(5) Arizona vs. (12) Memphis
If you’re only going to watch one player in this year’s tournament Arizona Wildcat’s sophomore forward Derrick Williams deserves a lot of consideration to be that guy. He’s vaulted himself into the top five of every mock draft by averaging 18 points and seven rebounds this season. When Williams shoots the ball odds are it’s going in as he’s knocked down an absurd 61% of his looks from the field and 60% from deep. He’s the only double-figure scorer for Arizona, though, making them easy to game plan for. Defensively they’re not very tough either, struggling mightily on that side of the floor. They don’t force a lot of turnovers or block many shots. Despite being severely flawed on D the Wildcats possess quite possibly the tournament’s best player and could ride him for a deep run. He’s slowed down a bit over the last few weeks, but should kick it up a notch when the stakes are raised.
When Coach John Calipari bolted Memphis to take the same position at Kentucky, there were question marks surrounding his replacement, recruiting wunderkind Josh Pastner. In the past two years, Pastner has shown the ability to recruit at a high level, landing top prospects like Will Barton while bringing in two of the top classes in college basketball during that time. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resulted in the kind of success on the basketball court exemplified by Coach Cal. While Memphis is loaded with talented prospects, they were firmly planted on the NCAA Tournament bubble before winning the Conference USA Tournament. The Tigers have more losses outside the RPI Top 200 (one; at SMU) than they have wins inside the RPI Top 30. Regardless, Memphis has a deep rotation of talented players, like Will Barton, Wesley Witherspoon and Joe Jackson, who could help this team make some noise at the Big Dance.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Arizona. Arizona’s Derrick Williams have proven to be a difference-maker all year and, with the eyes of the nation on him, will help propel the Pac-10 Champions past Memphis.