College Hoops Extra: Week 12

Opening Tip
The player you should be watching
The discussion of great Southern Illinois guards begins and ends with Walt Frazier, but senior Darren Brooks has made quite an impression in his four seasons with the Salukis.

Southern Illinois may be thought of as a team that is great at home and more average on the road, but Brooks stands out wherever he plays. He gives the Salukis a chance to win regardless of opponent or location, which bodes well come NCAA Tournament time.

* Last 6 road games: 47.4 percent FG, 16.7 PPG, 4.6 APG

Rocking the Rim
Spotlight on team trends
Who gets more out of their "Big 3" than the 49ers (and we're not talking about Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig here)? Charlotte, which has had an outstanding season, has a threesome of Eddie Basden, Curtis Withers and Brendan Plavich that matches up well with just about anyone.

Maybe that's why head coach Bobby Lutz can feel really good going into the NCAA Tournament. Those guys make his job fairly easy and rank among the leaders both within the league and nationally.

The best teams tend to be the ones that can put five solid players on the floor, and have a threat to score everywhere, like at North Carolina and Illinois. Those who are dangerous are the ones with three great players, because those are capable of completely dominating a game.

Matchup note of the week
A closer look at key games
The two most recent members of the 700-win club will go head-to-head on Saturday as Connecticut tussles with Syracuse with both teams jostling for top-three seeds in the upcoming Big East Tournament.

Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim are considered two of the finest in their craft, and have the victories and the respect from their peers to show it.

The Hall of Fame would do well to honor either of these men, if not both, regardless of the outcome this Saturday.

In the bonus
A look at some of college basketball's hidden gems
We must admit to being rather puzzled at seeing Winthrop's record after we were tipped off that the Eagles are statistically unique.

Winthrop's success is extremely dependent on team play, perhaps as much as any squad in the country. The Eagles enter Saturday's Big South final at 26-5 overall and on a 16-game winning streak despite only having two players average in double figures in scoring (guards Torrell Martin and James Shuler both at just over 12 a game) and not having a player averaging more than 4.5 rebounds per game.

"We've won a lot of games over the last seven years, but we've only had the conference player of the year once," said Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall. "We have young players with tremendous talent and we have tremendous depth. We have guys that would be all-conference second team or even first team if they had the opportunity to play more."

When Marshall talks about the depth, he means it. The Eagles can put a unit on the floor that can shoot, defend, and rebound at all five spots on the floor. Seven different players grab more than three boards per game.

"Our guys play very, very hard when they come in, then they come out, and play very, very hard when they come back in," Marshall said. "I have to hand it to the players. They've been the consummate team all season. We've evolved into a 'team of the year.' Now we have to be the team of the postseason."

Mark Simon is a researcher for ESPN's college basketball coverage and Baseball Tonight.