Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NCAA Tournament Fantasy Prospects Nine and Ten

While many people look forward to the reporting of pitchers and catchers in baseball as the first sign of spring, I like to think the thaw begins with the best sporting event of the calendar year: the NCAA tournament. I am one of the few people who supported a 96-team tournament with the idea that more one-and-done basketball can never be a bad thing. I’ll take four extra teams…for now. To get you ready for Fantasy Postseason’s NCAA tournament game, I’ll be going over the top ten prospects over the next week. If you need more college basketball news and advice, please stop by at College Fantasy Hoops Insider. In order to heighten the drama, I’ll start at the end of my top ten list and work toward the top over the next five days. As such, I present to you the number nine and ten players heading into the tournament.

10. Derrick Williams, forward, Arizona Wildcats

There is no end of forecasts for the teams and seeding for the NCAA tournament, but I generally use Joe Lunardi’s projection at ESPN. Right now, he has Arizona as a five-seed, but the Wildcats may be able to improve their seeding if they roll through the rest of their four conference games (which includes a tough trip to southern California) and the Pac 10 tournament. As the conference’s top dog, Arizona also boasts its best player (with apologies to Klay Thompson and Isaiah Thomas). Williams is a 6-foot-8 sophomore who has improved his game by adding range. He has converted an incredible 67.5% of his three-pointers, which indicates both that he can make long range jumpers when left open and, for whatever reason, opponents have been leaving him open. He doesn’t take a lot of threes and has only attempted more than three bombs once this season (and has only missed two in the same game twice). Williams showed in his freshman season that he could score around the basket and that has continued. He is converting 63.1% of his shot to provide 19.7 points. He is a good, but not great rebounder at 8.1 boards and has eight double-doubles. The La Mirada native can get in foul trouble and has been eliminated from five games, including three straight conference games earlier this month, but he makes a solid first pick toward the end of the first round.

9. Jon Leuer, forward, Wisconsin Badgers

While some people might think that I have chosen the wrong Badger, I did give guard Jordan Taylor some consideration before going with the 6-foot-10 forward. Frontcourt players are generally more consistent because their shots come closer to the basket. Leuer is making 48.4% of his shots from the field and 42.6% of his threes (compared to Taylor’s 46.1% on field goals and 41.3% on threes), and adds healthy rebounding totals to his scoring (19.3 points, 7.3 rebounds). When you factor in that Wisconsin plays at the slowest pace in Division 1 (according to KenPom.com) and that Taylor tends to dominate the ball, Leuer’s production is pretty incredible. He has three double-doubles in his last six games, and five double-doubles on the season. Leuer is not quite as selective on threes as Williams and has actually been slumping on his trifectas (4-for-15 in his last four games), but the senior will present match up problems for any opponent. The Badgers get another shot at Ohio State on the last day of the regular season and could improve their seed (currently projected as a three-seed) with a nice run in the Big 10 Conference tournament. Leuer gets the nod over Williams because he rarely gets in foul trouble and has tournament experience (which may be overrated, but the difference between the two players is not great).

Perry Missner is the editor and lead writer at College Fantasy Hoops Insider and the Treasurer of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.