Monday, August 31, 2015

8 to watch in Philly

A look at one player from each of the eight teams coming to Philly for the NCAA Tournament

8 to watch in Philly

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In 2006, the Wachovia Center hosted eight teams for first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

In Villanova's victory over Monmouth, Randy Foye and Allan Ray combined to score 36 points.
Connecticut's Marcus Williams hit several key three-pointers to help the Huskies overcome No. 16-seed Albany.

Villanova and Connecticut, albeit with different stars, return to Philadelphia for first-round games on Thursday.

Here is a look at a player on each of the eight teams playing at the Wachovia Center on Thursday.

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Hasheem Thabeet
School: Connecticut
Position: Center
The matchup: No. 1 Connecticut plays No. 16 Chattanooga at 2:50 p.m.
What makes him special: No other player impacts the opposing team's offense like Thabeet. He's first in the NCAA with 142 blocks on the season and was voted the Big East Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. But it's not just his defense anymore. He also had 16 double-doubles on the season.
His numbers: 4.6 blocks per game, 64.3 percent field goal percentage (second in nation), 13.7 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game (11th in nation). 

Stephen McDowell
School: Chattanooga
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 16 Chattanooga plays No. 1 Connecticut at 2:50 p.m.
What makes him special: McDowell played two seasons with back-to-back NIT champion South Carolina before transferring. He graduated with a degree in finance in December 2007.
His numbers: 18.6 points per game, 43.4 three-point field goal percentage.

Lee Cummard
School: Brigham Young
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 8 BYU plays No. 9 Texas A&M at 12:30 p.m.
What makes him special: Cummard was a 2004 McDonald's All-America nominee. Last season, he was an AP All-American honorable mention and the Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year.
His numbers: 16.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, .520 field goal percentage.

Chinemelu Elonu
School: Texas A&M
Position: Forward/Center
The matchup: No. 9 Texas A&M plays No. 8 BYU at 12:30 p.m.
What makes him special: Elonu moved into the post this season after 4-year starter Joseph Jones graduated. The junior, whose sister Adaora plays for the Aggies' women's team, would present an interesting
matchup in the second round against Thabeet, as he was heavily recruited by UConn.
His numbers: 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per game.

Scottie Reynolds
School: Villanova
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 3 Villanova plays No. 14 American at 7:20 p.m.
What makes him special: Reynolds has scored at least 20 points in three of his four NCAA Tournament games and led the team in scoring in each of them. If his shot is not falling, he often gets to the free throw line, leading the team with 5.6 attempts per game.
His numbers: 15.5 points per game, 3.6 assists per game.

Derrick Mercer
School: American
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 14 American plays No. 3 Villanova at 7:20 p.m.
What makes him special: The 5-7 point guard, who is generously listed at 5-9, was named the Patriot League Player of the Year last week. Last season, he nailed two free throws to send the Eagles to their first-ever NCAA Tournament. He has played in every game at American, averaging 37.2 minutes per game this season, and has only missed two starts.
His numbers: 11.5 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, 41.4 three-point field goal percentage.

Darren Collison
School: UCLA
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 6 UCLA plays No. 11 VCU at 9:45 p.m.
What makes him special: Collison, the son of two track and field athletes, mixes speed with endurance. He leads the
Bruins in minutes played per game at 31.5 but still has the quickness to pester opposing teams on both sides of the ball.
His numbers: 91.2 free throw percentage (first in NCAA), 14.5 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, 54 steals.

Eric Maynor
School: Virginia Commonwealth
Position: Guard
The matchup: No. 11 VCU plays No. 6 UCLA at 9:45 p.m.
What makes him special: Who can forget Maynor's game-winning shot over Duke's Jon Scheyer with 1.8 seconds to go two tournaments ago that gave the Rams a 79-77 victory? He led his team in scoring in all but nine of the Rams' 33 games this season, only scoring less than double figures twice.
His numbers: 22.4 points per game (11th in the nation), 6.2 assists per game (16th in the nation).
 

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