The Pure Hoops Quick Hitters
Summary: The Pure Hoops Quick Hitters will provide commentary, analysis, breaking news and quick hit audio delivered right to your finger tips to keep you informed, updated and on your game in the world of hoops.
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Northeastern is smoking hot approaching the tournament behind Vasa Pusica a 6’5” senior from Serbia leads who the Huskies. Jordan Roland is a threat from downtown and they have gotten great play from Bolden Brace.
Bradley is back in the tournament for the first time since 2006. Their record isn’t great and they play at a slow pace, but they heated up late in the season and are ready for the tournament. They beat SMU and Penn State in non-conference games and they are relentless competitors.
Michigan State is led by Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid in the backcourt. Junior forward Nick Ward is recovering from a broken hand and this team is efficient at both ends. They are a matchup nightmare and behind coach Tom Izzo they have been playing their best ball late in the season.
Iowa won’t wow you with talent, but they are a smart team. Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon, and Luka Garza all have solid offensive skills and experience. They were 11-0 outside of the Big Ten and their efficiency is something that allows them to do well against more talented teams.
NC Central played and lost to some elite teams earlier in the season, but the team has learned from the experience and gotten stronger. But they probably aren’t strong enough. Four of their key players are transfers, they’re not smooth on offense, and they struggle shooting threes. Unless they find a way to score more points, they’ll be done early.
Seton Hall is well coached, locks down on defense, and has a star in Myles Powell, a 6-2 junior guard who averages 23 points and three made 3’s per game. Their balanced attack also features Myles Cale, Quincy mcKnight, and Sandro Mamukelashvili from the country of Georgia. With a non conference win over Kentucky on their resume, the Pirates can match up with anyone.
Fairleigh Dickinson handled the Northeast Conference top seed St Francis in their tournament and is currently on an 8 game win streak. Darnell Edge leads the way with 16 points a game and can be explosive. Jahlil Jenkins has found his stride and the team’s late season balance makes them a tough first round opponent.
Liberty finished the season with 18 wins in its last 20 games. They also beat UCLA at Pauley Pavilion by 15 points. They play slowly but efficiently and are great at the free throw line. Led by Scottie James and Celeb Homesley, they are solid defensively and when they slow the pace down against more talented teams, they become very dangerous.
Iowa State has talent, but chemistry has been elusive for coach Steve Prohm. Their go to guy is Canadian Marial Shayok, a 6-6 guard averaging 18 a game. Freshman Talen Horton-Tucker is a 6-4 guard with NBA potential. Their defense has not been great in the latter part of the season, but their talent has the potential to compensate for those shortcomings.
Oklahoma looked good early after an 11-1 start including wins over Wofford and Florida. But they stumbled through an uneven stretch run. They are well coached by Lon Kruger and while they don’t have a “go to” scorer, they do have other double digit scorers, so balance is a strength. And so is their team defense.
Syracuse is always a threat with their legendary 2-3 zone defense that is a nightmare for opposing coaches to prepare for. Guard Tyus Battle missed the ACC Tournament games against Pittsburgh and Duke and his return to good health is paramount for Coach Jim Boeheim. The 6-6 junior guard averages more than 17 points a game. Oshae Brissett and Elijah Hughes also need to step up for the Orange to do well, but Battle is the key.
Vermont has used a stingy defense to fuel a major hot streak heading into the tournament. And they have a true star in 6-6 junior forward Anthony Lamb. Since Lamb arrived on campus, the Catamounts have made the NCAA Tournament two out of his three seasons. While they could be a tough first round opponent, they likely won’t go far in the tournament.
Maryland has a couple of future NBA bigs in Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. Anthony Cowan runs the show and loves taking big shots. The Terps play tough defense but need to watch their turnovers or they’ll have a quick exit from the tournament.
LSU expects to make lots of noise in the tournament after missing the dance last season. With leadership from Tremont Waters and inside presence Naz Reid, they play fast and pound the glass. They also play well on the road.
Tennessee under coach Rick Barnes has been one of the most athletic teams in the country. They have several NBA prospects as well as leadership and shooting. They pass the ball, play tough defense, and have quality wins under their belt.