March Madness 2012: Anthony Davis and the 5 Best Shot-Blockers of Sweet 16
March Madness resumes today, and that means that Anthony Davis and some other college basketball players will be back at what they do best: blocking shots.
Every college hoops fan in the nation knows of the shot-blocking ability of Davis by now, but there are a handful of other elite shot-blockers still remaining in the field of 16. Defense, as always, will be key to the success and survival of most teams, and as the games get closer and the teams become more evenly matched, blocked shots are more crucial now than they have been all season long.
These five players are the best shot-blockers still alive in the NCAA tournament, and all of them could very well turn away a last-second shot and help their team advance to the Elite Eight.
Quincy Acy (Baylor)
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Quincy Acy may be a bit undersized at 6'7", but his height doesn't stop him from being an absolute beast on the defensive end of the court.
Acy, known for his ferocious dunks, is Baylor's enforcer on defense. He is averaging 1.9 blocks per game and has collected six blocks in a game twice this season.
Xavier has a true seven-footer in Kenny Frease to play in the post, but don't expect Acy to be intimidated; he will still do all he can on defense to help Baylor advance to the next round.
Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
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Anthony Davis, just a freshman, has been the nation's best shot-blocker all season long. He is averaging just under five blocks per game, and his prowess on the defensive end has already saved Kentucky one game as they defeated North Carolina earlier this season thanks to his block on John Henson on UNC's final possession.
Davis has a wingspan that will make your jaw drop, and opponents can't attack the rim with confidence knowing that he'll be waiting for them by the basket. His height, length and defensive instincts make him one of the best shot-blockers we have ever seen in college basketball, and he is undoubtedly the top shot-blocker who will be competing in the Sweet 16.
Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)
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Gorgui Dieng has been extremely vital to Louisville's success this season. Without him, the Cardinals would be a much worse defensive and rebounding team, as the sophomore contributes 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.
Against the frontline of Michigan State, Dieng will have to be excellent in order for Louisville to advance. He will need to block some shots early in order to deter the Spartans from going inside, but one potential problem could be foul trouble; he averages 3.4 fouls per game.
Louisville's chances against Michigan State largely rest on Dieng's shoulders. If he can block a few shots early, the Cardinals will be on their way to the Elite Eight. If he picks up two quick fouls and is sent to the bench, however, Tom Izzo and his Spartans could turn this matchup into a blowout very quickly.
John Henson (North Carolina)
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The North Carolina Tar Heels, with or without Kendall Marshall, will be heavily favored in their matchup against the Ohio Bobcats. The main reason for this is that Ohio, the MAC champions, have yet to see a frontline as big as UNC's.
UNC's defense is anchored by John Henson, a 6'11" athletic freak with an impressive wingspan and great vertical leap. Due to this lethal combination, he is averaging 3.0 blocks per game, which makes this the second consecutive season the junior has averaged at least three rejections per contest.
The main storyline for the Tar Heels this March has been the wrists of both Henson and now Marshall, but don't expect injuries to run North Carolina off course. The Tar Heels are still extremely talented, and as long as they have Henson playing, opponents will have a difficult time scoring down low.
Jeff Withey (Kansas)
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Jeff Withey has emerged as a defensive threat for the Kansas Jayhawks this season. Before this year, the 7'0" junior had contributed very little, but with the loss of the Morris twins, his role has increased drastically. He is averaging 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, but his greatest impact is undeniably his ability to block shots.
Withey is averaging an outstanding 3.3 blocks per game this season in just 24 minutes of action. He has missed a triple-double by one block on two occasions this season, and put up monster back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State in February.
If Withey comes to play, Kansas is a very dangerous team, and in a potential Elite Eight matchup against the UNC Tar Heels, his height could combat the play of John Henson and Tyler Zeller in the post.
First, however, the Jayhawks must defeat NC State, and Withey will be crucial in stopping the upset-minded Wolfpack.