Today is Selection Sunday. In some ways, it is the biggest on the college basketball calendar. Everything leads up the selection show, and then there is a short break in the action while teams fly out to their first round destinations and prepare for the Big Dance. Before we get to the end of the committee’s business we have some big games to attend to.
The Daily Joust slate for Sunday includes the ACC, SEC, and Big Ten finals. Someone recently noted to me that teams that have already made the NCAA tournament field do not go all out in the conference tournaments, but I have not seen any evidence of that. My guess is that the players from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida State, North Carolina, Ohio State, and Michigan State all want to win, even though they know they will be dancing next week. Let’s take a look at the best and worst play in each game.
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (SEC Championship)
The freshman point guard is not a reliable offensive option. In his last five games, he has scored in double digits in every other game and has only gone 3-for-9 (33.3%) from three-point range. However, he has played well against Vanderbilt with 16 points in the home win on Feb. 25 and 13 points in the road win on Feb. 11. Teague put in 15 points on Saturday against Florida and should be good for double figures in the championship.
Worst: Jeffery Taylor ($158,000)
Taylor has not had a good SEC tournament. His team has won despite his poor play and he has only scored eight points on 3-for-15 (20%) from the field. Perhaps the senior swingman is dealing with a slight injury because his shooting is down across the board. In his last seven games, he has only made 42.9% (12-for-28) of his free throws and 25.7% (10-for-39) of his threes. He did average 16.0 points against the Wildcats this year, but I would stay far away from him until he shows he can make some shots.
Florida State vs. North Carolina (ACC Championship)
Because of a sprained wrist, John Henson ($142,000) did not play in the semifinal win over North Carolina State. The 6-foot-9 freshman made his first start of the season and had nine points in 27 minutes. McAdoo’s game reminds me of another old Tar Heel, Sam Perkins. On Jan. 14 against Florida State, McAdoo only played ten minutes and did not score. The Tar Heels may have revenge on their minds from that 33-point loss and McAdoo should score in double figures for the fifth time this season.
Miller’s emergence as a second scorer for the Seminoles has been one of the main reasons that they were able to turn their season around. The 6-foot-3 sophomore sat out the first 11 games. He scored in double digits in 14 games despite coming off the bench. The problem with Miller is that his minutes are not guaranteed. He only played 15 minutes against Duke on Saturday and fouled out with just seven points. Miller also had just three points in the blowout win over the Tar Heels on Jan. 14.
Michigan State vs. Ohio State (Big Ten Championship)
The Valparaiso transfer continues to be a strong play because he is in the starting lineup (which doesn’t give a player any points by itself, but usually means they will get more minutes). He played 35 minutes against Wisconsin on Saturday and scored nine points on eight shots. Wood has averaged 11.3 points over his last three games and converted 50% (6-for-12) of his threes. He had 15 points against the Buckeyes last Sunday, but was held to three points in 31 minutes in the Feb. 11 Spartan win.
Sullinger has played very well in the Big Ten tournament. He opened with a season-high 30 points against Purdue and had 24 points on Saturday against Michigan. He has not had much success against the big bodies that Michigan State can throw at him. In the last game of the regular season, Sullinger had 14 points and he was held to 17 points in the Sparty win on Feb. 11. This will likely be another low-scoring affair and I don’t think Sullinger will score 22 points or more.