NCAA Tournament Observations: Wilbekin best pure PG left in Dance
Scottie Wilbekin continues to pace No. 1 overall seed Florida, pushing the Gators into their fourth straight Elite Eight game. Also, one of the best coaches never to make a Final Four will do so Saturday.
1. Scottie Wilbekin is best pure PG left in NCAA Tournament.
And that has been on full display over the past few weeks. The senior floor general ran the Gators' offense with the focus of surgeon Thursday night against UCLA, and made several key shots down the stretch in the second half to help Florida get separation. Wilbekin isn't as effective a scorer as Iowa State's DeAndre Kane or UConn's Shabazz Napier, but everything he does affects the most important statistic: Winning. Billy Donovan's team has yet to lose a game at full strength this season. On Saturday, Florida will play in its fourth consecutive Elite Eight. That's beyond impressive.
2. One 'best to never make a Final Four' will do so Saturday.
Sean Miller and Bo Ryan are two of the best college coaches who have never been to a Final Four. That will change Saturday. Arizona and Wisconsin meet in the West Region final and the winner will play in the Final Four on April 5 in Arlington, Texas. Miller has been to the Elite Eight twice -- once with Xavier and once with Arizona -- while Ryan has been there once. He lost to North Carolina's 2005 national-title team. The Badgers were breathtaking offensively Thursday against Baylor, while the Wildcats have been one of the nation's best defensive teams all season.
3. Dayton's freshman class been a key to its run.
The triumvirate of Scoochie Smith, Kyle Davis and Kendall Pollard has quietly been a key part of Dayton's unbelievable depth and that was on full display in Thursday night's Sweet 16 win over Stanford. Smith, Davis and Pollard combined to score 20 points against the Cardinal and figure to be three quality players for three more seasons at Dayton. Effective recruiting is the most critical element of any program. Players like Smith, Davis and Pollard are proof you don't have to always hit "home runs" to have an effective recruiting class.
4. Steve Alford's first UCLA season went as well as possible.
The Bruins didn't win the national title, but they did win the Pac-12 tournament, advance to the Sweet 16 and sign a decorated recruiting class for next season. Many questioned whether Alford would be able to handle the pressure of coaching the most storied program in college basketball history, but he proved he has the pedigree, confidence and temperament to steer UCLA's ship. The Bruins will lose Kyle Anderson and possibly Zach LaVine after this season, but still should have enough talent to be a top-20 team heading into next season.
5. Tyler Ennis going to the NBA likely makes Kaleb Joseph the next PG at Syracuse.
Another true freshman running the show for the Orange? You better believe it. The 6-foot-3 Joseph was recruited as insurance behind Ennis and now he looks like he'll be Syracuse's primary ball handler from Day 1 next season. Jim Boeheim will have other veteran guards in the program like Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, but neither is a true point guard like Joseph. If Jerami Grant returns, the Orange still should be a top-15 team. If Grant doesn't return, look for sophomores Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson to step into his spot on the wing.
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