past the three point line. He averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds a game, while maintaining an excellent 58 percent field goal percentage.
Austin Freeman, G, Georgetown
Much has been made of Georgetown’s recent tough stretch and the injury to Chris Wright, but the player that makes Georgetown go is Austin Freeman. The senior earned first team Big East honors and averaged 18 points a game. Without any trace of a front-court, it was amazing that Georgetown was able to be as competitive as they were. Freeman was the main reason they were able to do so.
Others To Watch:
Markieff Morris, F, Kansas; Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois; Tim Abromaitis, F, Notre Dame; Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State; Kevin Anderson, G, Richmond
Potential Sleeper (11+ seed that could make some noise): Richmond
The 12th seeded Spiders make their second consecutive tourney appearance. Although they made an early exit last season, it gave them valuable experience. With Senior guard Kevin Anderson leading the way, they have a guard who is capable of taking over. It can’t be stressed enough how important guard play is in March. The team is also playing its best ball of the season, as it recently won the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Potential Early Exit (1-3 seed that could go down early): Notre Dame (2)
Notre Dame is the type of team that could easily blow you out if their shooters are hitting their shots. They have multiple threats from beyond the arc. This is the typical live by the three, die by the three team. A tough defensive team could cause the Irish’ luck to run out. A potential 2nd round matchup against Florida State is a nightmare matchup for them. If defensive specialist Chris Singleton is healthy, that Florida State team will be a ton of trouble for the shooters of the Irish.
Best Potential Matchup: Kansas vs. Notre Dame (Elite Eight)
I know this is an uninspiring choice with the top two seeds playing, but this would be the best potential game in this region. The clashes of style between the lights out shooting Irish and the size and strength of Kansas would be great to watch. Tons of star power in this game.
Best Mascot: Akron Zips
Watching the selection show, this mascot name stuck out immediately. The Zips? I didn’t even know what a Zip was. Upon further research, a “Zip” is a kangaroo and the mascot’s name is Zippy. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Akron, Ohio, I think of Kangaroos.
Frequent Outback Steakhouse visitor