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College Basketball Weekend Takeaways 3/7-3/8

Utah State

Sam Merrill delivered an epic Mountain West Tournament run that gave Utah State the automatic bid. The win over San Diego State gives Craig Smith back to back conference tournament titles. They will be a team nobody wants to draw to start the NCAA tournament with the dynamic duo of Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta. Also, the complimentary pieces of Justin Bean and Diogo Brito who will be vital to their tournament success. Another key will be the health of Abel Porter if they get him at close to 100 percent they will have a multitude of options on the perimeter. Utah State is a team to watch as they enter the NCAA tournament with a game-changing player with Sam Merrill.

Liberty

Image result for caleb homesley libertyHead coach Ritchie McKay will be heading to his second straight NCAA tournament with winning the Atlantic Sun Tournament in back to back years. This team has the experience to be an extremely dangerous team for an opponent they draw in the first round. Liberty has a player who can take over a game with Caleb Homesley. They also have a very tough interior player in Scottie James who will be relentless with his effort. Further, Darius McGhee gives very good scoring on the perimeter for Liberty as well with his ability to play in transition. However, this Liberty team is known for its defense and pace which resembles the play of Virginia. Liberty is built to advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

Texas

Shaka Smart had this Texas team heading in the right direction until they didn’t show up against Oklahoma State with a blow out loss. They must beat Texas Tech in the quarterfinals game of the Big 12 Tournament which very well could be considered an elimination game. Also, if Texas does not get to the NCAA Tournament this could be the end for Shaka Smart’s tenure at Texas. They will need an exceptional performance from Matt Coleman leading the way for Texas. They need consistent play from the frontcourt in Kai Jones and Royce Hamm. A huge week is ahead for Texas if they want to continue their season in the NCAA Tournament.

Dayton

Image result for anthony grantNow, Dayton has an extraordinary opportunity to get the no. 1 seed in the East Region with the loss of San Diego State. Furthermore, they must win all three games in the A-10 tournament to get the no. 1 seed. Anthony Grant has this team playing at a very high level on the offensive end as one of the best in the country. The play of Obi Toppin is leading the way as one of the best players in the country and he will be a force moving forward for Dayton. The Flyers also have elite guard play from Jaylen Crutcher to help facilitate the offense and score at a high level. Continued, the versatility of Ryan Mikesell is very important with his shooting and ability to stretch the defense. Guard play wins in March. Along with Crutcher, they have other guards who help significantly with Ibi Watson, Trey Landers and Rodney Chatman. Dayton has the capabilities to make a major run in the NCAA Tournament especially if they get the no. 1 seed in the East Region.

Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts

Watts and Henry are emerging as major contributors to Michigan State and are changing the trajectory of this team. Further, the defensive ability of Aaron Henry has been as consistent as any guard in the Big Ten. Along with his rebounding ability and now making plays offensively on a consistent basis. He is playing complete basketball on both ends of the floor. As for Rocket Watts, he is turning into a big-time shooter for Michigan State next to Cassius Winston. His ability to score the basketball is taking pressure off of Winston and is causing defenses major trouble. Also, Rocket Watts is capable of handling the basketball which will be key down the stretch of the season. The improved play of Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts has Michigan State among the National Championship favorites yet again.

Images Courtesy of, Deseret News, Liberty University, Mid-Major Madness

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