By Jon Rothstein
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Bob McKillop and experience is one deadly combination. The Wildcats’ veteran coach returns everyone of significance from last year’s team that reached the NCAA Tournament and lost to Louisville. Davidson starts three seniors along with two juniors and has one of the more underrated power forward-center combinations in the country in De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen. The Wildcats have currently won 10 consecutive games and will be an absolute nuisance to play if they reach the field of 68.
Nobody has done more with less than season than Tommy Amaker. The Crimson lost their two best players in Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey just before the season but have remained the team to beat in the Ivy League. Freshman Siyani Chambers has been a revelation at point guard for Harvard, and Wesley Saunders has cemented himself as this team’s go-to scorer on the perimeter. The biggest reason to like the Crimson moving forward? They keep getting better on the baseline. Steve Moundou-Missi and Kenyatta Smith improve each time they step on the floor and have really gotten better in terms of protecting the rim defensively.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
Think a watered down version of VCU. Kermit Davis plays 10 different players 10 minutes or more each game and accelerates the pace with regularity. The Blue Raiders haven’t lost a game since January 3rd and are currently on a 12-game winning streak. The biggest key for this team? Three-point specialist Ray Cintron. The achilles heel for Middle Tennessee State is their ability to make shots if the pace of the game slows down, and that’s directly related to this long range specialist. Cintron is shooting 43.3% from deep on the season and has already had eight games this year with four or more made three-point shots.
LONG BEACH STATE
The 49ers aren’t getting the same type of buzz they were last season, but they’re still incredibly talented. James Ennis has emerged as an efficient scorer at 6-7 while Keala King, Dan Jennings, and Tony Freeland are all players who started their careers at BCS level programs. Sophomore point guard Mike Caffey played a key role in last year’s NCAA run as a freshman and has emerged as a complete floor general in his second season of college basketball. If Dan Monson’s team can win the Big West and get the right match up, they’re more than capable of pulling off an upset in the NCAA Tournament.
The Titans can score it from all five positions on the floor and have a legitimate star in junior guard Ray McCallum. Nick Minnerath has emerged as a stretch five man that can extend the defense and Jason Calliste has become a significantly better offensive player as a senior. The biggest thing opponents should be worried about when it comes to Detroit is their explosiveness. The Titans scored 58 points in the second half of their victory over Valparaiso last Saturday.
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