NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.26.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 26th, 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.

East

  • Kentucky/North Carolina is a power matchup in the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels defeated the Wildcats in their showdown last December. Since then, both teams have matured, thus setting the tone for a battle of epic proportions.
  • Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger said he will return to Columbus for his sophomore season. This is a bit of news that we will not believe until it is set in stone. Ask again in a month or so as the draft entry deadline nears.
  • Against both Princeton and Ohio State, Kentucky guard Brandon Knight struggled mightily with his shot, but came up big when it mattered most. We would imagine that the Wildcats will need a much more consistent performance from Knight if they wish to get past North Carolina.
  • Marquette showed some fight in the second half of Friday’s game against North Carolina. It was too little too late, as the Golden Eagles had a terrible first half in which they scored only 15 points.
  • Despite early season struggles, North Carolina center Tyler Zeller believes that the Tar Heels knew they could get deep into the tournament all along. Zeller and his teammates will need this confidence, as they are slated to face a red-hot Kentucky squad on Sunday.

Southeast

  • When Butler went through a swoon in January, head coach Brad Stevens called good friend Mark Few for advice to get his team through the tough time.
  • This Indianapolis Star columnist is not attributing Butler’s run as “magic,” but merely as the best team winning. The Bulldogs need to be on their game if they want to beat Florida to advance to their second straight Final Four.
  • Hailing from little Connersville, Indiana, Butler forward Matt Howard has been the heart and soul of the Bulldogs throughout this season. Howard has been so unselfish that point guard Ronald Nored has, at times, had to beg the big man to shoot more.
  • Florida guard Erving Walker has put the Gators on his back more than once this season. The junior from New York City stands much taller than his 5’8 frame would suggest.
  • Once an afterthought at Georgetown, forward Vernon Macklin has made a big difference for Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators. It is tough not to root for a kid like Macklin, who has battled adversity throughout his collegiate career.

Southwest

  • Kansas has earned a reputation as a group of trash talkers, but they’ve been backing it up with convincing wins. When you’re as dominant as KU has been, sometimes you have to manufacture your own motivation, Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star pontificates.
  • An article from earlier this week details the journey of VCU head coach Shaka Smart. Smart’s Rams were on the bubble just two weeks ago, and now he’s one of the hottest coaching commodities in the nation.
  • The Rams survived two frantic sequences on defense to propel them into Sunday’s regional final against the Jayhawks. After Derwin Kitchen couldn’t get a shot off in regulation, Chris Singleton couldn’t get a bucket to fall in the closing seconds of overtime.
  • Huge in Kansas’ win Friday night were the contributions of Thomas Robinson. With Markieff Morris saddled with two early fouls, Robinson stepped up big, scoring 12 points and hauling in 14 rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. That depth is just one part of what makes the Jayhawks a championship favorite.
  • After three wins, is VCU’s tournament run still luck? Not according to Paul Woody of The Richmond Times-Dispatch. After topping four BCS conference teams in a touch over a week, it’s time to acknowledge VCU’s smart play and strong coaching.

West

  • Every Arizona win stings just a bit more than the last for USC fans. After the NCAA slapped sanctions on the Trojans, Derrick Williams and Momo Jones were granted releases from their LOI’s with Southern Cal and jumped to Arizona.
  • It’ll be Kemba vs. Derrick on Saturday night in Anaheim as two of the game’s brightest stars face off. David Leon Moore of USA Today has the tale of the tape.
  • Kemba Walker and Momo Jones will set their close histories aside for a couple hours. The two were high school teammates at Rice High in Harlem. Also in the New York high school scene was Wildcat forward Kevin Parrom.
  • Teams don’t go from NIT to NCAA Sweet 16 status without some major improvement from young talent. That’s been exactly the case in Tucson for the new-look Arizona Wildcats.
  • Connecticut‘s tourney streak has Husky fans overseas tuning in in the wee hours. Watch parties are prevalent, but this is something a little different.
Brian Goodman (782 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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