Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It's like Christmas, the Super Bowl and Shark Week rolled into one. Even if it's 80 degrees out, you still won't see a soul outside Thursday or Friday. Or at least not any sports fans.
Nope, they're all glued to their couch to endure the first 48 hours of March Madness. Seriously, don't expect Dad to take the trash out tonight. Or tomorrow night.
But before we dive head-first into this year's tournament, let's get nostalgic for a second. "Madness" really was the only way to describe what happened in last year's NCAA tournament.
VCU, an 11-seed, went from the "First Four" to the Final Four. Connecticut, a team that finished ninth in its conference, won the whole darn thing.
Last year was total chaos. My bracket had more cross-outs on it than one of Fab Melo's mid-terms. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
We don't know when or if Cinderella will show up to this year's dance, but we're hoping 2012's tourney is just as breathtakingly awesome as last year's was.
Let's see how some of last year's March Madness heroes are faring in the NBA this season according to their fantasy value.
Kenneth Faried, Forward, Denver Nuggets - We'll never forget Faried's gutsy 17-rebound performance in Morehead State's upset of fourth-seeded Louisville. Touted as the next Ben Wallace, Faried has lived up to the hype during his rookie year in Denver. Even in just 19.5 minutes per game, Faried has emerged as an excellent source of rebounds (6.8 per game) and blocks (1.1) for fantasy owners. He's also capable of scoring points, something Big Ben has never done with consistency. Faried's scoring a respectable 8.6 points per contest in 2011-12. He has been a shockingly effective fantasy contributor this season.
Jimmer Fredette, Guard, Sacramento Kings - Jimmer put BYU hoops back on the map in 2010-2011. Even though the Cougars only made it to the Sweet 16, Fredette may have had the best NCAA tournament out of anyone, leading the nation with 32.7 points per game in the postseason. Jimmer is still knocking down 3-pointers and shooting free throws at a high percentage, but his measly 7.7 points per game is less than what we were expecting from him. He's been a fantasy disappointment in 2011-12.
Justin Harper, Forward, Orlando Magic - Harper had a senior year for the ages at the University of Richmond, leading the Spiders to a rare Sweet 16 birth (they eventually lost to Kansas, a No. 1 seed). The 6-foot-10 forward led Richmond in scoring, rebounding, free-throw percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. Harper has spent most of his rookie year on the Magic's bench. The 22-year-old is still looking for his first NBA points. Hey, it's not all bad, though, he's still making $473,000. Not a bad salary right out of college.
Brandon Knight, Guard, Detroit Pistons - Knight wasn't in college for long (just one season), but while he was there, he did manage to appear in the Final Four, an accomplishment that alluded John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins during their time at Kentucky. The Wildcats' leading scorer a year ago has transitioned smoothly into his new role as Detroit's starting point guard. Knight is tallying 12.5 points per game, third-best amongst rookies. The one knock on Knight has been his low assist totals (just 3.7 per game). He had 11 assists against Sacramento Wednesday, though, so it looks like Knight is well on his way to fantasy stardom.
Kawhi Leonard, Forward, San Antonio Spurs - Leonard was the ringleader of San Diego State's terrific 34-3 team last season. Still, many thought Leonard would be too short (6-7) to play the four at the next level. He's proved his critics wrong by posting a solid 7.5 points and five rebounds per game in his first season in San Antonio. It might be a stretch to have him on your fantasy team this year, but it seems like Leonard is well on his way to becoming fantasy relevant.
Shelvin Mack, Guard, Washington Wizards - Mack was second on Butler in scoring a year ago and he nearly led the Bulldogs to their first national title, falling just short against UConn. Mack has seen minutes in 39 of Washington's 41 games this season, but at only 3.2 points per game, he's not very useful in fantasy at this point.
The Morris Twins - Markieff and Marcus were phenomenal in the frontcourt for top-seeded Kansas a season ago. On draft night, Markieff ended up in Phoenix while Marcus was picked up by Houston. Markieff has been the more successful of the two brothers. He's averaging 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest for the Suns, and he appeared in the Rookie/Sophomore game at All- Star Weekend last month. Meanwhile, Marcus has struggled in his rookie season, splitting time between the Rockets and their development league affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Either way, neither Morris brother has provided much in terms of fantasy value this season.
Chris Singleton, Forward, Washington Wizards - As one of the premier defensive players in college basketball last season (and also his team's second-leading scorer), Singleton propelled Florida State into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1992. Singleton has actually started quite a few games for Washington this season (26 starts), but his points per game and rebounding numbers aren't strong enough to land him on our fantasy radar just yet.
Kemba Walker, Guard, Charlotte Bobcats - Walker carried UConn to its third national title last April. There won't be any confetti for Kemba at the end of this season, though. The Bobcats have been horrible (6-35) this season. But don't pin that on Walker. He has done his part by scoring a healthy 12.4 points per game, fourth-best among rookies. He gets plenty of playing time, so Walker is a legit fantasy option if you need a guard who can score.
Derrick Williams, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves - Last season's Pac-10 player of the year from Arizona was the breakout star of the tournament in 2011. Most of us had heard of him, but we didn't know quite how dominant he really was until he destroyed Duke in the Sweet 16. He's having an average rookie year for Minnesota (8.8 ppg), but if Williams can improve his rebounding (just 4.7 per game) he should have some fantasy potential in a couple of years.
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