NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.31.14 EditionPosted by Griffin Wong on March 31st, 2014
March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.
- Florida‘s seniors have been knocking on the door of the Final Four for their entire careers, but this past weekend they finally sealed the deal. Though it has been a long road, the wait was definitely worth it.
- Having to adjust to injuries and suspensions has only made Florida that much stronger heading into the Final Four.
- Florida has a chance to avenge both of its only two regular season losses with UConn and Wisconsin also in the Final Four.
- The Gators should be well-prepared for this weekend, as it has faced its three Final Four companions a total of five times this season (going 3-2).
- From spectator to manager to walk-on, Florida’s Jacob Kurtz has been an integral part of the Gators because of his prowess on the scout team. However, Kurtz became more that that this season, as he filled in with 19.2 minutes per game in November when the Gators were decimated with injuries and suspensions.
- As the only 1-seed remaining, Florida is now a heavy favorite to go to the distance.
- Wisconsin can fly under the radar sometimes, but after knocking off Arizona, the Badgers won’t be ignored by anyone this weekend.
- After advancing to the Final Four, Charles Barkley declared that Wisconsin “could beat the Bucks.” That may be a stretch, but either way, the Badgers are playing some outstanding basketball right now.
- Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan kept lessons he learned during his childhood and from his late father in mind as the Badgers reached the Final Four this past weekend.
- Though Wisconsin got the job done against #1 seed Arizona, the Badgers are just trying to take things game by game – or tournament by tournament. Senior Ben Brust described his team’s mentality: “We’re taking this as little tournaments,” he said. “We won Tournament 1 in Milwaukee. We won Tournament 2 in Anaheim. And now we have Tournament 3 out there in Dallas.”
- Though they’ve had a couple close calls, seven-footer Frank “the Tank” Kaminsky is the primary reason why the Badgers are still playing.
- As a result of his stellar play, could Frank Kaminsky be looking more and more like a future NBA player?
- Just a year after the UConn Huskies were banned from postseason play, they now find themselves back in the Final Four.
- Yet again, All-American Shabazz Napier led the way for UConn yesterday, notching 25 big points, including five key ones late in the game.
- In just his second season as the head coach in Storrrs, Kevin Ollie has led UConn all the way to the Final Four.
- Michigan State came in as the favorite, but UConn wanted to make sure it “hit first” against the Spartans. The Huskies did just that, and although they let up their early lead, they still found a way to take it back by the time the final buzzer sounded.
- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo’s streak of never having a four-year senior without a Final Four appearance may have ended, but that wasn’t what he was frustrated about yesterday. The Spartans’ nine-point second half lead vanished largely thanks to their poor shot selection and turnovers.
- Michigan State seemed bound for the Final Four during much of yesterday’s second half, but it just couldn’t hang on to the lead. “We had 16 of the most out-of-body turnovers known to mankind,” Tom Izzo said. “I mean, you’re just not going to win games like that.” Whether it was a bad performance by the Spartans or a good one by the Huskies, the fact remains that Michigan State is going home.
- As the final seconds ticked away in Indianapolis, Kentucky freshman Aaron Harrison launched a contested NBA-range three in hopes of giving the Wildcats the lead. The shot dropped, and it took the Big Blue Nation to another Final Four.
- After dispensing of three of last year’s Final Four, did Kentucky just complete the toughest road to the Final Four ever?
- Despite averaging fewer than six minutes per game this season, freshman Marcus Lee gave Kentucky an improbable boost off the bench, notching 10 points and eight rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. Though Lee may have been the “forgotten freshman,” he stepped up with starting center Willie Cauley-Stein unable to play.
- Everyone talks about how talented Kentucky is, but Nancy Armour of USA Today argues that it is its toughness is what other teams should fear.
- For a team that looked a huge disappointment as recently as a month ago, Kentucky, behind coach John Calipari, has done wonders.
- Michigan has been able to pull out close games all season, but it just couldn’t manage to do so last night in its biggest and last game of the year.