The New Mexico State Aggies take on the Saint Louis Billikens in a much-anticipated second-round battle to open the 2013 NCAA tournament.
While the No. 4-seeded Billikens have been drawing national attention all year, the focus should shift to the Sim Bhullar, the Aggies’ gigantic center, when the game tips off on Thursday afternoon.
Bhullar is one of the most intriguing players participating in March Madness this year, as his sheer size alone makes him a candidate to wind up on an NBA roster this spring.
Standing at 7’5”, 355 pounds, Bhullar has the physical tools to dominate a game. However, his conditioning is suspect (although improving) and he’s still extremely raw out on the court.
For the 2012-13 campaign, Bhullar averaged 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 24.3 minutes of play. He’s shown the capability to take over—as he did in the regular-season finale against Texas-Arlington.
In that contest, the big man logged 34 minutes, scored 16 points (on 6-of-8 shooting), grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked five shots and even dished two assists in what amounted to a 64-55 victory for New Mexico State.
Compared to the season opener against Oregon State, in which Bhullar played just 15 minutes, scored one point, grabbed two boards and blocked two shots, you can see he’s rapidly improving upon his conditioning and skills.
He has a difficult matchup on Thursday against Saint Louis’ Rob Loe, a stretch center that can knock down three-pointers, but Bhullar should be up for the challenge. As long as the Aggies coaching staff finds a way to keep him near the painted area on defense, it’s going to be extremely tough for the Billikens to score points.
How will Bhullar fare in the tournament?
Whenever he receives the ball on offense, expect Bhullar to command an instant double-team, freeing up his teammates to get open and make outside shots—as the pivot is a willing and able passer who can find them through the pressure.
Should the big man find a way to lead New Mexico State deep into this tourney, he could become a national darling and quickly find himself rising up the NBA draft big boards.
You’re not going to want to miss a single minute of Bhullar’s playing time, so tune in on Thursday at 2:10 p.m. ET to catch the action between NMSU and Saint Louis.