Tag Archives: Gary Payton II

NCAA Tournament Preview: West Region

It is that time again. People filling out brackets at the office, getting into betting pools based on 18- and 19-year-old young men, people trying to pick the right upsets, and maybe even picking that “Cinderella story”. I know it’s a shameless “Caddyshack” reference, but it certainly applies when people get into a bracket for the tournament.

Getting past all the brackets being filled out, let’s take a look at the West Region, which is led by the Oregon Ducks as the region’s number one seed.


The big teams on this side of the bracket are Oregon, Oklahoma, Duke, and Texas A&M, but as a region the West is relatively weak compared to the other sides of the bracket. When I look at the top four teams in this region, I don’t look at one team and think “Oh, they win this region with ease.” Let’s look at the teams that have a pretty good shot at coming out of the West.

Oregon is playing as well as anybody in the country right now. People might be looking at the Ducks and underestimating them a little bit. Don’t sleep on the Quack Attack. They have athletes and play well together as a team.

Oklahoma can win this region as well. They get to play their game(s) in Oklahoma City and are considered one of the top two seeds in the whole tournament. They also have one of the best players in the country in Buddy Hield who can simply take over a game and win that game.

Defending National Champion Duke, which is arguably having a down year, could win this region behind its best player, Grayson Allen. You just have to watch your feet around Grayson. Grayson can flat out score the basketball and if he gets going it can have positive consequences for the Blue Devils.

Celtic great, Bill Russell, has always said basketball is about “getting buckets”. Texas A&M gets buckets in bunches and is scoring an average of 10 points per game more than its opponent. When the Aggies get on a run, it can result in an avalanche of points that their opponents can’t recover from. If teams have to match the scoring of Texas A&M they will be in for a long night and that is why the Aggies can win the West Region.

Players to Watch

Dillon Brooks (Oregon): This kid can play some basketball. Having watched him live, he is a match up problem for most teams. He can post up down low, bang with the big guys, score, or he can take his game to the perimeter and knock down shots. He’s the hybrid type of player that is a nightmare for opposing coaches to game plan for. He’s the leader for Oregon and he could make his national coming out party in the Tournament.

Grayson Allen (Duke): Grayson is another in the long line of hated Duke Blue Devils who can shoot the ball. This player is as tough as they come and can score from the mid-range area, can take it to the rim, and hit the three-point shot with relative ease. If he has another moment like he did in last year’s title game, the Blue Devils could make another special run this year.

Buddy Hield (Oklahoma): This young man was one of the best stories in college basketball this season. The young Bahamian averaged 25 points per game and can also hit the three point shot at a fantastic rate as well. The other thing that comes with a season like he had is that he just might win National Player of the Year. The aspect that I like about him is his personality. He smiles for the cameras, he’s engaging, and looks like he’s actually enjoying himself out on the court. Watch Hield and you could be watching something special happen.

Gary Payton II (Oregon State): This is one of those stories that people who follow Oregon State would only know about. Last time the Beavers were in the NCAA Tournament, Gary Payton Sr. was leading the Beavers to the tournament. It’s a circle of life thing for the Beaver fans. The son, is making his mark this year in the Pac-12 and is in the running for the Player of the Year award for the conference. He plays both ends of the court and to say his relative calm demeanor takes away from his game would be a gross mischaracterization. Watch this kid play. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Thought

At the end of the day, I think the West is about as wide open as it could possibly be. Oregon earned its number one seed by winning the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles but you can’t take anything away from Duke, Oklahoma, or even Texas A&M. As a person who has followed college basketball his entire life, I know the NCAA Tournament is full of surprises and I am sure this year will be no different. Let the games begin.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Photo: google

Sun Devils Pound Beavers into Submission

It’s the time of year for college basketball teams that want to make it to NCAA Tournament to start making their statement by winning games that they should win. That scenario was on display at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday night when the Arizona State Sun Devils demolished the Oregon State Beavers in Pac-12 Conference play by a score of 86-68.

Coming into this game both teams had very average records and were teetering on becoming irrelevant for the rest of the year, so this game had plenty of importance for both the Sun Devils and Beavers. Fortunately, for Sun Devil fans, their team showed up to play. The Devils started the game out by hitting a three-point basket and from there on out it was a blowout. Arizona State could not miss, the Sun Devils shot 46 percent from beyond the arch and 60 percent from the field. When you hit 11 three-pointers things turn out well for you and for ASU it was a welcomed sight because they had gone through a stretch where they had come out slow and it affected them the rest of the game.

Not Thursday night. The Sun Devils looked like a team fighting for a tournament berth and trying to make a “We are not dead” statement.

“It’s a good feeling right now to see the team play that way.” Said Head Coach Bobby Hurley. “I thought we had great energy and getting deflections, generating stops and then that probably didn’t put as much pressure on our offense and we had a lot of guys playing well and contributing.”

The Sun Devils had five guys in double figures and 24 assists on 32 field goals. It was an impressive display of offense by a team that has had a very up and down year to this point in the season.

On the other side of the coin was Oregon State which could not hit a shot in the first half and struggled to score 17 points in the half. The Beavers ended up shooting 19 percent in that first half. They had shots just roll off the rim, rattle in and out basket, and some were just bad shots. You are not going to win when that is happening to your team.

Oregon State was looking to capitalize on their big upset win over the USC Trojans last week in Corvallis. However, they could not get any offense generated. The hole that they dug themselves was too much to overcome and there was nothing that Beaver Head Coach Wayne Tinkle could do to prevent the loss.

The Beavers only shot 38 percent from the free throw line which may have been a direct result of them being distracted by the “Curtain of Distraction” that ASU employs when the opposing team is at the line. The Devils actually had Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps jump out from behind the curtain to jump around in his speedo to distract the Beavers at the line. It worked to perfection because Oregon State missed both free throws while Phelps was there. The crowd went crazy when they realized it was Phelps and the amount of noise that was heard is probably only heard when the Arizona Wildcats come to town to play.

Do the Sun Devils turn this performance into something that causes their season to turn around? Possibly. They do have some tough teams coming up on the schedule. They play Oregon on Sunday evening, travel to the Washington schools next weekend, and still have Arizona, USC, UCLA, and Utah left to play. That is a tough road to conquer, but anything is possible at this point in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils gave their fans a glimmer of hope to hang their hat on, lets just hope the Sun Devils don’t cause their fans to hang themselves with that hat. Forks Up!