March Madness 2011 Predictions: Which Sweet 16 Team Has the Most NBA Talent?
Even though the NCAA tournament is full of exciting games and surprising upsets, many of the fans aren't watching for either of those reasons. Tons of people across the country watch the NCAA tournament to see which players could become studs at the next level.
A common misconception about the tournament is that future pros on your team doesn't always translate to big-time success.
Several teams full of NBA talent, like Texas and Pitt, have already made their early-round exits.
With 16 teams left in the big dance, future NBA players will be in every single game. Whether they will be drafted this year, next year, or even further down the road is something we will have to wait and see.
Let's get down to business. Here are the 16 teams left ranked from least future pros to most future pros.
16. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
The players of VCU are restricted by one thing: their will to win.
The Rams are very unselfish and only care about the ultimate goal of winning. For head coach Shaka Smart and his squad, winning has worked out well lately.
VCU has four players that average over 10 points a game and nine players that play 10 or more minutes a night.
If VCU can keep Shaka Smart around for a few more years, future pros will come out of this program.
15. Marquette Golden Eagles
Unfortunately for the Marquette Golden Eagles, none of their players' names are heard in NBA talks.
The Golden Eagles are led by guards Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler. Both are very solid guards that do great jobs, but neither are NBA players.
The two combine for over 30 points a game and are certainly the team's backbone.
For Marquette and Buzz Williams, good college players supersede future pros.
14. Butler Bulldogs
Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard are the definite leaders of Butler this season. While Mack can light it up, Howard is great at controlling the post for his size. Unfortunately for Howard, even though he averages 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, he is far from the NBA's radar.
Mack, on the other hand, could be drafted this year.
Mack is one of the best scorers in college basketball and does it in a variety of ways. He can knock down shots, advance past defenders and out-muscle smaller guards when he needs to.
However, Mack isn't a "true" point guard. He is 6'2" and doesn't handle the ball like a point guard should. He's much more of a true shooting guard, but is very undersized to do so. Mack needs to have a big summer to prove to NBA scouts that he can either play point guard or hold his own as a shooting guard.
13. Richmond Spiders
Justin Harper is just about all Richmond has as far as future pros go.
The 6'10" senior is now looking at an early-second to possibly late-first-round pick.
Harper is a great shooter, which he uses to his advantage all the time. If defenders come up on him to guard his jump shot, he will simply blow by them. Harper might be one of the more polished offensive players in this whole draft.
Harper's worst enemy is his label as a "tweener." He is too skinny to guard NBA power forwards and probably too slow to guard quick small forwards. This summer will be an important one for him in his NBA tryouts.
12. Wisconsin Badgers
Bo Ryan's teams have always been full of overachievers. Top players Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor are no exceptions.
Jon Leuer is projected as a late-first to early-second-round pick this year. He is a really smooth finesse player who doesn't like to bang with the big boys down low.
Leuer is the definition of an inside-out player—one who loves to bring his opponent out by the three-point line and break him down. Leuer can drain threes and also drive by slower defenders.
The other pro prospect on Wisconsin is Jordan Taylor.
Taylor is a junior point guard who resembles Bo Ryan's program to a T. He is well-rounded and doesn't make many mistakes.
Taylor can shoot a little too often and will need to make strides with that next year. Jordan has also improved his shooting percentage, along with his assist-to-turnover ratio every year in the program.
11. Florida State Seminoles
Chris Singleton of Florida State was almost through another good season for the 'Noles until the injury bug hit him. Singleton fractured his foot with just a few games left in the season.
The former ACC defensive player has come back from the injury, but doesn't look nearly as effective quite yet.
When Singleton is healthy, he does everything you can ask of him on defense. Singleton steals the ball, rebounds, disrupts shots and uses his length to play help defense.
Singleton will have to work on his ball handling and perimeter skills to be successful at the next level. He is not big enough to play power forward in the NBA, so to the wing he will go.
Florida State also has post man Xavier Gibson. Like Singleton, Gibson has been injured this year. Gibson missed nine consecutive games right in the heart of the season due to a wrist injury. Expect Gibson to be the main post man on Florida State next year, possibly moving himself into the first round.
