Four teams remain in the Southwest Region. To no one's surprise, one of them is the #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks. The other three you might not know as much about. Let's take a look at them each of the potential hurdles standing in front of Kansas in San Antonio on the road to the Final Four.
12 - Richmond Spiders (29-7)
How they got here:
Defeated (4) Vanderbilt 69-66
Defeated (13) Morehead State 65-48
The Spiders are led by seniors Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper. And yes, they're an inside-outside due that should terrify you, as both can flat out shoot the ball. Anderson is not only the primary ball-handler, but also the lead scorer from the perimeter. On the year, he averages about 17 points and 3 assists per game, knocking down his threes at a 42% clip. Against Vandy, he controlled the game and hit a dagger to put the Spiders up 3 late, finishing with 25 points and 4 assists.
Harper does most of his damage facing up, and is very dangerous stretching the defense, netting threes at a 46% clip on the year. At 6'10", but only 225, he'll have a lot of trouble physically defending the twins and Robinson, but he won't let them hang out in the paint on the other end either. For the year, he averages 18 & 7. In the demolition of Morehead on Saturday, he has 19 & 6.
The best counter Richmond will have for Kansas' vaunted front line is Dan Geriot. He's not a terrific rebounder, but at 6'9" 235, he's a much stronger presence on the block and will be able to push them off a bit. And yes, for good measure, he scores 10/game at the other end, shooting his threes at 42%.
The Spiders can't match us athletically, but they'll play us extremely slow, they take extremely good care of the ball, they space the floor well and they hit their open shots. As a team, they shoot 40% from three. Defensively, they run a matchup-zone to help them get to sharp-shooters. And on the year, it's been perhaps their best single attribute. Against Kansas, it probably means a lot of double teams for the twins, so get the ball in the paint and find the open man. That will probably be as much on Tyshawn as anyone.
11 - VCU Rams (26-11)
How they got here:
Defeated (11) USC 59-46
Defeated (6) Georgetown 74-56
Defeated (3) Purdue 94-76
The Rams are led by senior point Joey Rodriguez, who averages 11 points and 5 assists per game. He only makes his triples at a 34% rate, but he's not afraid to shoot them, taking 169 on the year. He's only 5'10", but he's quick, he takes good care of the ball, and when he gets comfortable, he can really get his teammates going (11 assists against Purdue).
Rodriguez runs the show, but their most dangerous players are Jamie Skeen and Bradford Burgess, and both actually can match athleticism on the inside (though only Skeen has the height). Skeen goes 6'9" 240 and on the year, he averages 15 points and 8 boards a game. If you'll remember the trouble we had with the USC front line, know that Skeen put up 16 & 9 against them in pretty efficient fashion.
Burgess runs the floor beautifully, can sky for rebounds and hits his threes at a 40% clip. At only 6'6", we'll have a nice height advantage, but his leaping ability won't make him easy to score over. We'll need to do our work early and post him where we can catch it in close. He can cause all sorts of pressure in the passing lanes and he loves to get out and run, as you saw if you watched him go for 23 & 8 on Purdue yesterday.
I assume VCU would try and press us to death, and despite our propensity to turn the ball over, I actually think that would play right into our hands. Josh might not garner much playing time, but we should be able to pass over the top, play volleyball on the glass and get a ton of easy buckets. I'm not sure what happened to Purdue's defense yesterday, but a repeat of their 94 point outburst seems unlikely at best.
10 - Florida State Seminoles (23-10)
How they got here:
Defeated (7) Texas A&M 57-50
Defeated (2) Notre Dame 71-57
With SIngleton back, Florida State was under-seeded and them being here does not surprise me on bit. Them scoring 71 points on a semi-decent defensive Notre Dame team did shock me. Them going 9-19 from three in said win, absolutely stunned me. The Seminoles are an absolute brick wall of a defensive team, currently leading the nationboth in defensive efficient and eFG% (only 42%). This would truly be a matchup of the country's best defense and arguably the country's best offense (I'd say Ohio State has laid some nice claim to that lately). And actually, they faced the Buckeyes early this year, and though they lost, they held that prolific offense to only 58 points. If we're to face the Seminoles, points will not come easily.
They're a pretty balanced team, but they're led by Chris Singleton on the inside and Derwin Kitchen on the perimeter. Kitchen sets the tone defensively, and is a great penetrator offensively. We would absolutely need good Tyshawn to counter Kitchen in this one, because he's quick and physical enough to control the game on both ends, as witnessed in his 22 point, 10 rebound performance in the win earlier over Duke. He's flanked by former KU recruit and great athlete, Michael Snaer.
Back from a broken foot, Chris Singleton leads them on the interior. And despite only being 6'9", he makes up for it with length and strength, and is about as good of a post defender as I've seen. For the year, he averages 13 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He's by no means at full strength, but he'll play and give us trouble. Helping him is Bernard James and Okaro White. Both are also excellent defenders (with James averaging 2.3 bpg), and they combine to go for about 16 & 10.
Seeds aside, I'd probably have rather faced Notre Dame than Florida State. It's unlikely they shoot it again like they did last night, but when you don't even need to slow things down to keep games in the 50s and 60s, you must be one hell of a defensive team. And that's exactly what the Seminoles have proven to be.
Yes, it's true that Kansas can get to the Final Four with Illinois being the highest seed it faced. But the same thing happened in 2008, and as Davidson showed us all, the seed means nothing this time of year. If they're still playing, they're capable and dangerous. And what they lack in pedigree, they make up for with their stack of house money. All the pressure in San Antonio will be on the Jayhawks. But I wouldn't trade our roster or our position with anyone in the country.