Purdue's Big Ten tournament title cemented the Boilermakers as a team to watch in the big dance. E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel can stretch a defense with perimeter shooting, especially now that Hummel's recovered from a hairline vertebra fracture.
Throw in JaJuan Johnson clearing the boards and Chris Kramer's leadership and Purdue (25-9)should give UConn all sorts of fits in the Sweet 16. Its defense is just as good as the Huskies', though Purdue has to get by the other Huskies (Washington) first.
The whole region is seeded appropriately. If there's one that could drop a couple spots, it'd be Texas A&M.
The Aggies are a dangerous team because of their offensive ability, but their best win this season outside of College Station was a 72-61 victory against LSU — and that was in Houston, an hour away. Traveling to Philadelphia to play a BYU team looking for some NCAA tourney revenge will be a tall order.
Most likely upset
No. 11 Utah State over No. 6 Marquette. No way this happens if the Eagles still had Dominic James running the show. Then again, if James were still playing, Marquette (24-9) probably wouldn't be here. The Eagles lost five of their last six — to UConn, Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse and Villanova, no less.
Utah State (30-4) has won more games than any team except Memphis. That's a good place to start. Even better is the Aggies' awesome offense. They hit 40 percent of their 3-pointers, 54.2 percent overall and 75 percent from the line. It's not an ideal pick, but it's worth a shot.
Love the idea of watching Washington's Jon Brockman trying to get a shot off against Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado. Brockman's listed at 6-7, while Varnado — the nation's leading shot blocker — is a 6-9 jumping jack with go-go gadget arms. Don't underestimate Brockman, though. A few well-placed elbows can free up some space inside.
Maryland's Greivis Vasquez gets a lot of attention for his box score-filling exploits. His 35-point night against UNC was a thing of beauty. But Cal's Jerome Randle may be even better. The 5-10 point guard is a blur with the ball, and a more efficient offensive player.
He plays a ton of minutes, and can be sloppy with the ball, but if the Bears (22-10) expect to win an NCAA tourney game for the first time 2003, Randle will be the reason why.
As for the Tiger tussle, defense will rule. Memphis has the nation's best, while few teams pressure more effectively and force more steals than Missouri. Tyreke Evans will have his hands full against Mike Anderson's press.
Still, don't discount John Calipari's team. It's won 11 NCAA tournament games since 2006, including last year's run to the national title game. Defense will carry Memphis back to the Final Four.
CBT: Kansas commit Andrew Wiggins impressed in his first workout with the Jayhawks.
Former Rutgers staffer Erik Murdock is still seeking compensation for his termination and says he confronted his co-workers about Mike Rice's behavior.
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