Big East Tournament 2011: Kemba Walker and Five key players to watch for in UConn vs. Syracuse
Now that America's most watched conference tournament has nearly hit it's peak, we now have a much broader view of which teams will be featured in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Has March Madness officially set in? I think so.
Kemba Walker's game winning shot with the clock expiring against Pittsburgh vaulted the Huskies towards national prominence once again.
Meanwhile, Brandon Triche's 22 point effort against St. John's proved to be just enough for Syracuse to advance towards a semifinal showdown with the rejuvenated Huskies.
With colossal NCAA tournament implications on the line, who will decide the fate of both teams come game day?
Here are the five most important players to watch for in the Big East's epic semifinal showdown at Madison Square Garden.
One of the most recognizable names you'll find anywhere, Scoop Jardine, has made significant contributions towards Syracuse's Big East conference title run.
Against UConn, things aren't likely to change for Mr. Jardine.
With 12.6 points and 6.0 assists per game for Jim Boeheim's crew, Jardine is second to none in the efficiency category.
The leading scorer for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse, Kris Joseph will have a lasting impact on the outcome of their semifinal matchup against Connecticut.
Against St. John's in the quarterfinals, Joseph managed 14 critical points, four rebounds, three blocks and made six of 10 free throws.
This time around, however, he'll have to amplify his productivity for Syracuse to have a legitimate shot.
Leading the Huskies in rebounds per game (9.7) is Alex Oriakhi's primary focus so far this season and against Syracuse it will be imperative for him to produce up to the levels he's accustomed to.
Although Kemba Walker stole the show in UConn's 76-74 victory against Pittsburgh, Oriakhi's 13 points and seven rebounds aided in the Huskies' efforts.
It's safe to say that Connecticut's efforts will be contingent upon Oriahki's performance.
Rebounding equates to championships and Syracuse is no exception to that fact.
At the center of it all is the Orange's Rick Jackson: averaging a staggering 10.7 rebounds per game, along with 13.1 points and 35.1 minutes per game.
When the going gets tough, expect Syracuse to try and pound the ball into the paint—hopefully where Jackson will make an immediate impact.
If the Orange have any shot at beating the Huskies, they'll have to put it in the hands of Jackson more than enough times.
Walker's status as one of the most prolific scorers in the country was yet again confirmed in UConn's 76-74 last-second victory over Pittsburgh.
Averaging an impressive 23.4 points per game over the course of the regular season, Walker is by far and away the Huskies' top asset with the ball in hand.
When the game is on the line, like it most likely will be, will Walker have a chance to drain another game winning shot for the Huskies?
For that, you'll just have to tune in.