The 'Noles also have former McDonald's All-American Michael Snaer. Unfortunately for Snaer, he has looked like anything but an All-American so far in his career. Snaer needs to have a breakout junior season to get back on the NBA map.
10. Connecticut Huskies
UConn is all about Kemba Walker. The junior guard is the whole show for the Huskies.
Kemba is a college scoring machine trying to prove that his game will transition to the NBA. Kemba's biggest strengths are his speed, quickness and shooting ability. On that alone, Kemba will get drafted in the first round.
However, his biggest weakness is what scouts hate to see out of a point guard. Kemba can be careless with the ball, have too many turnovers and force the ball into areas it doesn't need to be.
Kemba nearly had a triple-double against Bucknell, then followed it with 33 points and five assists against Cincinnati.
Walker's draft stock is in limbo, with every game being very important for the UConn guard.
9. Florida Gators
The Florida Gators are a well-balanced team. Arguably their best player is very well-balanced himself.
Senior small forward Chandler Parsons is the definition of a "stat-sheet stuffer" guy.
Parsons scores moderately, assists people well, rebounds at a good rate, has the awareness to steal balls and rarely exits the game without a block.
For his versatility, Parsons will be a pro at the next level. However, Parsons has been a late bloomer and has things he has to improve. Scouts will want to see more consistent scoring out of Parsons, who can be streaky at times.
Florida also has guard Kenny Boynton. Boynton was an extremely highly-rated recruit that has failed to live up to the hype. Boynton's three-point shooting numbers are slightly up this year, going from an abysmal 29 percent to 33 percent.
Boynton needs to have the big year scouts have been waiting for in order to find himself in the NBA.
8. San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State's big stud is Kawhi Leonard.
The sophomore small forward is a high energy player that always goes 100 percent. Kawhi has drawn early comparisons to Gerald Wallace, which is very high praise.
Kawhi and Gerald are related in how hard they play the game at all times. Kawhi has big hands, allowing him to snatch rebounds from places he probably shouldn't.
Leonard is a relentless player that surely won't disappoint in the NBA.
Anticipate Kawhi being a mid-first-round pick, with the possibility of going Top 10 if the Aztecs can go deep in this tournament.
7. BYU Cougars
BYU is all about "The Jimmer."
Jimmer Fredette is the best shooting guard we have seen in college basketball since, well, Stephen Curry.
Jimmer has an amazing shooting stroke and could be drafted high just because of it. Fredette has also made serious improvements in his game this year, being able to take on much more of the point guard role.
Jimmer's pro potential boils down to whether he can play point guard in the NBA or not. The nay-sayers think that his athleticism and slower feet will hold his team back on defense.
Regardless, Fredette will still be a lottery pick this year with someone willing to take the chance on him. In the worst case scenario, you have yourself a better dribbling version of JJ Redick.
BYU also had (keyword: had) forward Brandon Davies. Davies was suspended for the remainder of the season for violation of team rules. Davies has a solid inside game, as he's able to defend and rebound with the best of them.
Davies could be in line for a big year next season without Jimmer hogging the ball.
6. Arizona Wildcats
Arizona has most likely the biggest NBA name in the tournament in Derrick Williams.
Williams, a hybrid type of player, has the potential to be the first pick in this year's draft. Williams has a very high basketball IQ, as he gets to the free-throw line at will.
The sophomore is phenomenal in the paint and is able to score in a variety of ways.
The only concern regarding Williams is his "tweener"-type label. Williams plays somewhat like Michael Beasley did in college and it will be interesting to see how he transitions at the next level.
Kyle Fogg is also on NBA scouts' radars. Fogg is a solid game mediator, but will need to do a better job of showing scouts he can play point guard in the NBA. Don't be surprised if Fogg puts together a big season next year without Derrick Williams in the lineup.
5. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky might be the only team left with two potential lottery picks on their team.
Brandon Knight is a stud freshman point guard who has really put the pedal to metal lately. Knight had a slow start to the year, but now averages 17.4 points, 4.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Knight even posted 30 points in the last game against West Virginia. His explosiveness, quickness, speed and size will have scouts drooling over his potential in the NBA.
Terrence Jones is another potential lottery pick. The lanky forward is extremely versatile, being able to guard and play positions 1 through 4. Jones has great ball-handling skills, causing many to compare him to Lamar Odom. Jones' ability to be so versatile and "do it all" makes him a top 20 pick without a doubt.
