NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.2011Posted by Brian Goodman on March 20th, 2011
Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.
- Sunday’s action started with a thrilling game between North Carolina and Washington. The Huskies kept pace with the Tar Heels for most of the high-scoring affair, but Lorenzo Romar‘s move to insert Aziz N’Diaye and Scott Suggs into the starting lineup didn’t yield the result he was hoping for, and the Tar Heels advance to New Jersey.
- Ohio State‘s excellent season to this point can be partially attributed to the devoted work ethic of an Iraq war veteran on its staff. The Buckeyes’ video coordinator, Kevin Kuwik, served a 15-month tour of duty and was awarded a Bronze Star.
- Brandon Knight of Kentucky broke out following a tough day against Princeton on Thursday, going off for 30 points in the Wildcats’ victory over the Mountaineers Saturday afternoon. Until the Wildcats’ final possession against the Tigers, Knight had gone 0-7 from the floor in a forgettable outing from the guard.
- Buzz Williams is being eyed by a number of programs with coaching vacancies, including the Oklahoma Sooners. If you ask us, despite Marquette’s success as a member of the Big East, greener pastures await for Williams. His tireless recruiting and ability to squeeze the most out of his players make him an excellent candidate for a higher-visibility program.
- George Mason coach Jim Larranaga shares coaching philosophies with his Sunday counterpart, Thad Matta. As always, execution will play a role, but we may get a closer game than most expect, considering the seeding.
- One overlooked stat from Friday’s win by Syracuse over Indiana State: A missed free throw in the second half by Orange point guard Brandon Triche put an end to a streak of 37 straight makes from the stripe. He should get plenty of chances to continue a new one when Syracuse takes on Marquette’s physical defense.
- The Badgers went great lengths towards shedding their label as a a tournament underachiever. They let Jacob Pullen get his points, but did a very good job defensively on Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels.
- Brandon Davies‘ absence didn’t stop Dave Rose from turning to a zone defense in Brigham Young‘s victory over Gonzaga. Looming in The Big Easy is a repeat matchup from last season’s tournament against Florida.
- Inconsistent performances have marked Erving Walker‘s career, and on Saturday, he hit a huge shot to redeem himself and seal a trip to the Sweet 16 for the Gators. Florida figures to have a considerable home-court advantage on Thursday in New Orleans.
- Butler returned home after Sunday’s hard-fought win over Pittsburgh to a swarm of jubilant fans at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They’ll draw another Midwestern team in the Wisconsin Badgers on their trip to New Orleans.
- Richmond‘s defensive versatility was crucial in its third round victory over Morehead State. The sole A-10 representative remaining, the Spiders have also been very methodical on offense, committing just ten turnovers in their two games so far. Next up for Chris Mooney and company is either Illinois or Kansas.
- Important to the Jayhawks’ team chemistry this season is their motto of “Family Over Everything.” A rash of off-court circumstances from family tragedies to legal issues have tested Kansas’ perseverance over the course of the season, and the phrase has helped the team stay united.
- VCU looks to extend its Cinderella run on Sunday against Purdue. JaJuan Johnson is sure to command a great deal of attention, and could be the Rams’ single most challenging defensive test of the season.
- When the season started, few expected Notre Dame to be as successful as the Fighting Irish have been. Outperforming expectations to this point, an interesting question is raised: What kind of March results define success this season for Mike Brey‘s team?
- The fate of Florida State‘s season may rest on the right foot of Chris Singleton on Sunday. In his return to action against Texas A&M, Singleton wasn’t stunning, but being on the court provides a psychological boost to his teammates.
- Arizona‘s Derrick Williams gets perhaps his biggest challenge of the season against the Longhorns‘ intimidating front line, including Tristan Thompson. Long-armed Gary Johnson will also be a factor.
- Michigan and Duke look to carve their own histories among prevalent recollections of matchups in the early 1990s between the Blue Devils and Wolverines. Can Michigan stay hot after its 30-point beatdown over Tennessee? What kind of impact will Kyrie Irving have for Duke?
- Classic Kemba: The Connecticut star willed his team to victory, scoring 33 of the Huskies’ 69 points. His eight made shots, in addition to six assists, accounted for involvement on slightly less than two-thirds of UConn’s offensive production.
- San Diego State gets some rest after its double-overtime thriller against Temple. The Aztecs will square off against the Huskies Thursday night in a marquee matchup. Can Steve Fisher‘s troops make a splash against a big-name opponent in the Sweet 16?
- Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton pledged to return to Texas next season. It’s awkward timing for such a statement, as one would think that how far the Longhorns’ advance weighs heavily, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s continued negotiations with the players’ union.