NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.18.2011Posted by Brian Goodman on March 18th, 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.
- Ohio State standout Jared Sullinger has basketball in his blood. If you recall, his older brother, JJ, pieced together a solid career for the Buckeyes in the early 2000’s
- Marquette head coach Buzz Williams believes Xavier guard Tu Holloway would receive acclaim similar to Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette if he played in a major conference. A high compliment, but it might be a bit of an exaggeration.
- With the memory of his late mother always in his mind, Indiana State guard Jake Kelly has led the Sycamores all season. It is tough not to root for a kid like Kelly, as he has battled through all kinds of adversity throughout his career.
- Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim believes that freshman big man Fab Melo is the Oranges’s “X-Factor” in this season’s tournament. This is a bit stunning to me, as Melo spent most of the conference campaign relegated to the bench.
- Georgia head coach Mark Fox may get a chance to battle his mentor, UNC head coach Roy Williams, if both teams advance to the second round. Fox got his start in the coaching world as a volunteer assistant at Kansas.
- Florida guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton were key in the Gators’ rout of UC-Santa Barbara. The duo has battled inconsistency all season, but yesterday might be a sign of good things to come.
- After a fairly below average start to the regular season, Gonzaga is finally starting to look like the team they were thought to be. The Zags proved this in their upset of St. John’s.
- Pittsburgh big man Gary McGhee will seek revenge on his prep nemesis, Matt Howard, when the Panthers battle Butler in the second round. During the Indiana high school basketball and AAU seasons, McGhee never won a game against Howard.
- Wisconsin got a big contribution from forward Mike Bruesewitz in the Badgers’ victory over Belmont. The sophomore forward recovered from a late-season injury to provide Bo Ryan‘s squad the necessary spark off the bench.
- UCLA head coach Ben Howland will not rest following his squad’s victory over Michigan State. The Bruins have a big matchup with Florida on Saturday.
- When Thursday’s action started, who did you think was going to be the toast of Kentucky? The Wildcats? Not after eeking out a win over Princeton on the final possession. Louisville? Nope, not them either. It’s Morehead State, who had the honor of notching the tournament’s first major upset on Thursday, knocking off Rick Pitino‘s Cardinals on a last-second three from Demonte Harper.
- The Cardinals are not alone in Denver. In fact, three of the four games played at the Pepsi Center ended in upsets, with 6-seed St. John‘s losing to 11-seed Gonzaga and the classic 12/5 upset going down with Richmond topping Vanderbilt. adding to Louisville’s abrupt departure.
- Speaking of the Spiders, 6’0 guard Kevin Anderson got his feistiness from watching Allen Iverson DVD’s. Anderson scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half against Vandy, including the game-winning fadeaway jumper. “The Answer” would be impressed.
- Illinois‘ senior core of Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole will look to extend their collegiate careers tonight against UNLV. Closing out tight games is near the top of the list of concerns for Bruce Weber‘s team, so staying focused would serve them very well.
- The Aggies look to Khris Middleton to carry Texas A&M to tournament success. Middleton can light it up from the perimeter, but is just as capable of a cold streak. While the Aggies are just one of two teams to win at least one tournament game in the last five seasons (Pitt is the other), they’ve failed to make it past the first weekend in four of those runs.
- Kansas coach Bill Self takes on the BU Terriers in Tulsa, where Self honed his craft for seven years. He began his head coaching career as the head coach at Oral Roberts before moving on to coaching the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa.
- The Jayhawks are known for their loyal fans and the team’s historic home court, Allen Fieldhouse. Combine the two with an artistic element and you get perhaps college basketball’s most interesting tattoo.
- Yesterday, we talked about Juan Fernandez‘s role as senior leader for Temple. There may be no better example than what he pulled off yesterday, a game-winning jumper where he had no other choice but to try an off-balance shot for the victory after Penn State’s Talor Battle sank a long-range three to tie the game. Fran Dunphy can finally breathe a sigh of relief after snapping a nasty personal ten-game NCAA Tournament losing streak.
- The Cincinnati Bearcats won their first tournament game since 2005, as the inside duo of Yancy Gates and Ibrahima Thomas helped neutralize Missouri‘s uptempo style. It may be open season on Mike Anderson, but the Bearcats move on to face a Big East foe in Connecticut unconventionally early in the Tournament.
- The Huskies received tremendous support from Kemba Walker‘s supporting cast as they cruised past Bucknell. The trio of Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi stepped up, but with the game well in hand in the second half, Jim Calhoun surprisingly kept his star player on the court, and Walker totaled 35 minutes.
- Oakland is as ready as it’ll ever be to face Texas on Friday. While the spotlight shines on Keith Benson for the Golden Grizzlies, the Longhorns must also contain a stable of three-point shooters on Greg Kampe‘s team. Texas has allowed a stingy 29% clip from opposing three-point shooters, so as they say, something’s got to give.
- It took awhile, but Steve Fisher‘s San Diego State Aztecs finally figured out Northern Colorado‘s “Little Jimmer,” Devon Beitzel, and went on to take their “second round” game, 68-50. Beitzel ranked 13th nationally in points per game for a team still getting its feet wet in the Division-I ranks. The Aztecs will face Temple on Saturday in a battle between highly experienced coaches.