After Jones and Knight, there is a pretty significant drop-off in elite NBA talent.
Highly-recruited players like Doron Lamb and Deandre Liggins have some potential, but will need more seasoning to fully reach it.
4. North Carolina Tar Heels
Like usual, Roy Williams' squad is full of players gushing in potential.
Freshman sensation Harrison Barnes still has top-pick potential. His mixture of explosiveness, athleticism, shooting ability and defensive ability is remarkable. If UNC can go deep in this tourney, expect Harrison Barnes to go No. 1 or No. 2.
After Harrison Barnes, there is a pretty big drop-off in NBA potential.
The next guy in line is John Henson. He is super long and lanky and disrupts everything going on in the frontcourt. Henson is very athletic and snatches rebounds all over the place. Unfortunately for Henson, he resembles Anthony Randolph too much, which could hurt his pro potential.
Freshman stud Kendall Marshall broke out after Larry Drew transferred earlier in the year. Marshall needs to have a big year next year and prove he can carry the team. Kendall is an assist master, however, posting double-digits assists in both tourney games so far.
UNC center Tyler Zeller is also a future pro. He is a seven-foot finesse player who UNC typically runs the offense through. If Zeller wants to fall in the first round next year, he will need to seriously toughen up; he is routinely bullied around in the paint.
3. Duke Blue Devils
The top Duke player scouts are watching is Kyrie Irving. Irving is battling a couple other players for the possibility of first pick.
Irving has the "point-guard feel," athleticism, and high-end decision-making to be an All-Star point guard for years. His freak toe injury this year certainly set him back, but he will have time during the pre-draft workouts to move his way back up.
Senior leader Kyle Singler will also be drafted this year. Singler will have to transition to small forward in the NBA, which could be difficult. If he is able to make the transition swiftly, Singler could have a long NBA career with his blend of size, brains and shooting ability.
The other senior leader on Duke, Nolan Smith, also has an NBA career ahead of him. Nolan Smith might be one of the safest picks at the end of the first round. He is 6'3", which is very solid for a point guard. He will also be one of the highest IQ players on the court, which is very important for a point guard.
Other guys like Seth Curry, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins all have pro potential at some point.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks have talent all over the court that can go pro. Everyone knows about the Morris twins, who will certainly be top 20 picks this year.
Marcus is a versatile 6'8" wing, who should find his spot all over the court in the NBA. Markieff is a 6'9" power forward who has really seen his game grow this year, as he's able to shoot outside shots and dominate the post.
For Kansas, the Morris twins are just the beginning.
Sophomore backup big man Thomas Robinson will be all over scouts' radars next year. Robinson is relentless when attacking the boards and can dunk on you whenever he wants. Watch out for "T-Rob" to emerge next year.
Freshman guard Josh Selby is also another future pro. Selby was a top recruit who has had a disappointing season, much of which can be attributed to injury. Bill Self has said Selby is playing hurt and will have the appropriate surgery after the season. Anticipate Selby to be Kansas' leading scorer next year.
Other guys like slasher Travis Releford and seven-foot Jeff Withey both have pro potential. Their fates will also be decided next year.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State's future pros have the most potential in the whole field.
Led by stud freshman Jared Sullinger, Ohio State has at least two other pros.
Sullinger is a guaranteed top five pick and has shown glimpses of Kevin Love throughout the year. He has a huge NBA body that he knows how to use.
Junior shooting guard William Buford is expected to be a late-first-round pick this year. Buford has been a late bloomer and hasn't scratched his full upside yet. He is also a really good shooter, which will get him minutes for years to come.
Along with Buford, senior shooting guard David Lighty is expected to be picked this draft. Lighty has been playing major minutes at Ohio State for forever now—and his game shows it. He has a well-rounded game and usually does what's best for the team.
On top of Sullinger, Buford and Lighty, Ohio State has potential in Jon Diebler and Aaron Craft. Diebler is a senior marksman who can drain shots from anywhere on the floor. He is also 6'6", which helps him on defense.
Freshman point guard Aaron Kraft is one worth keeping an eye on. He has really come on late in the season, dishing out 15 assists in Ohio State's last game.