NCAA Tournament 2011: The 10 Best Big Men Left in the Sweet 16

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2011

NCAA Tournament 2011: The 10 Best Big Men Left in the Sweet 16

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    With the final 16 teams left standing in the NCAA Tournament, the play of the big men could be a defining factor in a team’s success.

    We have seen some dominant play from forwards and centers so far, and this trend will likely continue into the later rounds.

    While some teams rely on their outside shooting, picking up points and rebounds in the paint is always a good strategy.

    Here are the 10 best big men left in the Sweet 16.

10. Jon Leuer, Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin’s 6’10” forward Jon Leuer has averaged 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season.

    In the Badgers’ first two NCAA Tournament games, Leuer has been right around those marks.

    He scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Belmont and added 19 points and seven rebounds against Kansas State.

    Wisconsin takes on Butler in the Sweet 16, so Leuer will have to continue his dominant play on the glass to give the Badgers a shot of advancing to the Elite 8.

9. Chris Singleton, Florida State

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    Florida State’s Chris Singleton missed the final six regular season games with a broken foot.

    The ACC Defensive Player of the Year only played a combined 26 minutes in the Seminoles’ victories over Texas A&M and Notre Dame.

    However, the 6’9” forward says he feels great and will look to contribute more against VCU.

    Singleton is averaging 13.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this season.

8. Terrence Jones, Kentucky

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    Terrence Jones and Kentucky have a tough challenge in facing Ohio State in the Sweet 16.

    After a 10-point performance against Princeton, the 6’8” Jones picked up the intensity by recording a double-double in Kentucky’s win over West Virginia.

    Jones finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

    He’s averaged 16.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, so he will have to produce those types of numbers to give Kentucky a chance against the Buckeyes.

7. Mason Plumlee, Duke

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    Unlike some of the other players on this list, Mason Plumlee isn’t a scoring machine.

    However, Plumlee’s job is to rack up offensive and defensive rebounds to create chances for Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry.

    Plumlee put up 12 points in Duke’s win over Hampton, but he only played 18 minutes against Michigan.

    He’s averaged 7.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

6. The Morris Brothers, Kansas

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    The only thing better than one “Morris” for Kansas is two “Morrises.”

    Marcus and Markieff Morris have played like twin towers this season for the Jayhawks.

    The 6’9” Marcus has led Kansas with 17.3 points per game, and he has also added 7.4 rebounds per game. He scored 16 and 17 points, respectively, in the Jayhawks’ first two tournament games.

    At 6’10”, Markieff has averaged 13.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He’s coming off of a huge performance against Illinois that saw him put up 24 points and 12 rebounds.

    The Morris brothers will need to continue their strong play against a hot Richmond team.

5. Justin Harper, Richmond

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    Justin Harper has gone from a relative unknown to a household name.

    The 6’10” forward has been instrumental in Richmond’s run to the Sweet 16, averaging 17.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

    Harper scored 19 points in Richmond’s win over Morehead State.

    He has played almost every minute of both games thus far, and he will need to play big against the Morris brothers of Kansas.

4. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

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    Tyler Zeller is one big dude.

    The 7’0” forward has the hot hand right now for North Carolina. He scored 32 points against Long Island University and followed up with 23 points against Washington.

    For the season, he’s averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

    He will need to continue to be a beast on the glass as UNC takes on Marquette in the Sweet 16.

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State

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    The 6’7” Kawhi Leonard has been a huge part of San Diego State’s run this season.

    The sophomore has averaged a double-double with 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, both of which led the Aztecs.

    He’s coming off two impressive games to start the tournament.

    Leonard scored 21 points with 10 rebounds against Northern Colorado and added 16 points with nine rebounds against Temple.

    Leonard and the Aztecs will look to contain Kemba Walker and UConn in the Sweet 16.

2. Derrick Williams, Arizona

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    Derrick Williams’ stock is rising rapidly.

    The 6’8” sophomore forward will lead his Wildcats in a Sweet 16 matchup against the mighty Duke Blue Devils.

    If Williams can continue his pace, he will present a lofty challenge for Coach K.

    He’s averaged 19.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season and put up 22 and 17 points, respectively, in Arizona’s first two games.

    The ball will be in Williams’ hand if this game is close down the stretch.

1. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

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    Standing at 6’9”, 280 pounds, Jared Sullinger uses his bulky frame to bully would-be rebounders out of his way.

    The Ohio State Buckeyes have had two easy wins so far, and Sullinger has only had to play limited minutes since the games were way out of hand.

    He’s scored 19 points with 17 rebounds in the two games, and those numbers should increase with more action against tougher competition.

    Sullinger led the Buckeyes with 17.1 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    Ohio State will rely on Sullinger to set the tone against Kentucky.