We chatted with BTP's staff about this weekend's action:
1. Who is your MVP of the NCAA Tournament so far?
Tim Beck - Xavier Thames, San Diego State. He is averaging over 26 points and 5 assists per game in the tournament. The Aztecs will have their hands full with Arizona tonight, and they will need another big performance from Xavier. My honorable mention goes to Cleanthony Early from Wichita State, because frankly he was in beast mode against Kentucky. If the Shockers had won, he would have been my vote. Other standout players have to be: Adreian Payne, DeAndre Kane, Shabazz Napier, and Jordan Morgan.
Josh Stern - DeAndre Kane. Kane went 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the Cyclones first game against North Carolina Central, and had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists against a very talented North Carolina team. Iowa State was a 7 man rotation before Georges Niang went down, and lack of depth at the point/forward spot forced Kane to play 39 minutes in the win over the Tar Heels. His game-winning shot sealed this award for me.
Chris Kay - I agree with Josh. DeAndre Kane put the team on his back in the game against UNC and led them to that win. He had some clutch passes to lead to open threes at the end of the game and then he drove the lane and made the game winner. He's picking up the slack big time with Niang out.
Nick Moyle - Jarnell Stokes. Tennessee is the only play-in team remaining in the tournament, and the main reason they are still hanging around is due to the tremendous play of 280 pound man-child Stokes. The wide-bodied forward has used his prodigious size to completely overpower opponents to the tune of 20.3 points and 15 rebounds per game on 56 percent shooting. Their closest game in the tournament was a 13 point overtime win in the play-in game against Iowa (sorry Hawkeye fans).
Drew Hamm - It's Shabazz Napier for me. 24 points, 8 boards, 6 assists, and 3 steals against St. Joe's and 25, 5, 3, and 2 against Villanova. He's shooting 46% from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. He was dominant against Nova and willed his team to the Sweet 16. He also has two "z's" in his name. What the hell else do you need?!?
2. When this weekend is over, who from the B1G will be the MVP of the weekend?
Tim Beck - I will say Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines are probably in the best opportunity to make it to the Elite Eight, and may need a good performance from him against Tennessee. He has played well so far, but is due for a monster game. I think he gets at least one this weekend.
Josh Stern - Jordan Morgan. Morgan recorded two double-doubles, and went for 15 and 10 against a massive Texas frontline. The question all season for Michigan was their frontcourt play, and Morgan helped to silence some doubters over the first weekend. I expect his play to continue, and even if he doesn't have as great an impact on the offensive end, his defense could be the key for Michigan to keep advancing.
Chris Kay - Adreian Payne is going to be THE guy that is the MVP of this upcoming weekend. I hate to say it, but I think Michigan will have to hope their three-point shooting game is on this weekend against UT to win and I think that means they spread the wealth. With MSU playing UVA, Payne will be forced to do more offensively than ever before. UVA is a good defensive team and will completely take Keith Appling out of the game. I expect Gary Harris to play well, but it'll be Payne that decides whether or not MSU advances and I think that happens.
Nick Moyle - Adreian Payne, for every single reason Chris wrote above (thanks for writing my answer for me).
Drew Hamm - Let's go out on a limb here and say my prediction of Wisconsin making the Final Four comes to pass. Let's go further out on that limb and say that TRAEVON I'M NOT SURE IF I'M ALLOWED TO CURSE DURING THIS ROUNDTABLE JACKSON will be the B1G MVP of the weekend. He'll have to be for Wisconsin to make it that far. *knocks on every piece of wood in the city of Chicago for anti-jinxing purposes*
3. Out of the 3 B1G Teams left, who will make it the farthest?
Tim Beck - Michigan. I still feel like the Michigan State hype is just a tad overdone and they run into a very good Virginia squad. Wisconsin will beat Baylor, but will have a very tough game against Arizona after that. I think Michigan beats Tennessee, who I see as a similar team to the Wolverines. Michigan is better, and if they come to play they will win. They will then get either Louisville or Kentucky, both of which are beatable. And they should be tired after beating up on each other.
Josh Stern - This is a really tough one. All three teams are in great position to make the Final Four, but I think Michigan is the only one that gets it done. They have a very winnable game against Tennessee, and then will play a physically/mentally exhausted winner of Louisville-Kentucky.
Chris Kay - Well, I think Wisconsin will be running into two teams playing very well right now in Arizona and Baylor, so I don't like their chances. If Michigan State can beat UVA then they get a matchup against Iowa State (likely) that they'll dominate on the inside, so I'll say them. I have ISU going to the Final Four in my bracket, but I just think Michigan state was going to get beat early by Cincinnati (if they wouldn't have choked) or not till the Final Four (Florida).
Nick Moyle - Michigan State. They got a tougher than expected test from Harvard, but that might be a good thing after a thorough dismantling of Delaware in the first round may have given the Spartans a little too much confidence. Virginia is going to be tough, but they have yet to be tested at all this tournament. I think that works in the Spartans favor. If the Spartans end up playing a Niang-less Iowa State team in the Elite Eight I expect them to punch their ticket to Texas. I'm very wary of Wisconsin's matchup with the Baylor Bears, who are playing some very inspired basketball right now after destroying the college basketball career of Doug McDermott and making his dad/coach cry. I think Michigan will get past Tennessee, but will falter against the winner of the Louisville-Kentucky game/war. If I'm wrong I plan to blame Obama for brainwashing me with his presidential bracketology selections.
Drew Hamm - I like Michigan State's chances the best. UVA is tough, but beatable (see: Wisconsin game earlier this year) and an injured Iowa State team, who might be thinking they are just happy to be in the Elite Eight, could prove to be an easier out. Michigan is probably going to lose to Louisville and Wisconsin has a tough matchup with Baylor (and an even tougher potential matchup with Arizona or SDSU); sometimes I wonder why I picked them to make the Final Four at all? Stupid, sexy Nigel Hayes.
4. Give me your Final Four: before the Tourney started; and if you could change it knowing what you know today, what would be your Final Four now?
Tim Beck - This is easy for me. My Final Four was Florida vs Virginia, and Arizona vs Michigan. I am standing by my picks! Here is an interesting thought, now: What about a Final Four of Florida vs Michigan State and Wisconsin vs Michigan... how cool would that be?
Josh Stern - My Final Four was Iowa State, Florida, Arizona and Michigan. I felt confident about it before, and not changing it now.
Chris Kay - My Final Four was Iowa State, Louisville, Florida and Arizona. I definitely will stand by the Florida and Arizona picks. I think UL crushes Kentucky and would do well against either Michigan or UT, so I'm going to leave them in there as well. At this point I think ISU makes it to the Elite Eight but will lose to MSU if they get there and I think they will, so swap me in some Sparty.
Nick Moyle - Before the tourney started I had Syracuse vs. Michigan State and Arizona vs. Louisville. Boeheim let me down (as usual) so I would take UCLA out of that bracket now. I love how the Bruins are playing and have slight man-crush on Kyle Anderson. Florida is the safer choice, but I like to pick my brackets the way Austin Power likes to play blackjack. I stick with my pick of Michigan State over Louisville in the championship game.
Drew Hamm - My Final Four was/is Florida vs. Michigan State and Wisconsin vs. Louisville. *starts humming "Don't Stop Believin'"