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March 7, 2012

Ask the experts: March Madness edition

MORE EXPERTS: Feb. 29 | Feb. 22 | Feb. 12

Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.

What head-to-head player matchup would you enjoy seeing in the NCAA tourney after seeing the players go at it on the high school level?

Meyer: The best duel out of the freshmen would be Duke's Austin Rivers versus Florida's Brad Beal. They are both elite guards who have a history of great matchups. In addition they play on guard-oriented teams that are weak at the forward position making the teams almost mirror images. Tony Wroten is another talented guard who is having a great freshman year at Washington. It would be fun to watch him go up against either Rivers or Beal as well. In the post, I wouldn't mind another Anthony Davis-Cody Zeller showdown. The first go around, Indiana squeaked out a win and Zeller more than held his own against Davis. I'm sure Davis and Kentucky would love another crack at Zeller and the Hoosiers.

Bossi: I'm always in favor of seeing a head-to-head between Austin Rivers and Brad Beal. The two have sparked plenty of debate as to who is better over the years, you have the fact that Rivers was originally committed to Florida and they are both fierce competitors. Another that I wouldn't mind seeing is North Carolina's Harrison Barnes and Memphis' Will Barton. The two got after each other pretty good on a few occasions during summer ball and I think they'd both be pretty fired up to go at each other. It's not a head-to-head player matchup, but a team matchup that I would really enjoy watching would be Marquette and Missouri. The teams have similar personal types with lots of quick guards and a generally undersized roster. Not to mention, the added intrigue there would be after the somewhat controversial ending to their 2009 second-round NCAA game.

Do early-round flops in the NCAA Tournament matter to high school prospects?

Meyer: I don't think they hurt that much if at all. I do think making a run in the tournament is a significant boost in recruiting, but I don't think an early exit necessarily hurts. Most recruits probably feel that they can be the one to produce a better result the next year.

Bossi: To some it may matter some, but by in large I don't think that it's all that big of a factor. Players today are more concerned with their relationship with the staff, overall player development and whether or not they can get on the floor any particular loss during a season.

What college coach has best developed his players this season considering where they were as high school players coming into his program?

Meyer: I love the development of Draymond Green at Michigan State. He is in great shape and maximizing on his ability under Coach Tom Izzo. Bill Self and assistant coach Danny Manning certainly deserve a ton of credit for the play of post players Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey at Kansas. Cuonzo Martin also comes to mind for the spectacular job he has down in developing the Tennessee team as a whole and changing the culture in that program.

Bossi: This is a tough question because there are so many good answers. I think that I'm going to go off the grid a little bit and go with Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State and what he's done with a transfer-laden roster. I don't think many people saw them being as good as they've been this year because while they've got some transfers who had lofty reputations in high school like Royce White, Chris Allen and Anthony Booker, they were guys seen as malcontents. Hoiberg has really maximized White's versatility making him into one of the most difficult one-on-one matchups in the country while for the most part getting Allen and Booker (even though he hasn't been super productive) to buy in. He's gotten great contributions from guys like Melvin Ejim and transfers Scott Christopherson and Chris Babb.

Of the true freshmen in college, who is most likely to take over March Madness?

Meyer: The Kentucky duo of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an immediate answer. The guards mentioned in question one - Rivers, Beal, Wroten - are fully capable of taking a game over and also winning a game at the end.

Bossi: Clearly, Anthony Davis has been proving lately that he can take over a game on either end of the floor. To me, he's the most obvious candidate but you can't count out Austin Rivers -- who offensively can take over a game like no other freshman -- in the discussion. If he finds his outside shot again, Brad Beal is in that group and Indiana's Cody Zeller is a guy capable of controlling the paint in tightly contested, physical NCAA Tournament games. As long as Washington gets into the tournament, they have the talent to get hot and the nation could finally get a look at just how talented Tony Wroten is. Much further down the list -- relative to 2011's final Rivals150 -- you have Michigan's Trey Burke. He's maybe the best point guard in the Big Ten and arguably the single-most important player when it comes to the Wolverines' March Madness hopes.

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