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With the first week of the tournament behind us, the amount of exciting, must-see players has slimmed down along with the field.
Although there were some surprising upsets, those teams did not achieve cinderella status without talented and star caliber players.
I will try to shy away from the obvious picks and provide what should be some intriguing and possibly unforeseen individual battles for the upcoming round.
There are eight games over the next two days, and here are five player matchups to watch.
Korie Lucious vs Ali Farokhmanesh
You’ve probably seen Ali Farokhmanesh’s clutch three against Kansas many times, and deservedly so. That shot epitomized what March Madness is all about.
You’ve also seen the game-winning shot by Michigan State against Maryland, although you may not remember the name of the player that saved the Spartans season. After star point guard Kalin Lucas went down, sophomore Korie Lucious stepped up and ended up with the game-winning shot.
Lucas is out for the entire tournament with an injury, meaning Lucious and Farokhmanesh are destined for a back and forth battle behind the arc.
Jordan Crawford vs Jacob Pullen
Two of the most underrated guards coming into the tournament have already made a name for themselves, and face off in the Sweet Sixteen.
Xavier’s Jordan Crawford and Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen both play shooting guard, which means the college basketball fanbase should be in for a treat.
Crawford finished with 28 points against Minnesota and 27 against Pittsburgh, while Pullen scored 15 against North Texas and outdueled Jimmer Fredette to finish with 34 against BYU.
As a two seed K-State is favored in the game, but the matchup of Crawford-Pullen will play a big factor in the final outcome.
Ekpe Udoh vs Omar Samhan
The team many people are calling this year’s cinderella, St. Mary’s, continues its run against a strong Baylor team that a handful of experts have picked to go to the Final Four.
So far St. Mary’s big man Omar Samhan has dominated competition, going for 29 points and 12 rebounds against Richmond and overpowering Villanova for 32 and 7.
NBA scouts are still trying to figure out Samhan, and will have a great opportunity to evaluate him agianst another big man of proven NBA caliber in Udoh.
If there’s a matchup to watch in the Sweet Sixteen, it’s Udoh vs Samhan.
Chris Kramer vs Jon Scheyer
It seems as if the loss of key player Robbie Hummel was overhyped after all, as Purdue is still in the tourney entering week two.
Stopping Duke will be no easy task however, and Purdue will turn to their best perimeter defender Chris Kramer to shut down Duke’s leading scorer Jon Scheyer.
Many experts around the country consider Kramer as the best perimiter defender in the nation, so he should be prepared for the task.
Scheyer has been cold shooting the ball of late, going for a dismal 1 for 11 against California, but is a dangerous offensive player when hot.
DeMarcus Cousins vs Jeff Foote
Kentucky is the presumable favorite now that Kansas has been eliminated, and will face a sharp shooting Cornell team in the Sweet Sixteen.
Although John Wall leads the Wildcat’s offense, the player to watch will be DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has dominated thus far in the tournament, but will be facing center Jeff Foote down low, who has been named the Ivy League defensive player of the year twice and is a first team All-Ivy Leaguer this season.
While Foote should not be expected to fully slow down Cousins, it will nonetheless be an intriguing matchup between two opposite teams.