Busting Brackets

NCAA Tournament 2024: Ranking the starting lineups of each Sweet 16 team

Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) grabs the ball against
Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) grabs the ball against / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
15 of 17

3. Houston (1-seed)

LJ Cryer (Senior – Guard)

A national champion from his time at Baylor, Cryer has made a major impact in his first season with the Cougars after transferring this past offseason. An impactful player throughout his time in the Big 12, he’s averaged 15.5 points per game this season while making 39% of his 3-pointers. Cryer has taken on a major role for Houston, remains the best 3-point shooter in the Big 12, and dropped 17 points on Longwood before a 20-point effort against Texas A&M to start the NCAA Tournament.

Ja’Vier Francis (Junior – Forward)

An impactful frontcourt piece, Francis is in his third season with the Cougars and is making more contributions than ever. While not exactly an impact forward, Francis still averages 6.0 points and 5.1 rebounds and affects the game in a major way. He led the Big 12 in blocked shots and is one of the highest rated defensive players in the nation. Francis has fouled out twice in Houston’s last three games, but certainly gets his money’s worth and makes a certain impact in that fierce interior defense.

J’Wan Roberts (Senior – Forward)

After taking a big step forward last season, Roberts has been an effective frontcourt weapon for a second straight season for the Cougars. Now making an impact in the Big 12, Roberts averages 9.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game; numbers that are basically on par with his junior year last season. He was named Third Team All-Big 12, impacting the game, especially on the defensive end as an above-average rebounder. Roberts also had 13 points and 8 rebounds against Texas A&M back on Sunday.

Emanuel Sharp (Sophomore – Guard)

This has been the breakout campaign for Sharp, who redshirted two seasons ago before playing a minor last year for the Cougars. Houston has enjoyed his major step forward, with Sharp putting up 12.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while making 37% of his 3-pointers. His impact is felt on both sides of the ball and was really felt back on Sunday, with Sharp scoring 30 points as the Cougars survived a challenge from Texas A&M.

Jamal Shead (Senior – Guard)

Unquestionably the most important piece in Houston, Shead was named both Big 12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for the major impact he’s had for the Cougars. Shead averages 13.2 points and 6.4 assists per game while finishing among the national leaders in assists, steals, and many defensive metrics.  Shead had 21 points and 10 assists on Sunday in his latest double-double and can affect these basketball games at literally every point.