Posted by Eric Angevine
The Anaheim Regional is the chalk champion this year. The 1, 2 and 3 seeds made it through, and No. 5 Arizona over No. 4 Texas wasn't much of an upset by seed. So, what we have here is nothing but the game's best active coach (Coach K at Duke), A Player of the Year candidate (Kemba Walker at UConn), A likely top-5 NBA draft pick (Derrick Williams at Arizona), and a first-time program with arguably the nation's most potent frontcourt (San Diego State). Meh. Chalk. How boring.
Three storylines dominating Anaheim
1. Coach K goes for 902 wins and yet another Final Four trip.
2. Derrick Williams is coming home to L.A.
3. Kemba Walker attempts to keep his postseason win streak intact.
How They Get to Houston
No. 1 Duke: The key word for the Blue Devils is 'maintain'. The backcourt rotation has become truly formidable with the return of Kyrie Irving. When he plays alongside Nolan Smith and Seth Curry, Duke has so many ways to destroy a team. Kyle Singler will continue to overwork opposing defenses with his ability to drive inside or step back and drill a jumper. Duke's inside players simply need to play their roles as they have all season. Two wins, and Duke fans get to celebrate a Final Four and Coach K becoming tied with Bob Knight as the winningest coach in D-I.
No. 2 San Diego State: Get the ball inside. The Aztecs entered the season with one of the nation's top frontcourts, and nothing has changed on that score. Kawhi Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas are good for roughly 48 percent of the team's points scored this season. Chase Tapley is the jump shooter any big lineup needs to keep defenders honest, and D.J. Gay is the distributor who feeds the machine. If those five players do their jobs, and Steve Fisher doesn't have to go to the bench too terribly often, the Aztecs can get to the Lone Star state.
No. 3 Connecticut: Kemba. Kemba, Kemba Kemba Kemba. Kemba? Kemba. OK, seriously. Kemba Walker continuing to play like he's got JRR Tolkien-style Elf blood in his veins is the key to everything UConn has done and hopes to do this season. Alex Oriakhi is the key rebounder, and Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier are the helpful apprentice scorers. There is no longer room for doubt: Kemba Walker can do anything he wants to do on the basketball court.
No. 5 Arizona: The Wildcats are really an unusual team to see at this stage. Sophomore Derrick Williams scores a full 25 percent of his team's points. One quarter! Momo Jones is the only other Arizona player who even comes close to double figures in scoring, and he averages 9.8 per game. The youth movement worked against Texas, and could be a harbinger of things to come. Freshman Jordin Mayes and sophomore Solomon Hill each played well to get the 'Cats to the Sweet 16. The key is to have a one possession game and let Williams take over. It's worked thus far.
Anaheim's five best players
1. Nolan Smith: Duke's leader can stroke a jumper or drive the lane with ease. He averages 20.9 points and 5.3 assists per game.
2. Kemba Walker: Quite simply college basketball's Superman this season. 23.6 ppg and 4.5 apg.
3. Derrick Williams: A sophomore who almost single-handedly put his team in the Sweet 16. 19.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Shoots 61% from deep.
4. Kawhi Leonard: If you needed a rebound to save your life, and Kenneth Faried wasn't available (well, he isn't), you'd want Leonard to be your guy. 15.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg.
5. Kyrie Irving: With so many other choices, it's tough to go here, but Irving is the piece that makes a good Duke team great.
The Duke Blue Devils will cut down the nets, because college basketball is a guard's game, and the Devils are hoarding at least four good to exceptional ones. Kyle Singler is an NBA talent in the frontcourt, and the trio of big men can, together, play the role that Brian Zoubek played for the defending national champs last season. They're not quite as complete as Ohio State, but that's a concern for another day.
Photo: US Presswire
|More NCAA tournament coverage|