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Sixers fans viewing guide to the Elite 8


As I did for the round of 32 and the Sweet 16, I will be writing about what I'm going to be keying in the Elite 8.

To reiterate, I don't place a whole lot of emphasis on the NCAA tournament. There are exceptions, particularly when small school players go up against NBA-level competition for what may be only the second or third time in their career, like Kenneth Faried did last year, and C.J. McCollum did this year. That mostly doesn't apply anymore, as the further you get into the tournament the less those prominent those players are.

Also, this isn't necessarily a list of the best prospects, and certainly not all the prospects. These are the ones I'm keying on as a Sixers fan/scout, because they could be good fits with the Sixers, because I want more data on them, or because they're going up against a matchup that intrigues me.

None of these teams have played each other earlier in the season, so these are all matchups we haven't yet had a chance to see play out.

Syracuse vs Ohio State

Dion Waiters has been the guy I'v been keying on for the entire tournament, and that doesn't change, particularly as he goes up against Ohio State's stellar defense. His combination of offensive talent and unwavering confidence in his ability is intriguing. If he's grown up (and that's a fairly big if, although this season has been very positive in that regard), I have to think he'll rise on draft boards as the draft approaches.

C.J. Fair had a tremendous game against Wisconsin, but he's not likely to be in this years draft. The rest of the Syracuse team, while incredibly deep and talented, probably don't interest me all that much from a 76ers standpoint, although Kris Joseph's spot-up shooting ability could warrant a look in the second round.

On Ohio State, it will be interesting to see how well William Buford, Aaron Craft and the Ohio State perimeter defenders can do against Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, and the rest of Syracuse perimeter players. Obviously, Jared Sullinger is always worth watching, even if the Sixers have no shot at him, and even if it would be more interesting if Fab Melo were playing. Still, it's always interesting how guys do against the Syracuse zone. It will also be interesting if Buford can come out of the funk he was in against Cincinnati, as he is a key to their success and someone they need to get going.

Baylor vs Kentucky

This matchup is downright interesting, with Perry Jones and Quincy Acy going up against the Kentucky frontline of Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Despite his struggles, 4 of those 5 the Sixers likely have very little chance in, particularly Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but crazier things have happened than Terrence Jones or Perry Jones falling (or the Sixers moving up), so it's worth seeing how they react against their perspective matchups regardless.

From a "guy the Sixers could actually draft and have use fo", Quincy Acy is the guy to watch, and he came out with a huge game against Xavier in the sweet 16 (20 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists on 11 shots). His energy is huge for that team, and I like him as a role player at the next level, even if undersized. How he (and Jones) does against the length of the Kentucky front line is going to be interesting.

If you want to make yourself upset at the Sixers winning ways, watch Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist play. Gilchrist had a huge 24 point, 10 rebound day against Indiana in the sweet 16. Although he wouldn't be a great fit with the Sixers, his combination of physical gifts and effort have long made me a fan of his (although I'm not sure he's a top 3 pick just yet).

North Carolina vs Kansas

How important is Kendall Marshall? Harrison Barnes shot 3-16 from the field as UNC struggled to beat a lesser talented Ohio team in overtime in the sweet 16. How well he and Henson are able to generate their own offense if Marshall doesn't play (they're not ruling it out, but I'd be shocked if he does play) is once again one of the key things to watch. I can't see UNC winning this without Marshall playing, unless Barnes plays out of his mind.

Tyler Zeller had a huge 20 point, 22 rebound game against Ohio, and while I'm not huge on him as a prospect is worth watching as a guy the Sixers could potentially move up and target. How Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey fare against UNC's big front line will be fun to watch. Both are future NBA front lines.

Reggie Bullock is also a guy worth keeping your eye on, and his improvement from deep makes him a legitimate prospect, even if I don't expect him to declare this year.

Florida vs Louisville

This game happened before I wrote up this article, but if you watched it you saw both some of the intrigue and frustrations of Bradley Beal and Patric Young, saw some very frustrating guard play, and saw Gorgui Dieng control the game on the defensive end.

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