With so much basketball compressed into a few days, watchers of conference tournaments can get a pretty decent grasp of players and teams. It is one of the many reasons why the conference tournaments may be as fun to watch as the actual NCAA tournament. With Kansas and Syracuse going down on Friday, there are some big names left on the sidelines. Because of the Orange’s depth, I won’t miss trying to figure out who is going score for them.
I’ll look at more value plays – less than $100,000 – in Saturday’s match ups. We have the Big East and Big 12 finals and semifinals in the ACC, SEC and Big Ten to choose from. While the Michigan State-Wisconsin tilt may not be the most aesthetically pleasing from a scoring standpoint, there may be a number of bargains in the game.
Phil Pressey ($98,000), guard, Missouri Tigers (vs. Baylor)
The younger of the Pressey brothers is coming off a season-high 23 points against Texas. The Longhorns left him open, so he drained five threes. Pressey played well against Baylor this season as well. He averaged 17.5 points in the sweep of the Bears and was offensively aggressive. Pressey had only scored 34 points points in his previous five games, so there is some bust potential if he doesn’t shoot. From previous history against Baylor, I think he’ll be a good play.
Quincy Miller ($94,000), forward, Baylor Bears (vs. Missouri)
Like Pressey, Miller doesn’t score consistently. The 6-foot-9 freshman has been held to six points or fewer in four of his last six games. He did, however, have 20 points in the Feb. 11 loss to Missouri and a season-high 29 points in the Jan. 21 home loss to the Tigers. 49 points in two games make Miller an easy recommendation. He had 13 points on Friday against Kansas in just 18 minutes. There is potential to have another big game.
Rob Wilson ($93,000), guard/forward, Wisconsin Badgers (vs. Michigan State)
Even if Wilson only scores half of what he did against Indiana on Friday, he should be a good play. The senior had one of the greatest unexpected scoring displays of the season. He scored a career-high 30 points, including seven three-pointers, against the Hoosiers. Wilson had only scored in double figures once this season, but had averaged 8.0 points over his previous four games. He only provided seven points in the two losses against the Spartans this season.
Chane Behanan ($90,000), forward, Louisville Cardinals (vs. Cincinnati)
Behanan, a Cincinnati native, had 11 points in the first meeting of the two teams involved in the Big East final on Feb. 23. He only played 14 minutes against Notre Dame on Friday, so he should be relatively well rested for the Bearcats. The freshman provided 12 points in the win over Marquette on Thursday and played 35 minutes. Behanan has scored in double digits in two of his last four games and hit for at least ten points 16 times this season.
Patric Young ($90,000), forward/center, Florida Gators (vs. Kentucky)
I am not a big fan of Young’s game, but he does have the size to take advantage of the Wildcats in the paint. He had 21 points against Kentucky last Sunday as he devoured five offensive rebounds. That was his only game in the last six in which Young scored more than eight points, but he also provided 12 points against Kentucky on Feb. 7. Because of foul trouble, Young only played 27 minutes on Friday against Alabama.
Derrick Nix ($88,000), center, Michigan State Spartans (vs. Wisconsin)
Nix does not get a lot of minutes for Michigan State, so he has to make good use of his playing time. In just 14 minutes against Iowa on Friday, he put in nine points on seven shots. The 6-foot-9 center played well against the Badgers this season by putting in 20 points in the sweep of Wisconsin. Look for the Nix to score in double figures for the 12th time this season.
A.J. Walton ($81,000), guard, Baylor Bears (vs. Missouri)
The Big 12 tournament has brought the best out of Walton. The senior has scored 23 points in the wins over Kansas State and Kansas. In two tournament games, he has equaled his total of double-digit scoring games from the regular season. Walton only scored two points in the two games against Missouri in the regular season, but should see extra playing time to combat the Tigers’ backcourt depth.
Reginald Buckner ($77,000), forward, Ole Miss Rebels (vs. Vanderbilt)
The Rebels outlasted Tennessee in overtime on Friday evening, so they may not be their freshest against Vanderbilt in what may be a relatively low-scoring game. Buckner is a hustle player who had nine points in the blowout loss to Vanderbilt on Feb. 16. He fouled out last night after 29 minutes, but he scored 12 points for his first double-digit scoring game since Feb. 9.
James Michael McAdoo ($60,000), forward, North Carolina Tar Heels (vs. North Carolina State)
If I could put a giant star next to one of my picks, it would be on McAdoo. John Henson ($159,000) may not play because of a sprained wrist that limited him to seven minutes in the win over Maryland. While x-rays were negative, coach Roy Williams will probably err on the side of caution and either not play Henson or limit his minutes. McAdoo, a 6-foot-9 freshman, had 14 points in 29 minutes against the Terrapins and should see extended minutes against the Wolfpack.
Travis Trice ($58,000), guard, Michigan State Spartans (vs. Wisconsin)
Yesterday I recommended Brandon Wood ($87,000) and he came through with ten points against Iowa. Wood should start again against Wisconsin since Branden Dawson is out, but I am going with the cheaper Trice on Saturday. The freshman played 24 minutes against the Hawkeyes and had nine points on three threes. He did not score in the previous meetings with the Badgers, but he should get plenty of opportunities in the Big Ten semifinals.