NCAA Tournament 2012: 5 Players Who Will Lead Their Team to Victory
The Sweet 16 starts Thursday and some truly spectacular players will showcase their talents. The Kentucky-Indiana game alone is full of NBA talent.
In fact, each Sweet 16 game has some of that superior talent. Players like Thomas Robinson of Kansas and Perry Jones III of Baylor seem poised for huge games and ready to take the next step on their journeys to New Orleans and the Final Four.
Here's how Robinson, Jones III and others will lead their teams to big-time victories.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
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Anthony Davis is the talk of the Kentucky Wildcats, and rightfully so, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the player who will lead UK to a win over rival Indiana.
Kidd-Gilchrist is the kind of jack-of-all-trades player that defenses have immense trouble guarding. Mix that with his consistent effort on the defensive end and he's instantly one of this game's most influential players.
Kidd-Gilchrist showed up huge in Kentucky's thrilling regular-season matchup with Indiana. I see no reason why he won't dominate the rematch in a Kentucky win.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
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Harrison Barnes could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft had he left North Carolina after his freshman season. Luckily for the Tar Heels, he stayed and is now poised to lead them against Cinderella Ohio in the Sweet 16.
Starting UNC point guard Kendall Marshall fractured his right wrist against Creighton in the Round of 32 and his status is questionable for this game.
With Marshall possibly out, the Tar Heels would be without their floor general and would need someone to initiate the offense. That's where Barnes steps in.
The Tar Heels should revert to a more half court-oriented offense that emphasizes matchups. Barnes should be utilized in pick-and-rolls, where he has the ability to finish or dish to a teammate.
When UNC beats Ohio, Barnes will have left his fingerprints all over the game.
Perry Jones III, Baylor
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The Baylor Bears will be matched up against the Xavier Musketeers, and the one player who figures to have a big game is Perry Jones III.
After having several excellent games in the Big-12 Tournament, Jones has had two disappointing NCAA Tournament games. He's due for a big game and has a good opportunity against Xavier.
The Musketeers don't have a small forward who can match the speed and length of Jones. I expect him to break out in impressive fashion.
A 20-10 game isn't out of the question for the talented forward en route to a Baylor win.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
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The Kansas Jayhawks will be matched against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Sweet 16, and it should be an entertaining game. Kansas would seem to have the upper hand because of Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson.
Robinson is an absolute load down low and can impact the game on both ends. He's a double-double machine who plays great in big games.
The 6'10" Robinson will have either 6'8" C.J. Leslie or 6'6 Scott Wood guarding him. If Robinson can match up against players his own size and dominate, being guarded by smaller players could lead to a huge game.
Robinson will lead Kansas to victory and a possible showdown with North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Kenny Boynton, Florida
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Kenny Boynton isn't a household name, but the Florida Gators guard will have a huge game against the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Boynton is one of the quicker guards in the nation and a deadly sharpshooter. Combine that with backcourt mates Erving Walker and Bradley Beal, and you have the best trio of guards in the nation.
This isn't about having a good matchup or being a great player, the reason Boynton will have a big game is because of that trio of guards. More often than not, defenders gravitate toward speedster Walker and slasher Beal. That leaves Boynton open and in a better position to score.
Boynton probably will be defended by Vander Blue and Todd Mayo, and will punish the Golden Eagles all game long as Florida advances to the Elite Eight to face either Michigan State or Louisville.