The 2011 NCAA Tournament is here. Adding to the excitement is an array of the top point guard talent in the country.
The point guard position can make a college basketball game come alive or as silent as an insurance convention.
This March Madness we get the treat to watch 20 of the smartest, quickest and sneakiest point guards around; who could leave us doing cart wheels in family rooms across the country at the end of games.
You may be saying to yourself, "Really, 20 point guards? No way."
That's what I thought, then I started brainstorming and boom. Though college basketball is a parity of mediocrity this season, it became clear, there is some exciting talent at the point position.
Tu Holloway, had the honors of being named the A-10 player of the year. A deserving winner of the award, thanks to his averages of 20.1 points, 5.5 assist and 5.2 rebounds per game.
His presence alone is what brings a breath of life to Xavier, as he averages over 38 minutes a game.
Holloway, likes to get his teammates involved through the drive-and-dish game. As he creates plenty of space when the opposing defense collapses on him.
Down the stretch he wants the rock in his hands and isn't afraid of taking a big shot from long-range, with a conversion rate of 34 percent.
Josh Selby is a freshman for Kansas who saw most of his first season cut short, due to a nine game suspension, along with three more games due to a foot injury.
Through out the season, Kansas's Achilles-heel has been their lack of point guard play. Leading to a slower tempo of offense than head coach Bill Self would like to play with.
Selby, is finally healthy and could be ready to make an immediate impact over the next few weeks. He plays fearless and will attack the basket, converting 75-percent of his free throws.
Erving Walker, plays with a tremendous amount of energy for Florida.
The little fella—he's listed at 5'8"—wants the ball in his hands at the end of games.
Earlier this season he hit a game winning lay-up against visiting rival Tennessee.
A couple weeks earlier he hit a big three to send a game at Georgia into overtime, leading to an eventual win for Florida.
Walker could leave fans screaming at the end of some games this tournament. Due in part to his 37-percent from long-range, with a knack for getting to the charity stripe.
Jacob Pullen, got off to a very slow start to say the least this season for Kansas State.
However, through the last six regular season games he averaged 27 points per game.
Pullen, has quite the arsenal in his back pocket. He can shoot from deep or blow by his man getting to the rim for a conversion.
With a struggling team this season, Pullen, has been K-States go-to-guy.
If a game is close and time is running down, you better keep your eyes on this sneaky point guard.
Chris Wright, of Georgetown, has been the counter-part to shooting guard, Austin Freeman, this season.
That was before, Wright, broke his left non-shooting hand. Resulting in Georgetown falling short of a win in the last four games of the season.
Wright, has been cleared by doctors for the tournament. However, many still question how comfortable he will be fresh of an injury.
Known to be a pass-first point, Wright, ranks third in assist for the Big East with 5.4. He can also be a threat from deep, shooting 35 percent on the year.
Wright, will have to play for the Hoyas to have any chance of advancing through the first-round.
Kendall Marshall, is a fast and sneaky passer who runs the point for North Carolina.
After taking over for a disappointing, Larry Drew III—who isn't even on the team anymore— in mid-Feburary, Marshall has led the ACC in assist with 5.6.
The freshman has a knack for finding his open teammates, putting them in position to score an easy bucket.
He won't score the most points for the Tar Heels, averaging just under six points a contest. On the flip side, he can shoot it from the perimeter, shooting 38 percent on the season.
Marshall will be a major piece to Carolinas' puzzle this tournament.
Isaiah Thomas, is a do-it-all type point guard for Washington—who is averaging 16.6 PTS, 5.6 AST and 3.7 REB.
On the season he averages just over 30 minutes of action a game. He can score and pass the rock extremely well and isn't afraid of taking big shots.
This past weekend he hit the game winner against, Arizona, clinching back-to-back PAC 10 titles for Washington.
Thomas could put some pressure on North Carolina's, Kendall Marshall, in their first-round matchup.
Dogus Balbay, had rough start to his career at Texas a few years back with some nagging injuries. Now in his senior season for Texas, he has embraced his role as a pass-first, hard-nosed defending point guard.
Balbay, has a terrible jumper to say the least, but can win games for Texas by finding an open teammate on the drive-and-dish.
Look out as he and Texas could upset some brackets these next few weeks.
Corey Fisher, is one of the best at getting to the rim in the country, when he's healthy. Throughout the season, Villanova, has struggled due to Fisher constantly battling injury.
Fisher, can do a little bit of everything for the Wildcats, while averaging 15.5 points, 4.8 assist and 2.8 rebounds per contest.
As part of his arsenal, Fisher, has a deadly pump fake, that gets defenders in the air. With an end result of Fisher, at the charity stripe, successfully connecting on 78-percent of his opportunities.
Aaron Craft, was awarded the 2011 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award, after a fine performance this season.
The former high school quarterback brings a cerebral game on the hardwood for Ohio State. He led the Big Ten in steals per game, with 1.9.
Adding to his tremendous freshman year he put together an assist-to-turnover ratio of two-to-one for the Buckeyes.
Craft doesn't start much of the time, but gives OSU a floor general off the bench.
Kalin Lucas, is part of a group of seniors for Michigan State, who have a career record of 11-3 in the NCAA tournament.
