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Published:March 11th, 2007 07:51 EST
Experience Looks to Outplay Highly Touted Youth in NCAA March Madness

Experience Looks to Outplay Highly Touted Youth in NCAA March Madness

By Zach Crizer

The fact is that the most talented players in college today are freshman waiting to satisfy the age limit to move to the NBA. However, while Texas freshman Kevin Durant is the favorite for National Player of the Year, and Ohio State freshman Greg Oden is projected as the number one pick in the NBA Draft, their teams’ will not be cutting down the nets in early April. Experience in the NCAA Tournament is key. Understanding the emotions and pressure of “March Madness,” can propel a team with less NBA prospects over a frenzied group of ultra-talented teenagers.

In the upper echelon of college basketball, there is a mixture of experience and raw talent. Candidates for the four top seeds include UCLA, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Kansas.

Florida and UCLA are the perfect examples of tournament savvy teams. They were the final two teams standing last season, with Florida knocking off the Bruins in the NCAA Championship Game.

Both are near locks for number one seeds. Florida returns all-important players from their championship season, and should be a favorite. However, it is extremely difficult to repeat, as every team will have the extra motivation of beating the defending champions.

UCLA was edged out last season, finishing as the runner up, but like Florida, they return many key players and will look to make another run this season. The key to their season has been starting point guard Darren Collison. He saw plenty of playing time last season coming off the bench, and he specializes in distributing the ball to his teammates.

Collison averages six assists and two steals per game, spearheading the Bruins’ offense, and making the scoring easier for junior guard Aaron Afflalo, the leading scorer who led their run to the Final Four last season. He averages over 17 points a game, and is complemented by steady sophomores Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Wisconsin is another team familiar with the pressure of the tournament. The Badgers start a lineup of upperclassmen, led by seniors Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor. Tucker is a candidate for National Player of the Year and is clearly the best senior player in the country.

Tucker drops in 20.2 points per game, and grabs 5.3 rebounds. Taylor complements Tucker’s textbook style with a slashing perimeter game. Taylor scores 12.8 points a game and leads the team with 53 three-point shots made this season.

UCLA and Wisconsin should be favorites to use their savvy leaders and precise styles of play to reach the Final Four in Atlanta.

One dark horse that will not be in the running for a high seed but could still reach the later stages of the tournament is Oklahoma State. Led by senior Mario Boggan and junior JamesOn Curry, the team has had some missteps recently, but should gain some intensity come Big 12 Tournament time.

Watch for Kansas, Ohio State and North Carolina to make earlier exits than UCLA and Wisconsin as the pressure of March Madness mounts upon baby faced freshman sensations, and upperclassmen march on.