It's stated all the time this season. Guard play makes all the difference in the NCAA tournament, and to be honest it's hard to argue with that statement. So who are some of the top guard groups in this year's field? Here are 12 below along with a few superlatives. Not all of the usual suspects make the list, but try not to automatically dismiss the less heralded names either.
(3) Baylor vs. (14) South Dakota St: South Region
(8) Iowa St vs. (9) Connecticut: South Region
(8) Kansas State vs. (9) Southern Mississippi: East Region
Recently CHN writer Jon Teitel was able to spend some time talking with Iowa State point forward Royce White, one of the best players in America. The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, White runs the point for the Cyclones despite bing 6'9", 270 pounds. Iowa State takes on Connecticut in the 8/9 matchup in the South Region.
Jon Teitel: You transferred from Minnesota to Iowa State. Why did you decide to transfer, and how close did you come to going to Kentucky (ISU's possible opponent in the round of 32)?
With the Big 12 holding it's pre-tournament teleconference on Monday morning, CHN writer Jon Teitel took some notes of what a few coaches had to say about their teams and matchups. Below are Baylor's Scott Drew, Missouri's Frank Haith and Kansas State's Frank Martin.
Baylor's Scott Drew (3-seed, South Region)
On the role league played in their preparation: "The Big 12 tournament helps us prepare for the NCAA tournament. I joke that the new uniforms are helping us win because now we know who we are passing to!"
Top 10 Sexy Sweet Sixteen Picks
How the Midwest Region shakes out will ultimately be determined by the John Henson's left wrist, which he injured on a hard fall in their quarterfinal win over Maryland on Friday. North Carolina has said that the junior big man is ready to go this week, and to be fair it was better to give Henson the two days to heal as opposed to put him at risk to reinjury.
The Kentucky Wildcats, as has been expected for quite some time, is the top overall seed and they will begin their (hopeful) journey to New Orleans on the floor of bitter rival Louisville. That won't be a problem however as Big Blue Nation likely planned months in advance for their first two games being at the KFC Yum! Center.