Prospect Watch - February 8, 2012

Tonight may be the best single day of NCAA games until Tournament time.  Duke at UNC, Georgetown at Syracuse, and Kansas at Baylor highlight a full slate of games.  It is also the start of NBA Draft Blog’s daily Prospect Watch, where I will look at key players in the day’s big matchups and what they will need to do to help their team win.

Duke at North Carolina

Austin Rivers has played his best ball of the season over the last 6 games (16.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg).  His ability to break down defenders and get into the lane has given space to the shooters on the perimeter and to Mason Plumlee in the post.

What to watch tonight? How does Rivers handle going to the rim with Tyler Zeller and John Henson waiting for him?  Duke will need Rivers to be aggressive and go right at the big men, try and draw contact and get them into foul trouble early.

Tyler Zeller has been a force in the post for UNC so far this ACC season (17.8 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 bpg).  With a lack of shooters on the perimeter for the Tar Heels, Zeller’s ability to score around the rim and hit the offensive boards has helped UNC down the stretch of close games.

What to watch tonight? Duke’s perimeter defense has shown signs of improvement the last few games.  Though the Duke guards may have trouble keeping Kendall Marshall out of the lane, UNC will still need Zeller to hit the offensive glass and try to get Duke’s only legitimate big man, Mason Plumlee, in foul trouble.

Georgetown at Syracuse

Kris Joseph has yet to have a real breakout game in his senior season, but with his ability, you know it can come at any time.  Joseph is averaging 13.6 ppg over his last 5 games, while shooting 47% from the field in that span.

What to watch tonight? Georgetown plays tough team defense, but teams that attack them straight on seem to have the best luck against it.  Watch for Joseph to work the baseline and look for opportunities to get to the rim.

Hollis Thompson has already hit some big shots for the Hoyas this season to win games down the stretch.  He is shooting almost 50% from 3 this season, but has been inconsistent during the last few weeks.

What to watch tonight? Against the Syracuse zone defense, Thompson is going to get some good looks, especially when the ball goes to Henry Sims in the high post.  If the Hoyas are going to stay in this game on the road, Thompson is going to need to knock down the open looks.

Kansas at Baylor

Tyshawn Taylor has been playing the best games of his career over the last month.  Taylor has averaged almost 22 points and 5 assists over his last 7 games, and he single-handedly got Kansas off to a hot start on the road at Missouri last Saturday.  Taylor’s ability to score has taken some of the burden off of Thomas Robinson, allowing him to do what he does best, attacking the offensive glass.

What to watch tonight? Robinson could have his hands full with the combination of Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy in the post.  Taylor will need to be able to find the holes in the zone, get the balls to the wings, and hope to break it down enough to get Robinson easy touches around the basket.

Quincy Miller, as most freshmen do, has had an up and down season.  Since scoring 29 against Missouri, he has scored 39 total in the last 4 games, while shooting only 36% from the field.  He has the length and athletic ability to get to the rim or get good looks from the perimeter.

What to watch tonight? Kansas does not really have a defender capable of guarding Miller, especially with Jones III and Acy keeping Robinson and Withey busy.  With limited depth in the frontcourt, Miller should look to attack the defense and try and get the Kansas big men in foul trouble.

Check back tomorrow for more Prospects to keep your eye on as we start the Road to the 2012 NBA Draft. 

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