This tournament, Lucas, will certainly be playing with a chip on his shoulder—due to rupturing his his left Achilles tendon in the second-round of last year's tournament.
So far this season, the point guard has led the Spartans in minutes and scoring.
At times he can be sloppy with the ball, with an average of 2.5 turnovers per game. An area he must improve upon for the tournament.
If Michigan State wants to advance they will rely on, Lucas's play.
Kevin Anderson, is a beast at the point guard position for the Richmond Spiders.
Anderson, a former A 10 player of the year, will not only try and lead his team in the tournament, but show NBA scouts he can play with the best.
He plays with a high-motor, averaging over 35 minutes a game. His game is diverse with his deadly stroke from deep-range, shooting 42 percent.
In order for Richmond to advance through out the tournament, Anderson will have to be all he can be.
Scoop Jardine, is one of those point guards who will wow you one moment and then leave you scratching your head the next.
Syracuse, relies heavily on Jardine, in hope that he can score and distribute the rock effectively. On the season, he averages 12 points and was good for second in the Big East for assist, with 5.8 per contest.
There is no question the he relishes the big moment at the end of the game. It's just a matter of will he leave you with excitement or you hanging your head?
Peyton Siva, is a quick point guard and doesn't ware down over the course of a game for Louisville.
He can do multiple things with the basketball, which in turn, allows him to be an excellent drive-and-disher.
Due to his athletic ability he is constantly moving and dribbling. With an end result at times of a wasted possession.
On the flip side he is an on-the-ball defender who was second the in the conference in steals with two a game.
Look out, as Siva will certainly be rocking his PF Flyers through out the tournament.
Jordan Taylor, is another due-it-all point guard for Wisconsin.
Taylor, was a first-team all Big 10 selection by the end of the season and rightfully so—averaging 18.1 PTS, 4.7 APG and 4.2 RPG.
He has a knack for protecting the ball, according to Kenpom.com, he turns the ball over only eight-percent of the time per 40 minutes. Ranking second in the country.
To help make the previous stat even clearer, his assist-to-turnover ratio is 4.63-to-1.
The Badger, clearly doesn't allow the opposing defense to dictate his game and routinely takes what is given to him. Rather than force an unnecessary pass.
Nolan Smith, began to shine even brighter, following the injury of freshman sensation, Kyrie Irving.
Smith, led the charge for Duke, spear-heading them to another ACC conference tournament title and back-to-back one seeds in the NCAA tournament.
The point guard, impressed many through out season with his scoring and passing ability. On the season he averages just over 20 points, 5.2 assist and 4.8 rebounds per game.
A dangerous shooter on the perimeter, defenders can't give him space or he will make them pay.
The senior will be a huge key to Dukes success this tournament.
Ben Hansbrough, is the younger brother of former All-American and national champion, Tyler Hansbrough.
He is very crafty with the ball and great at creating his own shot, with an average of 49 percent on the year.
Through out the season he put up solid numbers at the point, averaging, 18.5 points, 4.2 assist and 3.8 rebounds.
To go along with his scoring, the Big East player of the candidate is an effective ball distributor on the drive-and-dish.
Surprisingly, he is a solid defender who isn't afraid of playing on-the-ball.
Through out the tournament, Hansbrough, might be riding the luck of the Irish.
Brandon Knight, is a long and athletic point guard for the Kentucky Wildcats. His versatility led him to first-team All-SEC this season.
Better yet, he was the leading scorer among freshman this year, averaging 17.7 points per game, while shooting 44 percent from the field.
Knight, can spread the floor, dishing out four assist per game. However, he needs to work on his turnovers, with an average of 3.1 per game.
Don't be surprised if Knight is leading the charge for the Wildcats down the stretch. He isn't afraid of shooting it from deep-range either, shooting 40 percent on the year through the SEC tournament.
Jimmer Fredette, single handedly led Brigham Young, to their highest seed ever in the NCAA tournament with a three-seed.
The "Jimmer," led the country in scoring through out the season, with 28.5.
He is the ultimate scoring point guard. With a quick release and unlimited range (40 percent beyond-the-arc), he is a nuisance on opposing defenses.
Some will say he shoots to much. However, he hits 45 percent of his shots. Not a great percentage, but a very good one to say the least.
Without Fredette, nobody would even be talking about BYU.
The biggest thing to watch for is his defense. Will he be able to square up with other elite guards around the country?
Kemba Walker, is the definition of the ultimate player, especially at the point.
Just this past weekend he took the Big East Tournament hostage and continued to will Connecticut to victory. Resulting in UConn's first conference championship since 2004.
Through out the season, Walker was one of the nations leading scorers, at 23.1 points per game. Right behind, Jimmer Fredette, of BYU.
Being the ultimate do-it-all point guard, Walker averaged more rebounds than assist than season, with 5.2 rebounds to his 4.3 assist. Not to mention he is only 6'1".
On the other side of the ball, he is a scrappy defender, with an average of 1.9 steals per game.
With an array of game winning shots this season, this stud from the Bronx has multiple definitions next to his name; in fearless, clutch, crafty, smart and winner.
It's easy to say, the Huskies will only go as far as Walker can lead the pack.