It's conference tourney time and the HQ takes a look at a few players Raptors' fans may want to keep an eye on today...
1:00 PM - (19) Florida vs. (1) Kentucky - Here we go with a rematch to last week's action. The Wildcats crushed the Gators 74 to 59 last Sunday displaying dominance at nearly every position on the court, and despite a tough match yesterday against LSU are looking to do it again.
For Raptors' fans, the Bradley Beal vs Doron Lamb/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist match-up. Kentucky held the sharp-shooting Beal to a measly five points on 1 of 10 shooting, and without his offence, the Gators didn't have a chance. MKG struggled offensively as well, so it will be interesting to see who can impose their will on this one today.
Another player I'm keeping an eye on is Patrick Young. I can't tell at this point if he's the next DeAndre Jordan, or the next Solomon Jones. He actually had 21 and 9 against Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones last Sunday, but he tends to disappear in matches. (See yesterday's 6 point, 5 rebound performance against Alabama, a match FLA nearly lost.)
1:00 PM - North Carolina State vs. (4) North Carolina - I fully expect UNC to dominate this match, even if big man John Henson misses the game with the wrist injury he suffered yesterday. The Tar Heels are just too dominant at nearly every spot on the floor and I don't see them being challenged until the ACC Final game tomorrow.
Harrison Barnes is in the spotlight for me today and going forward. He had a good match against Maryland, but didn't shoot the ball that well and again, I need to see him start to dominate some of these matches to feel comfortable about him being a potential top pick for the Dinos.
As well, I'm a big CJ Leslie fan, so curious to see how UNC deals with his inside/outside abilities. He dropped 19 and 14 on Virginia yesterday and has been on fire of late.
6:00 PM - (11) Baylor vs. (5) Missouri - This is the game I'm most excited for today. (Yes, even more than Duke/FLA ST., which minus Ryan Kelly, could be a big L for the Blue Devils.) Baylor finally played the game I've been waiting for them to play nearly all season last night, knocking off a number one bracket seed in Kansas.
Perry Jones III must have heard all the "soft" talk of late because again last night, he was dominant scoring a team-high 18 points and creating mismatch after mismatch on the court. His size and length, along with the shot-blocking of Quincy Acey, bothered Kansas stud Thomas Robinson all night. Jones would be a very intriguing player for the Raptors, who could use someone with his versatile talents, but like Barnes, I need to see a streak here of dominant performances.
On the Mizzou side, I just love to watch these guys play. We're talking about an extremely potent offense centered around some of the nation's most explosive scoring guards. Marcus Denmon might not be a future star, but I'd take him off the Raps' bench any day, and it will be interesting to see how his Tigers quickness and shooting ability matches up with the size and versatility of the Bears.
Bonus - Louisville and Cincinnati for the Big East title at 9:00 PM.
Maybe there are no studs in this one, but this should be a very competitive, back and forth match. I've been rooting for the Bearcats all season and they've put together an impressive run on the way to the title game. As a big Yancy Gates fan, who I'd have my eyes on a second-round sleeper, I'm thrilled to see him taking advantage of the second opportunity he's been given in the wake of the Xavier brawl.
Louisville is no slouch though and Peyton Siva is playing out of this world right now for Rick Pitino. Should be a beauty.