Published March 15, 2010
North Texas (24-8)
COACH: Johnny Jones, eight years at Murray State, two years in NCAA Tournament
HOW THEY GOT IN: Automatic bid (Sun Belt)
MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: The Mean Green has a puncher's chance against second-seeded Kansas State but must make a few things happen. First, guards Josh White and Tristan Thompson have to be strong with the ball against the Wildcats' excellent backcourt. Secondly, the big man duo of center Eric Tramiel and forward George Odufuwa must announce their presence with authority in the lane on both ends. Finally, North Texas can't stop Gs Jacob Pullen or Denis Clemente, but must make them volume scorers -- i.e., force them to take 20 shots to score 15-20 points. If it can do all three reasonably well, an upset is possible.
GO-TO GUYS: The Mean Green offer a balanced attack with four players in double figures, led by G Josh White at 14.9 points per game and swingman Tristan Thompson at 14.1. But don't sleep on the post players, as C Eric Tramiel and F George Odufuwa combine for 24.5 points per game and 16.6 rebounds. Odufuwa averages a double-double, helping this team win the boards by more than four per game.
THEY'LL KEEP WINNING IF: They get good production from their "Big Four" while controlling the boards. Limiting turnovers in the tournament would help as well, as the team made 60 more than the opposition. If they can do that and get their big scorers their shots, this isn't a team a top three seed will want to draw for its opener.
STRENGTHS: The Mean Green can match up with most big boys physically, thanks to the presence of the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Tramiel and the 6-8, 240-pound Odufuwa. White and Thompson are versatile scorers, combining to hit 114-of-285 3s and shooting better than 80 percent at the foul line. As a team, North Texas has converted more free throws (639) than its opponents have shot (607), averaging nearly 28 attempts per game.
WEAKNESSES: If a team can limit or stop one or two of the team's "Big Four," it's unlikely someone else can step up to fill in the gaps. No one else averages more than Shannon Shorter's 6.4 points per game. Tramiel is susceptible to foul trouble, as he's been disqualified six times. And the big guys -- Tramiel and Odufuwa -- are poor foul shooters, combining to make 60 percent for the year.